“The Batman” is a passion project from an auteur in the presence and brilliance of director Matt Reeves. It’s clear Reeves, and everyone involved, cared about the character and world of Bruce Wayne.
Reeves had the courage to make Gotham feel alive with decay and rot while every drop of rain washes away the innocence through the gorgeous cinematography and camera work from Greig Fraser. Criminals seeing the bat symbol bleed through the harsh crescendo of rain echoing throughout the shadows, instilling fear and warnings that something or someone is watching, was amazing.
It’s beautiful to admit that Batman is a silent guardian always on the prowl, longing to soften the cushion and restore order even though it seems an internal conflict is present behind the broken eyes of the cowl.
For periods of the film, Bruce finds himself drawn and swallowed by the spirit of vengeance every time he puts on the cowl, lingering and distant out in the cold while the silence of revenge infects his mind channeling frustration.
Robert Pattinson was born to play this role and I stand by that from the way he walked into the frame emerging from the cold shadows. The brief moments of casing a crime scene felt ripped from Batman’s dark iconography dripping in moral consequence. Bruce Wayne struggles to live up to his family’s iconic legacy and status in the fabled city while the black paint of misery is smudged by the sweat of his fury, further distancing Bruce and The Bat.
While the chemistry between Pattinson and Andy Serkis as Alfred was sensational. You can see the sorrow behind the eyes of Bruce drowning to let go. Alfred’s eyes are full of remorse and pain because he can do nothing besides stand by and see his surrogate son slowly disappear and the mask of Bruce Wayne fade from existence raising the question of the age-old debate: is Bruce Wayne the mask, and Batman the true personality and driving force? I thought Reeves and Pattinson achieved a perfect balance of pain and trauma locked away in the soul of this Bruce.
By forgoing the comic accurate white lenses, you are allowed to grow with Bruce and travel the journey of exploring his ego and understanding his shattered subconscious. We are entitled to see humanity bubble to the surface when he interacts with Selina (Zoë Kravitz) but he doesn’t know what to say or how to present himself, leaving him understanding they are two puzzle pieces longing to be whole but walk different paths.
Kravitz did a phenomenal job with the character of Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle. Kravitz was a definite scene-stealer. From her chemistry with Pattinson to the moments of the Iceberg lounge, or harboring character remnants of “Batman Year One” and “The Long Halloween,” I could feel her pain, disdain, and love for the Bat all while trying to find her purpose and placement in the rotting atmosphere of Gotham.
At times I truly felt I was living in the world of Gotham City. Iconic locations looked plucked from the panels, and the colors expressing the mood throughout the film symbolized the change in our characters and, in turn, Batman.Brendan Rooney
I can’t believe this film was made during a pandemic because it never felt like it, not once. The streets are cluttered, and each set is flawlessly crafted. Like the Iceberg Lounge being chaotic and thriving with energy and Wayne Tower being barren, empty, perceives total perfection in this incarnation. Even the Riddler’s apartment was cluttered and methodically placed with pristine thought.
This latest installment’s tone is saturated with crime noir thriller and whodunnit mystery elements. This theme is reinforced by the direction to make the Riddler among the lines of the Zodiac Killer, and methodically peeling away the hypocrisy of Gotham was downright brilliant. Paul Dano was nerve-inducing and vile for most of the film.
I felt The Riddler was unhinged, methodical, and calculating, always having charisma during the tensest of scenes undertone by a sinister track of horror bleeding into the frame from composer Michael Giacchino.
Colin Farrell as Penguin — I’m going to say this right now — whoever did the practical effects and make-up for Farrell needs an oscar nomination. If nobody told me that was Farrell, I wouldn’t have questioned who the actor was, not to mention his role was quite limited. It was clear Farrell was having the time of his life.
I noticed hints of Tony Soprano’s manifest and other comic portrayals of the iconic Batman rogue take center stage. I wish there was more screen time for Penguin, but Farrell ate up the camera and took charge when he was on screen. The future is just beginning with a coming HBO MAX feature in the works, so I can only imagine how his story will play out. Needless to say, Farrell was a stand-out in an ensemble that was perfectly cast.
Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon was one of my favorite parts of this film. Once again, the chemistry that Pattinson channeled with each of his co-stars was downright surreal and felt ripped line by line, mannerism by mannerism, from the panels of Batman lore.
Wright’s Gordon felt troubled in a war of moral consequence while trying to keep his hands cleansed of the corruption that lingers in the air and slowly becomes soaked in blood-infested lies. The subtle exchanges between Gordon and Batman foreshadows their relationship will grow into the comic-accurate portrayal we all respect and long for.
John Turturro as Carmine Falcone was just oozing with charisma, downright smugness, and a perfect side foil to mess with Bruce’s psyche. The small exchanges of exposition centered around moral choice, staying relevant, and seeing through false ideals felt plucked from a Francis Ford Coppola screenplay insisting that Reeves wanted to honor the greats and pioneers who came before him.
In addition to the brilliant casting and how everyone was born to play the role, I need to commend composer Michael Giacchino for creating a masterpiece of a score that not only elevated the tension of each scene but was a reflection of each character while being innovative, fresh and full of pride towards the late great Shirley Walker, who was a pioneer for “Batman: The Animated Series.”
“The Batman” theme brooding with a vengeance, only to see a reflection of justice and hope take over through the track, foreshadowing our hero’s journey, was brilliant. The haunting, eerie weeping of failure from the Riddler or the tender seduction of Selina fighting for purpose proved heart and tethered them to the audience.
“The Batman” was everything I hoped for, and it’s great to admit that this film will be once in a lifetime. The brief moments of expositional monologues allow the audience the chance to understand the flaws and trauma lingering with Bruce, molding him to the point of no return. Knowing his oath for vengeance will eventually lead to hope, cleansing the fog of corruption forever choking Gotham, gives me hope for this DC franchise.
“The Batman” from Matt Reeves gets a five stars rating.
Passion built upon the integrity of cementing legacy and vision through the principle of defining achievements.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story had Jeffrey Wright’s name spelt incorrectly. The error was been corrected on March 7, 2022.