From vampires to bats: “The Batman” review

Pattinson’s performance as the caped crusader sparkles on the silver screen

After years of anticipation, “The Batman” is finally here. The film follows the titular Caped Crusader (Robert Pattinson, “The Lighthouse”) who, after two years of fighting crime in Gotham City, goes up against the Riddler (Paul Dano, “There Will Be Blood”), a serial killer who specifically targets the most powerful people in the city. Through the investigation, Batman uncovers the city’s long-standing history of corruption. The film also stars Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell and John Turturro.

Before I get into the actual review, I think it’s important to note that it’s very difficult for me to judge “The Batman” solely from the perspective of a film critic. I have been a fan of Batman ever since I was a little kid. There was just something about the brooding nature of the character mixed with his strict refusal to kill his enemies (although he is content to beat the ever-loving crap out of them). Plus, I enjoy the idea of a traumatized rich man waging a one-man war against the criminals of his beloved city. It’s honestly just hard for me to fully explain why I love the character so much, so I’ll leave it at that.

But all of that is to say that I had incredibly high expectations for “The Batman” as soon as it was announced that Matt Reeves was tapped to direct and Robert Pattinson was cast as Batman. This had been one of my most anticipated films for the past few years, and I absolutely refused to believe that this movie could have been anything less than fantastic.

And for once in my life, I was right. “The Batman” is, in my opinion, the best live-action Batman film to date.

Most of my points on this film are incredibly positive, so let me get the negatives out of the way.

The film is 2 hours and 57 minutes long, making it the longest Batman film so far. I was personally never bored and I can’t really think of anything that I would remove, but it still felt like a lot. However, I will note that I recently rewatched “The Dark Knight Rises,” which is 10 minutes shorter than “The Batman” but somehow feels 30 minutes longer to me. So this is definitely going to be something that will affect everybody differently.

Other than that, I didn’t have any significant issues with the film.

Robert Pattinson’s take on Batman is, in my opinion, the best live-action interpretation. With his performance, he was able to fully convey intense rage and lack of control. The whole point of Batman in the film is that he is less focused on saving people and more focused on beating the crap out of criminals. He wants people to be terrified of him more than anything, and during most action scenes, we see him being incredibly violent to the point where it’s terrifying. A joke that I keep telling is that Batman doesn’t technically kill criminals, but their medical bills sure as hell do. And quite honestly, I don’t know how much a potentially crushed face would cost (especially in such a terrible city like Gotham). Anyway, Pattinson’s physicality adds a lot to the film’s action. His subtle performance also adds a lot to the rest of the film. Although he still has dialogue, it is sparse and a lot of the performance is based on his eyes, physicality and lower jaw. As stupid as that all sounds, it crafts a subtle yet expressive performance.

The rest of the performances are solid as well. My favorite of the film is easily that of Colin Farrell as the Penguin. Not only is he unrecognizable due to his fat suit and extensive prosthetics, but he is incredibly over the top in a way that feels right for this bleak world. Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, Andy Serkis and John Turturro also portrayed their characters in a comic-accurate way while still providing a sense of creative freedom.

The film is also incredibly well-shot. Cinematographer Greig Fraser (“Dune,” “The Mandalorian”) uses darkness and the color red to create some evocative and distinct images. There are also some POV sequences that are somewhat reminiscent of Hitchcock’s filmography. For example, the very first shot of the film is that of the Riddler staking out the mayor of Gotham (who he murders shortly after) right outside of his penthouse. Moments like this are very unique in comic book movies, so it’s pretty cool to see homages to classic films in a film like this.

The story is also awesome, and that’s definitely just coming from the Batman fanboy part of my brain. It is fascinating to see the story follow Batman tracking down a serial killer, and it’s fantastic to finally see him actually be a detective. In spite of Batman being known as the “World’s Greatest Detective,” the previous live-action films didn’t actually show him being a detective. This movie, on the other hand, focuses a lot on Batman having to investigate crime scenes and piece clues together to understand more about the Riddler. The film has a lot more in terms of story, as it is a three-hour-long movie, but all in all, I think this is a phenomenal take on Batman mythos.

By far, the film’s best aspect is the score from Michael Giacchino. All of his music is incredibly bombastic and epic in scale while occasionally containing some subtlety. Every leitmotif works for me, and Giacchino found a way to make them all feel unique. Plus, it’s a relief that this doesn’t feel like just another Batman movie score. After all, we’ve had the iconic Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer scores at this point, but as far as I’m concerned, Giacchino’s will be considered as fantastic as those.

All in all, I loved “The Batman” as a fan of comic books. I’ve watched it twice in theaters, and I’m excited to watch it a third time. Matt Reeves, Robert Pattinson, Greig Fraser and Michael Giacchino added an incredible amount to this film, making this the best live-action interpretation of Batman to date.

RATING: 9/10