Movie review: the Batman
A spoiler-free review of the sensational remake
by amir said, contributor
The Batman, the first solo live-action Batman movie since 2012’s the Dark Knight Rises, was released just last week – and it certainly lives up to expectations.
The film is directed by Matt Reeves and stars Robert Pattinson as the titular character, taking up the torch after past portrayals by Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, and Michael Keaton, among numerous others over the past several decades of Batman’s cinematic history. He is joined by Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle (better known as Catwoman), Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon, and Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth. These heroes face off against iconic Batman villains Carmine Falcone, the Penguin, and the Riddler, portrayed by John Turturro, Colin Farrell, and Paul Dano, respectively. As is Batman tradition, the story is set in modern-day Gotham City and depicts Batman’s career as a crime-fighting vigilante operating against the city’s festering criminal epidemic with his signature bat-themed armory consisting of high-tech weaponized utilities such as the Batsuit, Batmobile, and Batcycle.
The Batman stays true to its roots by following these iconic characters, settings, and devices; where it distinguishes itself, however, is its tone, themes, and social commentary. Unlike other iterations, the three-hour film places more of a focus on Batman’s detective escapades. Other films have looked over Wayne’s moniker of “world’s greatest detective” in favor of flashy fight scenes that focus more on his physical attributes than his mental ones as seen in the comics. The Batman insteadputs his sleuthing skills front and center as he works with Jim Gordon to solve a dangerous case involving Gotham’s elite and the nefarious Riddler.
Pattinson’s portrayal of the character as a tormented soul who flips from being soft-spoken to screaming as he pulverizes his enemies also shows a more realistic version of Wayne’s traditional backstory of an isolated orphan raised unconventionally after the death of his parents. He is clearly troubled by his past, and Pattinson plays this side of the character brilliantly.
The film’s social commentary, ranging from topics such as the objectification of women to White supremacy, is incredibly impactful, especially when compared to real-life issues found in Western society. Without getting into spoiler-level detail, the social commentary present in the film tackles these issues both subtly and blatantly, yet does so tastefully and in a manner that radiates a certain degree of genuineness and resonates with audiences. The Batman franchise has always highlighted organized crime and corruption, and the newest live-action foray does this while expertly bouncing other pressing issues relating to equity and equality against it.
The level of immersion felt in Gotham City is astounding, as the audience is taken through a variety of settings ranging from high-class mansions to the slums; the audience is introduced to characters of every social standing. Throughout its three-hour runtime, the audience is made to fully appreciate how fleshed-out Gotham City is, thanks to Matt Reeve’s brilliant direction and Greig Fraser’s expert cinematography. The thrills and tension are felt throughout the film, as the plot moves fast enough to keep it exciting while taking its time to thoughtfully explore its characters, make it well deserving of its lengthy runtime.
Exciting action sequences and suspenseful moments keep the audience on edge on numerous occasions throughout this neo-noir masterpiece. The Riddler in particular is depicted as a parallel to real-life serial killers and terrorists, which causes the audience to feel more of a sense of dread whenever he or his “riddles” are on screen. He keeps the audience on their toes when it comes to his mind-games and puzzles, creating an enemy formidable enough to face off against the caped crusader.
The Batman is a film that stays true to its comic book and cinematic roots while breathing fresh air into the franchise through its suspenseful and thrilling nature, biting social commentary, and unique iterations of classic characters and settings. The film’s detective noir elements are reminiscent of DC’s comics, while the well-choreographed action sequences and graphic violence are up to par with those of past films. I strongly recommend the Batman for any and all audiences, ranging from casual moviegoers to diehard Batman fans, as it is a consistently high-quality, relevant, and entertaining film that does justice to the eighty-year-old franchise and talented cast and crew behind it.