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the batman

★★★★★

director: matt reeves (cloverfield, dawn of the planet of the apes)
starring: robert pattinson, zoe kravitz, paul dano, and colin farrell

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

When the Riddler, a sadistic serial killer, begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city's hidden corruption and question his family's involvement.

Every decade has their Batman reflecting and examining the angst, complexities, and hopes of the cultural moment they find themselves in. Burton’s 80’s Batman was gothic with a twisted moral ambiguity, the 1990’s saw Batman tackle capitalistic greed, and Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy examined the politics of fear in a post 9/11 world. 

Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne is exhausted, drained from years of fighting for justice which aptly reflects the political climate of the 2010’s. Robert Pattinson’s Batman speaks to the high distrust of those in power bubbling away in culture today, suspicion of the system itself, and the mission to unmask the truth, no matter the cost. This is quite unlike any Batman film you’ve ever seen. With a fresh, gritty take on the iconic character, The Batman is a gripping murder mystery that will thrill and entertain and leave you wanting more. 

Batman ventures into Gotham City's underworld when a sadistic killer leaves behind a trail of cryptic clues. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator's plans become clear, he must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued the metropolis.

The Batman is the rare kind of film that at three hours long it still leaves you wanting more. It is completely engrossing, pulling you into mystery that lies at the heart of the film - the murders of key Gotham City figures. There are a couple of moments where the riddle gets quite tangled so you have to pay very close attention. But the pay off and the way in which the finale is delivered packs a beautiful punch. 

Matt Reeve more than proved his blockbuster directing chops with the superb Dawn and War of the Planet of the Apes, and he is a director at the very height of his powers here. Every single part of the film from the production design, the cinematography, the narrative pacing and choices are perfection. His vision of Gotham, a perfect mixture of other worldly gothic and gritty realism, is the best ever rendition of the city on the big screen. It’s truly beautiful.

While the action and suspense is to be found in the untangling of the murder mystery, there are also some spectacular action sequences. A short, sharp gun battle lit by machine gun fire and a car chase involving Batman and Penguin that are just superb, edge of your seat, clap your hands in delight fantastic. This is perfectly aided by Michael Giacchino's thundering, ethereal and simply gorgeous score. 

 

The character of Batman has always been complex. The themes of a corrupt system and officials that cannot be trusted radiates throughout this film. But Reeve doesn’t seek to answer the questions he poses in a black and white kinda way. We’re pushed into the complexities of the system and the hypocrisy of those in power but also those who seek to reveal the truth. 

Pattinson. When he was announced as the new Batman many questioned the casting. But the simple fact of the matter is that while Christian Bale completely suited Nolan’s vision for the character and the tale he wanted to tell, Pattinson is Reeve’s Batman. 

He lurks in the shadows, shunning the Bruce Wayne spotlight, and uses his brain more than his brawn (don’t worry - he’s still an excellent scrapper). This is the first iteration of the Batman character that you feel a little afraid of. There are also only a handful of scenes where we see Pattinson without all the Batman getup on. It takes a pretty talented actor to not only hold your attention but to also bring a fragile, broken humanity to a character when their face is completely covered bar the chin.

 

Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman more than holds her own against Batman, with the character being developed way more than in other incarnations. Paul Dano is deliciously dangerous and deluded and every match for Pattinson's Batman. Jeffrey Wright brings an earnestness to the role of James Gordon and Colin Farrell is tremendous underneath mountains of prosthetics as the Penguin.

This is quite unlike any Batman film you’ve ever seen. With a fresh, gritty take on the iconic character, The Batman is a gripping murder mystery that will thrill and entertain and leave you wanting more.

★★★★★