The Batman: A spoiler free review of the newest incarnation of the caped crusader.
The Dark Knight has returned in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. A film far closer to Chinatown, Se7en, Dirty Harry, Taxi Driver and numerous Martin Scorsese films than any other Comic book superhero film proceeding it.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a massive Batman fan. I grew up on the 1990’s animated series and live action Tim Burton movies as well as of course The Dark Knight trilogy and even the campy 1960’s tv show with Adam West and Burt Ward. I LOVE Batman, but I have to be honest and say that I was initially skeptical about this new incarnation. First off, I like everyone else am sick to death of Bruce Wayne’s origin story. It’s been done over and over and over again for decades. Second, I actually liked Ben Affleck’s Batfleck and felt offended on his behalf that they just tossed him aside like an old shoe. Like I said, I had every reason to be apprehensive of this film and I kept my expectations super low… Well, this movie exceeded my expectations and I found myself enjoying it for what it was.
What I Liked:
The Batman is a fresh take on a Batman film that is a spiritual successor to The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Se7en, Chinatown, Goodfellas etc. It’s more of a dark and gritty crime drama than a typical superhero flick. The city is as dirty on the inside as it is on the outside and the heavy Mob influence, with their hands in all the pockets is something out of the Martin Scorsese handbook. Furthermore the film finally gives us a fully fleshed out Detective Batman. He ain’t known as “The world’s greatest detective” for nothin’, and yet no live action adaptation has delved into Batman being that great detective, investigating a crime and solving it with good old fashioned wit and instinct even more than with shiny toys. Not since the DCAU Batman series and movies have we seen Detective Batman in all his glory.
Now, we all know how controversial the casting was for this film. Robert Pattinson perhaps the most. But it all seems to have turned out for the best because Pattinson proved that he was so much more than Twilight and Zoe Kravitz, Colin Farrell and Jeffrey Wright did great work as Catwoman\Selina Kyle, The Penguin and Commissioner Jim Gordon. I personally thought that Pattinson’s Batman was particularly good. I’ve always said that Kevin Conroy’s animated Batman was the best version of Batman ever and Pattinson’s Batman comes very close to seeing that version of the character in live action. High compliment indeed.
Batman and Catwoman:
The hot chemistry between the iconic pairing was in spades in the film. The clever little banter, the sultry little glances and the strong longing for one another that can never be because of their being on completely different sides is straight out of the comics. Not since Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer has Batman and Catwoman’s dynamic been this accurate and deeply romantic.
Paul Dano gave a truly haunting performance as The Riddler. In this film the character of Riddler seems like a cross between Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, John Doe from Se7en and Scorpio from Dirty Harry. (and if you’ve never heard of those names and never seen those movies then go watch them and shame on you) Dano definitely provides the creepy goods as a serial killer who manages to outwit the Bat and the Gotham PD quite a bit.
Batman and Gordon’s Buddy Cop Dynamic:
The interplay between the two iconic duo provides the comic relief the film needed as well as proving once again that for there to be a Batman there needs to be a Jim Gordon. The chemistry between Pattinson and Wright works pretty well.
What I didn’t like so much:
Jim Gordon’s Voice:
As good a job the always so good Jeffrey Wright did in the role of Jim Gordon, I could’ve done without the voice which was a bit too close to the Batman gravelly voice for my taste.
Batman and Alfred’s lack of chemistry and bond:
One of the most essential elements of any Batman film, tv show, comic book etc. is the super tight bond and banter between Bruce and Alfred. They’re basically the only family the other has and it’s important to show the full depth of that. The Dark Knight trilogy in my opinion did it best with the amazing chemistry between Christian Bale and Michael Caine as Bruce and Alfred being essentially the heart and soul of the trilogy. I didn’t feel that type of bond with Pattinson and Andy Serkis, who is not my favorite iteration of Alfred, by the way. Hopefully in future films the bond between Alfred and Master Bruce can evolve into something closer to the spirit of the relationship between the two men.
In conclusion, I found this movie to be much better than I thought it would be. I had a great time at the theaters with friends watching it and as a fan of gritty crime dramas I appreciated its different take to a Batman film. While the film wasn’t perfect, there’s great potential set up from the groundwork Matt Reeves and Co have laid out and I’m looking forward to the sequel whenever it is blessed upon us…. Peace out, folks!