The Batman

The Batman ★★★★

500th film review. Watched. My rating: 8.8/10. Its 23rd of May today and it has been almost a month since I watched it. Do I still wanna talk about it? No. No, I don't. But since I made notes for the review right after watching it, I might as well use them for a piece. So here we are.

Prior to watching The Batman, I've been watching Fincher films and binge listening to all the Nirvana albums. And unbeknownst to me, this film is a love child of the two. The film itself feels like something set in the lyrical universe of Kurt Cobain, with it's gritty undertones and darkness.

Is this the best live action Batman film ever? For me, yes. Maybe. This is the one which I thoroughly enjoyed. The Dark Knight (2008) is generally considered not only the best Batman film ever made, but also one of the best films ever made. And I can see why some people may think that. But it just doesn't work for me.

The first time that I watched The Dark Knight, I was blown away by Heath Ledger's performance but found myself drifting off whenever he was not on screen. And that's a big chunk of of the movie, when he's not on screen. I didn't feel the high that everyone else was on. I kept returning to that film for I believed maybe I missed something. And upon every rewatch, my experience of the film keeps getting worse and worse. As you can tell, I'm not the biggest fan of Nolan's filmography.

So when I heard that Matt Reeves, whose Apes Trilogy I absolutely love and enjoyed the Cloverfield (2008), was directing the next Batman film starring Robert Pattinson, I thought to myself that this just might be the movie which would make me feel interested in the titular character. And so it did.

I had full confidence in Pattinson and knew that he would be perfect for the role. Just look at his performances in Good Time (2017), The Lighthouse (2019) or The Devil All The Time (2020). He has such a magnetic on-screen presence and I love it that he is not wasting his talents away. The most obvious way that Pattinson's Bruce Wayne was different from the previous iterations was the fact that he is not a playboy but a mentally ill loner. That's how I would've portrayed him.

In fact, this whole film feels like the sort of thing I would've made if I had the chance to. The whole serial killer angle the story goes for is right up my alley. In fact I self published a serial killer novellete in March called The Censored, available on Amazon digitally. Yes, that was a shameless plug right there.

The first half an hour of this film, with the shadowy introduction of Riddler and Mr Vengeance with Something in the Way playing had me grinning ear to ear. Perfection. The whole sequence ends at the new Bat Cave, which is now an abandoned underground train station; makes perfect sense. So this is where Richard Parker used to come...

And I must say that this is the best score of Michael Giacchino's career. It helps create an intriguing and mysterious atmosphere, blending with the warm shadows of Greg Fraiser, the cinematographer. In fact, everyone on the crew have outdone themselves, from the production designer to the costume designer. Everything looks tight and the passion is palpable. They really were trying to top The Dark Knight here and it shows.

I even like the length of the cut and the overall editing, with it's smooth, stately pace. The patience of the editors is put on display especially in the action scenes which opt for holding shots for a while and letting the choreography of the set piece flow instead of cutting every other second like a Bourne film.

But where it falters for me is when we meet John Turturo's character at his penthouse. Him and his mobster buddies are playin' pool and havin' a laugh and Al Martino's "I Have But One Heart" plays in the background. Now, Al Martino played Johnny Fontane in one of my favorite films, The Godfather (1972). And Johnny Fontane sings "I Have But One Heart" on the Godfather's daughter's wedding day. And Jonny Fontane was based upon Frank Sinatra, who not only had ties with the mafia, but was very close with Al Capone himself.

I know that Matt Reeves had this scene in as a fun homage, but it just leaned to heavily on the other film and falling into it's shadow. Hence, pulling me out of the film. If only they had used another song, the scene would've been so much better.

Speaking of John Turturro, the foes were pretty diverse in this film. From Paul Dano as a creepy incel to Turturro as a cold, calculated head of a mafia family to Colin Farrell as the hot headed mobster/club owner/dope peddler. Collin Farrell stole the show for me though, with his De Niro impression. He was just so fun to watch at all times, unrecognizable under all that makeup, making the rattling of the Uzi feel so very miniature in his meaty hands.

As Batman's allies, we get Zoe Kravitz as the Catwoman, Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) as James Gordon and Andy Serkis as Alfred. Kravitz and Wright were great in their parts but Andy Sekis is just the worst choice for Alfred. I just don't buy him as this father figure to Pattinson and he doesn't carry the "caring instinct" on screen. I don't know what's the story behind him being cast as the famous butler, but I'd sure like to know.

Todd Philip's Joker and Matt Reeve's Batman feel like steps in the right direction for the DC films. They feel like the cinematic equivalent of the Black Label lineup of the DC comics, which feature comics for adults. I hope they dive more into this and create their own identity separate from Marvel. I want big budget films that take themselves seriously. Films that want to contribute to the discussion.

And by "takes itself seriously", I don't mean that films should devoid themselves of humor. This film's script isn't above puns and some dialogues really stick out as poorly written. Even Robert Egger's The Lighthouse wasn't above making fart jokes. But what I mean is that an artist needs to sincere. It should have a heart. Honesty. Because that's what counts at the end of the day. And The Batman embodies that "honesty" more than most superhero films in recent memory.