esther’s review published on Letterboxd:
this is, imo, pretty cleanly the best live action solo batman thing, the only one that really seems to get the two appeals of the character and his world: character actors being extremely fucking weird, and batman beating the fuck outta identical guys in sweatshirts. this movie has both in spades, and it's hard to say no to it. dano and farrell aren't quite as good as hardy's bane (who is?) but they both still had me rolling, dano for his bizarre screaming and youtuber cadence, farrell for his hysterically freakish makeup and whoa ay paisano affect. as for the second part, reeves is sparing with the action, but just enough to make the climax really hit. i have to admit, i got swept up. it's batman! batman is cool. not my fault.
i do wish the entire movie was as good as the first hour, though. the first scene with batman at the crime scene, looming like a headless statue at the edges of the frame, just beautifully executed. it doesn't maintain it throughout but there are a lot of moments where reeves just lets a beat or a gesture take an eternity to play out, just luxuriating in a moment that this kind of film normally feels the need to rush through. yes it's 3 hours, who cares. a movie can take its time if it wants.
it is a little ramshackle in the middle, though. the unraveling of the Big Mystery doubles back on itself a few too many times, with batman and gordon taking over an hour to figure out one Riddle. i know people really wanted batman to do more detective stuff, but imo it works best as a buffer for the hazy, blurry, often incomprehensible action scenes. i do appreciate, though, that it lends itself to lots of scenes of batman walking into rooms and standing around. it's just always funny and none of his other movies understand this.
anyway not much else to say about this one. it's the closest a batman movie has come to rising to the level of "good movie" and not just "good batman movie". it is certainly the latter, doing some neat character work and reconfiguring what batman means to the city. but at a certain point i think you gotta evaluate movies like this on something other than their meta-significance to their own mega-franchise. who really cares what The Batman has to say about batman as a character or series of films? a really good batman movie, if it ever exists, will be about something besides itself.