The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has come to a slow crawl since Zack Snyder's Justice League, but that didn't stop Warner Bros. from crafting a new world separate from that canon of heroes. With Matt Reeves' The Batman, this is the beginning of a new ongoing franchise that feels original and fresh in its performances, visual style, and story - it's easy to say that this film is the BEST Batman movie yet. MUST-SEE!
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It might feel like there are too many Batman movies out there. The original four films that started with Michael Keaton and Tim Burton led to the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy with Christian Bale with an added spice of Ben Affleck's two appearances inside the DCEU Universe. Everyone would be correct in thinking that the market is oversaturated with Batman and thinking, "Do people really need another take on this character?" With Matt Reeves' new vision of The Batman and Robert Pattinson wearing the cape and cowl, that answer is an overwhelmingly and loud "YES" for a smattering of reasons. There is no Batman movie quite like this and for the first time, this feels like an authentic Batman tale that was told and made by people who understand the character and his world.
Interestingly enough, when Ben Affleck first signed on as Batman, he made a deal with the studio to write, direct, and star in a Batman film, but it didn't pan out as the stresses of the Justice League reshoots overwhelmed him. This is where Matt Reeves came aboard. Now Reeves might be the one filmmaker that started it out with perhaps the worst movie ever made (The Pallbearer) but then created some of the best films of recent memory (Cloverfield and the last two entries of the Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy). This all led to The Batman with his cinematographer Greig Fraser (Dune), making this the absolute best-looking and most brooding Batman in cinematic history. But it's not just the visual style that feels different this time around, it's the Batman himself and the story it tells, which is complex, brutal, and all sorts of fun.
In the previous films that feature The Dark Knight, the one constant of the franchise is that nearly every character is more interesting than Batman/Bruce Wayne himself. No matter if they're villains or co-heroes, Batman is often surrounded by more multi-layered and intricately drawn characters. That's not the case with The Batman. The most volatile and interesting person here actually is Batman himself. And take notice there isn't "Bruce Wayne" in that sentence. Reeves and company tell a story that focuses solely on The Batman with Bruce Wayne rarely making an appearance. This allows for Batman's true emotions and psyche to air out as it does in the first sequence when he takes out some thugs singlehandedly in an ultra-violent way and reveals that his name is "Vengeance". This is a far cry from previous iterations of Batman who is only down for justice.
The Batman is a true noir thriller and detective story and for its three-hour runtime, plays like an action/cop melodrama with Batman (Robert Pattinson) and Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) teaming up for most of the film to solve a series of murders in Gotham. In this particular film, Gordon and Batman have known each other for two years, but these new murders that feel inspired by the horror franchise Saw, are keeping the people of Gotham up at night as the victims are prominent people of the city who are being exposed for their secret corruption and crimes. With these victims come riddles addressed to The Batman that makes him and the city question every politician and seemingly good deed they promise.
Batman himself has his own moral code that he likes to follow but must navigate that fine line of vengeance and justice while coping with rumors and truths about his family. This crosses into the darkest territory yet for the caped crusader. But like any true noir story, the detectives must have a keen sense of their surroundings and solving crimes. Commissioner Gordon here is a smart man, who always goes by the book, and is fair, honest, and dependable. But where he falls short in searching for hidden clues and meaning and drawing lines to connect one person to another is where Batman picks up the slack. Batman is the ultimate detective in this movie, who is super quick to solve any riddles, and puts two and two together that further this complicated web of lies and betrayal. Even with the help of his technology in eyewear and gadgets, it never allows him to see the fill Riddler picture until it's too late. But again, this is what makes this particular Batman film so good, is that these two characters are brutal and honest detectives first, crossing in the shadows and working mostly alone that really drives this darker thriller home and true to the original Batman form.
Luckily, Batman crosses paths with Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Zoe Kravtiz), who Batman takes under his wing and tries to mentor her in not crossing the line of total brutality. It's a fantastic story arc, one with heft and depth that makes a complete transformation in the best way possible. And with Bruce's trusted family butler Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), it's clear that this version of Alfred has done a lot more with Bruce than just looking after him.
Meanwhile, the utter chaotic crimewave in Gotham with Penguin (Colin Farrell) and Falcone (John Turturro) at the top goes further into their corrupt dealings that make things difficult for the GCPD and Batman himself. It becomes a complicated web of lies and twists where the Riddler (Paul Dano) always has the upper hand. He's a perfect villain with that flawless mix of calm that explodes into an insane chaotic madness that is extremely terrifying because initially what he's doing makes only a little bit of sense exposing corrupt leaders, but of course, there's much more to it in the long run.
Pattinson as The Batman is pitch-perfect. There's no time to showcase his side as Bruce Wayne like Bale did as a cheesy playboy billionaire or ninja-in-training. Pattinson's take is extremely dark and violent. While he stands for justice, there's something that's constantly eating away at him to cross that line and straight-up kill the villains. Pattinson's physical ability to fight and reveal his tortured emotions is spot on and some of the best portrayals of the Dark Knight ever.
Kravitz's Catwoman is a different breed as well, as she throws herself into a deeply caring for those she's friends with type-of -person, but to a fault. If someone crosses her, she would resort to murder. But her all-too poignant and important views on white male privilege ring true in this movie as she is the conduit in the film world to what should be happening in real life. And of course, Colin Farrell as Penguin is simply outstanding as he has completely thrown himself into this character both physically and mentally. His accent, mannerisms, and look are so unrecognizable as the Colin Farrell everyone knows. It's easy to see why the studio has greenlit a spinoff series on this character alone. Move over Danny Devito, Farrell now owns the Penguin role.
The cinematography by Greig Fraser is nothing short of perfection along with Reeves' direction, this is the BEST looking Batman to date. The color palette never allows for bright, primary colors to show, but is steeped in that brooding noir vibe with decaying browns, blacks, and tons of red coloring everywhere. In fact, it might resemble a Sin City motif in a lot of elements, which only enhances the thrills and suspense of what's happening in the story. The ways they create a horror movie atmosphere with Alien-like shots and slow terror is fantastic when Batman surprises his enemies in dark hallways. It's wonderful to watch unfold. And then of course there is Michael Giacchino's epic new score, which might be even better than previous iterations of the Batman theme. Taking its cues from angelic songs like Ave Maria and Nirvana's Something In The Way, Giacchino utilizes some haunting elements of these songs for the film that works perfectly.
The Batman is the BEST Batman yet and tells a different, important version of this beloved character and story that hasn't been told before. And finally, it feels like someone who actually loves the source material has made an adaptation that feels right, good, and checks off all the appropriate boxes on what should be happening inside a Batman film. With being the best visually looking Batman movie, and some of the best performances to date, along with its different take on the story - The Batman is a MUST-SEE!
Only In Theaters - Order Your Tickets for The Batman at Fandango!