THE BATMAN Review; "One Of The Most Captivating, Relentless, And Unforgettable Comic Book Movies Ever Made"

The Batman arrives in cinemas this Friday, March 4, but does Matt Reeves' vision for the World's Greatest Detective live up to those incredible trailers? As the headline suggests, this is one heckuva film!

Reviews Opinion

The Batman has been an intriguing movie from the start, but it was when that teaser trailer was released during the inaugural DC FanDome event it really became clear we were in store for something special. It feels redundant at this stage to describe this sort of movie as "unlike anything we’ve seen before," but for Batman, it’s an apt description and one that drives home just how perfect Matt Reeves’ vision for this character is. There’s been something to love about every Batman movie - even the Joel Schumacher ones, dare we say it - but never has the Dark Knight been portrayed in such a thoroughly authentic and exciting way. This Batman doesn’t kill, he definitely doesn’t use guns, and is every bit as richly complex and fascinating as his comic book counterpart. At the heart of that is Robert Pattinson’s masterful performance as Bruce Wayne.

Instead of masquerading as a fun-loving playboy, this Bruce has become engrossed in darkness and a mission to clean up Gotham City after his parents were murdered during Thomas Wayne’s bid to become mayor. With an unexpectedly combative relationship with Alfred, the vigilante has become consumed by his work as Batman, but finds an ally in Lieutenant Jim Gordon and a kindred spirit in Selina Kyle. When a serial killer who calls himself The Riddler begins terrorising Gotham City, it’s down to this Dark Knight to piece together the clues and save his home. The story delivers more than its fair share of twists and turns, including some big surprises we’d definitely recommend not having spoiled before The Batman arrives in cinemas on March 4. 

Back to Pattinson, though, and it’s by no means a stretch to say he should be a potential "Best Actor" candidate at next year’s Oscars for the work he delivers in the movie. That might initially sound like hyperbole, but his work here is every bit as transformative and groundbreaking as what we saw from Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. From the smallest of facial expressions when he's taunted by The Riddler, for example, to glimpses of the damaged little boy who saw his parents die, there’s a tremendous amount to unpack in Pattinson's work and a great deal of thought has clearly gone into his every action. This Batman feels like a soldier waging war on Gotham's criminal element, but he's also fiercely intelligent and the detective that previous films have so often overlooked. 

There's not a bad word to be said about the entire cast, in fairness, as every actor here makes the most out of what they’ve given. For some, that’s not much (Andy Serkis has only a few scenes as Alfred Pennyworth), but Reeves gets the best from the talented group of individuals he’s assembled to bring this story to life. Colin Farrell undoubtedly steals the show as The Penguin, with the makeup and prosthetics donned by the normally handsome actor only serving to cement what proves to be the best take on Oswald Cobblepot we've seen on screen. He appears to relish playing this crass gangster and the way he taunts Batman only serves to set the stage for what promises to be a fascinating dynamic moving forward. 
 


Jeffrey Wright brings everything you could possibly want to the table as Jim Gordon, with a wry and sagacious take on the character that cements him more as an equal to Batman than someone who imparts useful knowledge to the Caped Crusader before being left standing around wondering where he’s gone. John Turturro is a delight as Carmine Falcone, while Paul Dano never struggles to bring the required creepiness and intensity to The Riddler. We’d have liked to see a little more of him, but as this seemingly unbeatable figure waging a quiet, bloody war on Gothan, he proves himself exactly what this movie needs as a new type of antagonist to Batman who stretches the hero’s intellectual acuity rather than physical prowess. Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman as she’s nothing short of extraordinary in this role. Putting aside the cheesier aspects of the character, this Selina feels far more in line with her comic book counterpart and Kravitz has the necessary charisma and attitude to make Catwoman an equal to Batman with her own story arc that proves every bit as satisfying as his. 

Reeves has already established himself as one of Hollywood’s most talented filmmakers with movies like Cloverfield and his contributions to the Planet of the Apes franchise, but what we see here is on another level entirely. From the moment "The Batman" opening titles are displayed on screen, the director takes us on a ride that never lets up, but forgoes CG-heavy action for suitably brutal, intense sequences that feels 100% Batman. As this Caped Crusader lays waste Gotham City’s thugs, you feel every punch and kick, and what plays out on screen never feels anything other than visceral and real. Paired with cinematographer Greig Fraser, Reeves utilises the camera in ways that places us right in the thick of the action, giving The Batman a wholly distinct and unique feel that separates it from any other superhero movie. For the first time on screen, Batman feels like a presence in Gotham City who drives fear into its criminals and whether it’s the way he stalks the shadows or tears into action in the best Batmobile sequence ever committed to film, it clear from the start that Reeves had a deep understanding and love of this character - and the lore that surrounds him - which translates perfectly to the screen. This results in a movie that surpasses every DC Comics adaptation before it and sits alongside greats like The Dark Knight, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: No Way Home as one of the best superhero movies ever made.

As for that detective story, it doesn't disappoint (even if some might argue a little too much was revealed in the trailers). Once the final riddle is solved, the movie does head down a somewhat more traditional action-orientated route in its final act, but it still serves the story that's come before and doesn't detract too much from what Reeves clearly wanted to deliver here.

Something it’s important to note that enhances every single frame we see on screen is Michael Giacchino’s score. Batman's theme hits you right in the chest and is a suitably relentless piece of music that couldn't be better suited to this iteration of the character. The score is sublime, and there's not a single scene in the movie that doesn't benefit from the composer's work in some way. As noted, this is a beautifully shot movie that prioritises real action over CG set pieces. However, in the moments that VFX is needed to enhance what's happening on screen, it's flawless and gives Gotham, and the film, a suitably epic feel. After what’s proven to be a hit-and-miss few years for DC, The Batman reminding us just how incredible these stories can be is welcomed, and the future looks bright for our new Dark Knight. 

Delivering the definitive take on the World’s Greatest Detective, The Batman is a sweeping, cinematic masterpiece that’s both DC’s best film and one of the most captivating, relentless, and unforgettable comic book movies ever made. 
 

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