Movie Review – The Batman

Movie Review - The Batman

Tristan Hasseman, Staff Writer

He’s back, and this time he’s Vengeance .  The Caped Crusader is is back in the theaters, this time played by Robert Pattinson. Pattinson has starred in movies such as the Twilight series, Tenet, and Good Time.  Directed by Matt Reeves, The Batman reimagines Gotham and it’s famed vigilante. With this film, DC follows it’s recent trend of making darker, grittier, and more realistic films that focus more on the mental and physical struggles of the characters rather than just having glitzy fight scenes and a happy ending.  Similar to the 2019 film Joker, The Batman is dark and gloomy, with some critics even calling Pattinson’s character “emo”. Despite its differences from other popular superhero films, Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz (Catwoman), and Paul Dano (who plays The Riddler), lives up to they hype by delivering a nuanced and forceful performance.

In Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale, is a playboy millionaire, surrounded by luxury, extravagance, and beautiful women.  With plenty of money to finance his escapades, Bale’s Batman often uses his wealth to access unrealistic weapons or gear.  The intentions of Bale’s Bruce Wayne throughout the movies are to protect Gotham City and keep a special eye on his close friends.

Pattinson’s rendition is quite the opposite from past Batmans. Opting to stay out of the public eye, Bruce Wayne is a secluded and shy millionaire who cares more about fulfilling the Wayne family legacy through his actions rather than his wealth.  Spending most of his time in his gothic styled Wayne Tower, or the Batcave which is in an abandoned subway station.  Extravagance or fun are never a desire of Waynes and he never bothers to enjoy his wealth at any time during the movie.

Running at over three hours The Batman feels long but it never gets too slow or boring.  The plot is cohesive and constantly moving but some scenes, although cool, didn’t seem super necessary to the story. Rather than relying on fancy technology to do all the work, this Caped Crusader is more of a detective; chasing leads, solving riddles, and gathering information. While he uses some limited technology, he never relies on it, sometimes showing hesitancy and apprehension while using his gadgets.  To viewers unfamiliar with the Batman saga and background story, the movie would definitely be confusing.  Without major character development or worldbuilding the movie throws you into the middle of a Gotham City crisis.

Despite not seeing his face until the end of the movie, Paul Dano delivers a good performance as the Riddler.  Cunning and diabolical, he’s everything you want in a Batman villain. He doesn’t have an intimidating physical appearance like past villains, but what he lacks in brawn he makes up for in brains.

Villains are becoming more sympathetic and nuanced.  With understandable motives and fair assumptions about society, Riddler is tired of the neverending lies from the cities Elite.  His aim is to unmask the wrongdoings of politicians, law enforcement, millionaires, and anyone who’s worsened the lives of others.  Surrounded by supporters just as tired he uses social media to connect and inform, showing the influence of modern society on cinema.  The film’s use of concerning political activity paired with the constant emphasis on social media mirrors the use of social media in government and society in the past five years.

Zoe Kravitz delivers a fabulous performance as Selena Kyle aka Catwoman.  In the best portrayal of the antihero to date, Kravitz, like Pattinson rebrands her character.  In the past the seductive sidekick/frenemy was only used for sexual tension and to cause drama, while not serving any use to the advancement of the plot.  The Cat and The Bat cross paths as Catwoman’s’ quest to find her missing friend coincides with the murder that Batman is trying  to solve.  Neither needs the others help, but they help each other out and team up for most of the movie.  Kravitz’s Catwoman is independent and motivated, tracking down her lost friend and the suspects behind her disappearance.  It’s refreshing to see a Catwoman that serves a purpose, while also also looking beautiful and mysterious.

Visually, the film is dark and understated, with Reeves using shadows and contrast to pop out from the dreary backdrop of Gotham City. The cinematography is stunning, mixing symbolism with striking images. Gotham looks and feels identical to NYC, making it more personal and relatable. Bruce Wayne’s home looks like a room out of Dracula, with dark gothic architecture narrowing the gap between where Bruce Wayne ends and Batman begins.

As a whole, the movie was intimate, action packed, and impactful, as all of the actors perfectly personified their characters.  With a character who has as much history as Batman does it’s often hard avoiding redundancy or repetition.  It’s refreshing and reassuring to see a character have a new look, and to see him evolve with the time and culture.