By Cole Parkinson
After the first teaser trailer was first released, I was all in on the newest Batman solo movie. The cast was great, I’ve loved almost every other Matt Reeves movie, and the fact it was going to primarily be a detective Batman movie had me very excited. And I’m happy to report the movie lived up to the hype.
While I think it will be hard to ever top the highs of The Dark Knight, The Batman comes very close. While I can’t say I like it more than The Dark Knight, I don’t think it’s that far off. It feels similar to the Nolan trilogy — and it’s hard not to considering how many adaptions we’ve seen of Batman now — but it also feels very different.
This version ofBatman fails more than in the Nolan series and he’s still learning on the job. Batman is the “World’s Greatest Detective” in the comics, but he’s not that yet in the Reeves’ universe — and that’s not a bad thing. Robert Pattinson’s Batman is still very new to being Batman and he’s in it solely to beat the crap out of lawbreakers out at night in Gotham City.
And while it’s heavily implied he’s dealt with some crazy dudes in his first year of the “Gotham Project”, he really hasn’t faced anyone like Paul Dano’s Riddler. This Riddler is heavily designed to be like the Zodiac Killer and the serial killer from Se7en, but there’s plenty of twists and turns along the way. It feels like a Batman movie, no doubt, but it’s a different take from any other we’ve seen on the big screen up until this point. And the cast of this movie is perfect. From Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, Dano as Riddler, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, and the unrecognizable Colin Farrell as the Penguin.
Starting with the leading man, I have zero reservations stating Pattinson is my favourite Batman. His acting in this movie is incredible and his ability to convey so much with his eyes and face without saying a single word is astonishing. It’s a darker Bruce Wayne then we’ve seen on screen, and that might throw some people off, but it makes sense in this world and timeline. I can’t wait to see what he does moving forward in this universe.
Likewise, I think Kravitz is the best Catwoman adaption we’ve seen in the movies. I loved Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises, but this Selina Kyle is much worse off. She’s on the ground level and she’s not exactly the jewel heist expert she comes to be in the comics at this point, so she’s just scraping by.
Wright’s James Gordon is very good, and his interactions with Batman make for tons of fun. It’s not an overly funny movie, but the laughs almost all come from the relationship between Gordon and Batman.
Turturro as Falcone surprised me quite a bit, and that was all for the better. He was very charismatic and the performance was great. I couldn’t take my eyes off him every time he was on screen. In a movie filled with characters, Falcone’s story was very well done and while it could have been a drag, it really added to the movie.
Dano is a super creepy take on the Riddler and it was a welcome change for one of Batman’s rouges that can be very goofy. Making him a serial killer taking out Gotham’s elite and corrupt was an interesting take. Last but not least, Colin Farrell as the Penguin was a perfect casting. I honestly forgot it was Farrell throughout the movie because the prosthetics and makeup were that good. He seemed to be having the time of his life in this role and I cannot wait to see what they do in the HBO series.
Matt Reeves did an incredible job as the director of this movie. It felt like a real, full-fledged, big-screen movie — and it felt like it was shot on location and not in front of a green screen which a lot of comic book movies feel like these days. The practical effects were spectacular throughout and you could tell they made it their mission to make it as grounded as possible. This Gotham was also much different than what we’ve seen in the past. It feels like exactly like the comics.
Another great addition to this movie is the soundtrack. It’s big, it’s epic, and it adds another massive element to the overall tone and feel to the movie. The music adds this depth to the movie and it gets under your skin in a good way.
One of the sticking points being made is around the length of the movie. At just under three hours, I get why some feel it’s too long. Could it have been cut by 10-20 minutes? Yeah, probably, but at no point did I start looking at my watch or wondering when it was going to end. The world and characters gripped me and I can’t wait to see more.
And more is coming. There are two HBO series in the works — one about the Penguin and one about Arkham Asylum. Both sound incredibly interesting and I can’t wait to see how they flesh out this world even more. After that, there are still two sequels to The Batman. Talks of the next villain have already begun. Reeves has suggested Mr. Freeze and Pattinson has suggested the Court of Owls — both would be extremely cool. We’ve had one terrible adaption of Freeze so to see them right that wrong would be awesome. Court of Owls is easily one of my favourite comic book storylines and to see that adapt with Pattinson and Reeves at the helm would be a match made in heaven. Personally, I’d also love to see Hugo Strange or a grounded Clayface — either way, I can’t wait to see what happens next.