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The Batman Review:
Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to be invited by Warner Brothers UK, to a special early screening of DC comics brand new “The Batman” starring Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Andy Serkis, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell and Jeffery Wright. This film, just wow. Even a few days after I witnessed this piece of cinema, I am finding it very hard to fault. The 3 hour run time you would think would be a down side however, it is not long enough. This is one of the greatest comic book movies ever made and also one of the most beautiful pieces of cinema I have seen in a very long time. Matt Reeves’ vision in the directing chair is crystal clear, you can tell that he is a fan of the Batman lore and mythos. With the help of his cinematographer, Greig Fraser, they not only brought the Batman to life but also many of the Batverse characters including the most important one of all, GOTHAM city itself.
As always guys, I am going to keep this as spoiler free as possible. I feel that this film needs to be seen without knowing every detail, as there were many elements in this film that I did not see coming and I think that really helped in my overall enjoyment of the film.
To start things off, guys! Robert Pattinson is THE BATMAN, the commanding presence he brings to the role is undeniable. The first moment that the Batman appears on the screen and walks into frame you feel the fear and the imposing nature that this vigilante has over the criminal world, that inhabits the streets of Gotham. Pattinson gives a performance as Bruce Wayne which is familiar and refreshing at the same time, what Robert does really well is capture that dark tormented younger Bruce, a Bruce that does not really understand the power he wields and the gravity of what he has taken on. This is a conflict Bruce has, he doesn’t know who to trust, he has shut himself off from the rest of the world and is trying to work out the balance of Bruce and Batman. Whereas before, many iterations have leaned into the idea that Bruce is the mask and Batman is the true identity; this film leans more into the idea that Bruce is the Batman with or without the mask, this is all he knows and all he cares about is ridding his city of the scum and villainy. Pattinson’s performance and overall presentation of the character has to be my favourite in all Batman films. This is a Batman ripped straight from the comic strips and the Arkham games, it has formed one of the best representations of the character to date.
Zoe Kravitz gives us a capable Catwoman, someone that already is working on her own to achieve her own form of justice. This film is not only a Batman film but also a Catwoman film. It really introduces her as a key alley, friend and love interest of Bruce. Colin Farrell as you may have seen from the trailers, is unrecognisable as Oswald I.e The Penguin. He gives a great performance, with a flair of the Arkham Batman games mixed with a Tony Sapprano esc vibe, I feel that Matt Reeves is building a world and these 2 characters are very much part of a much bigger story arc that we are yet to witness.
Jeffery Wright and Andy Serkis play two very important roles, Jim Gordon ( Wright ) and Alfred Pennyworth ( Serkis ). Gordon is still young in his jounery with the GCPD however, he trusts the Batman and already has a very special connection to him. He is kept at arms length by the caped crusader but both have mutual trust and understanding of each other. Alfreds character feels new and fresh, this may be a butler/bodyguard/father figure for Bruce, but Alfred in this film is very much part of team Batman. He helps out on cases from Wayne Tower and has an air of formidable power himself, I am excited to see what else is to come from this character.
PAUL DANO TAKE A BOW! As we are all film and comic fans, Heath Ledger set the bar really high with his performance of the Joker in the Nolan trilogy. What Dano and Reeves do, is really design one of the most scary and dangerous enemies The Dark Knight has ever had to face, in the form of the Riddler. Dano is unhinged as the Riddler, from the moment we first see this character, much like the Batman, he embodies a commanding presence on the screen, which is for lack of a better word… terrifying. This is one of the most dangerous villains we have seen on screen, no surrender no mercy just pure vengeance being encountered. There is no RIDDLER without the BATMAN. You can tell in Dano’s performance the Riddler really thinks he is the hero of the story and what he is doing is just and right and no different from what Bruce is trying to do. A mixture of The Zodiac Killer, The Joker and the movie SEVEN, this character sticks with you long after the credits roll. 100% the best on-screen villain in the last 10 years.
The score of this film is beautiful, emotional beats that hit hard, action packed moments elevated by Giacchinos score. The theme for the Batman and the Riddler are EPIC and really get stuck in your head, but also create an extra element to those characters on screen, the music is very much part of the performance.
One thing I took away from this, was that the film was very much a coming of age film for Bruce. Not in the sense that he has to make it to the end of school dance, or find himself, but in the way that it is about trust. Bruce learning to trust and accept help from those around him, learning to embrace this mantel he has created and what comes with it, learning to know what’s right and what’s wrong and how his actions have consequences but also how a city can accept him as there guardian. Gotham is not that welcoming to our caped crusader in this film, and Gotham as a city is having to learn how to live with the Batman and what to make of his antics… hero or villain they have not yet decided.
One thing Reeves brings to this film is natural humour. I was very surprised to have laughed a couple of times, and that’s really due to the success of building our connection to this version of the character so strongly and so quickly. With some very quick wit from Batman and Gordon, to some creepy and sadistic tones that we see from the Riddler, this film is not all doom and gloom.
The cinematography, just, what, wow, like, yes!!!! This film looks BEAUTIFUL from the shots of Gotham, to the rainy lower street levels, with the pop of neon, to the beautifully shot action bits, and that car chase is a thing of cinematic gold. If you have seen some of Reeves’s previous work, such as Dawn and War of the planet of the apes, you will understand what I mean. He has a style that is very much his, like Nolan for example, you know it’s a Reeves film with certain shots and those shots are beautiful.
The world building of this film is amazing, they not only spent time building on what this Batman would be, but also every character around him. From Gordon to Selina Kyle and from The Riddler to the city of Gotham this feels like a fleshed out and lived in world….and the possibilities that the end of this film sets up, got one of the best reactions from a crowd I’ve ever seen. Thank you Matt Reeves for thinking of the fans and pouring your heart and soul into this picture.
I think you can take from this, that I loved this film and I can’t wait to see it again when it comes out on March the 4th! It was one of the best films I have seen at the cinema ever and will sit very comfy in my top movies of all time list for years to come.
GO AND SEE THE BATMAN!