The Batman

The Batman ★★★½

The Riddler is a glorified Twitch streaming niche internet micro celebrity in The Batman and I'm all for it.

Robert Pattinson (aka Robat Battinbat) is easily the best Batman put to screen and it’s not even close. He’s able to convey so much emotion through subtle glances, eye movements, and mouth twitches. Hell, even his footsteps can be attributed to this performance. He rarely ever says anything, but you always know what he’s thinking. This is a Batman with a true character arc. That is to say that he changes on the internal level just as much as the world around him does, which is not something I’ve seen in a Batman film in a while. The theme about vengeance and how different interpretations of one simple word can be drastically misconstrued to justify various (and sometimes horrific) ends is powerful. By the end of the film we see that Batman cannot just use vengeance to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies, but he must use vengeance to protect those that need his saving by becoming a hero. It’s really interesting to see given that Batman as a character has for the most part been reduced to “angry and broody” for the sake of being dark and edgy. All of this is once again so excellently conveyed through Pattinon’s performance (and equally as important through a script which is an entire love letter to the character). Hopefully this is the final nail in the coffin for anyone who tries to convince themselves that Pattinson isn't a good actor.

The fight choreography in this film is utterly spectacular and deserves far more praise than it has received. Some of it looks as though it has been ripped straight out of the Arkham games and it's achieved to such a degree of efficiency. These fights are shot in the wide and rarely use quick cuts edits which allow you to see everything that these fight sequences have to offer.

The Batman is also a nearly 3-hour-long film that feels like it's closer to 5 or 6 hours. It's never dull or uninteresting, and I never caught myself checking my watch, but “holy hole in a doughnut” is it certainly draining to sit through. I’d say that it’s in part due to the dark and dreary atmosphere captured by cinematographer Greig Fraser. From the darkness to focus points of the camera, everything is meticulously calculated and I thoroughly believe that this is the best looking superhero film to date. It’s because of Fraser that Gotham City becomes a real character; it’s a miserable place to be and for all intents and purposes, it’s truly a shithole (and not just Chicago with the camera’s exposure turned down). Hopefully Zak Snyder can take notes from this and realize that you can make a film look dark but still visually stunning.

While I've seen the majority of conversations surrounding the film compare The Batman to Se7en (which given the heavy neo-noir aesthetic and content of its overarching unravelling mystery, I agree with) and Zodiac (which I have not seen), I also see very strong similarities to Joker. This is especially apparent through its themes with the idea that those cast aside and forgotten by the elites of society rising-up (not unlike gamers) and turning to anarchical violence to make their voices heard. Both The Batman and Joker do things better than the other, but it makes me think about the overall reception that both films received. While they’re both blatant homages to the works of David Fincher and Martin Scorcese respectively Joker is treated as a black sheep. Regardless, I like the direction that DC is taking by placing their characters in different genre films and hopefully they make more films like The Batman in the future.

All in all, The Batman is an excellent film that pays homage to noir cinema of the past in a meaningful way that allows for an intricate character study of Batman with excellent cinematography and fight choreography that sometimes suffers from a bloated runtime and an unfitting final act that sacrifices most of the narrative integrity built up until that point.

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