*No twists or cameos spoiled…
Batman ventures into Gotham City’s underworld when a sadistic killer leaves behind a trail of cryptic clues. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans become clear, he must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued the metropolis.
Batman is a character that is so embedded in our culture now that it is hard to imagine our world without him. We have seen so many iterations, from so many Directors that it feels like at this point he is the American version of James Bond. This newest version is being helmed by Matt Reeves (CLOVERFIELD, DAWN and WAR OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) and he brought in an incredible cast of characters to fill his Gotham with. Starting of course at the top with our new Caped Crusader Robert Pattinson.
THE BATMAN owes a lot to movies like ZODIAC or SEVEN in a sense where this really is a full blown serial killer detective story. We always refer to Batman as “The Worlds Greatest Detective” but this is the first movie to fully explore that nickname. The Riddler (Paul Dano) here is the serial killer, and he is a villain unlike we have seen in this universe. He is basically just a normal guy, who is trying to make a change (like a lot of villains) but doing it at a grounded level. He is so creepy and so scary his scenes actually almost play out like a horror movie. Like most serial killer stories, he challenges our hero to a game of sorts, and it is awesome to try and watch Batman have to navigate through this insanity. The issue for me is when the movie tries to expand in the third act it feels like it is kind of out of nowhere because of how grounded the movie felt up to that point.
What this movie really feels like though, is an origin story for the universe Matt Reeves is creating, not unlike the TV show GOTHAM. We get to see Oswald (Unrecognizable Colin Farrell) before he is the Penguin, Selina (Zoe Kravitz) before she is the Catwoman, Nygma before he is the Riddler, Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) before he is Commissioner, and even Batman before he is truly the Batman we all know and love. In this story he is still young, still learning how to be Bruce Wayne and Batman at the same time, and yes he makes mistakes. It is cool to really see him trying to figure all of that out because we never are used to seeing a vulnerable Batman.
As far as the technical aspects of this movie, it is incredible. The visuals from DP Greig Fraser (DUNE, ROGUE ONE) are stunning. They intentionally used bad or damaged cameras to achieve the grungy look of the film, and the dark red color scheme gave this whole story a very distinct look. There are some truly stunning shots throughout this movie, some of the best we have seen in any Batman story. And I cannot go any further without mentioning the incredible score by Michael Giacchino. He is basically at the vaunted level of Williams and Zimmer at this point with his work, but this might be his best yet. The Pounding and Pulsating of the new Batman theme, and of course the theater shaking sound during the Car Chase, all add so much to this story.
Stock Up – Robert Pattinson
He was already a huge star and with movies like THE LIGHTHOUSE and TENET showed he can do different things and still be great in them. But this is going to take him to another level. He already is being touted by some as the best Batman of all time, and like I said gave us such a unique take on a character that has been played so many times. There is no doubt he probably cracks my top ten actor PFP list at this years Juicy’s.
Stock Up – Zoe Kravitz
Early Candidate for Female MVP of the Year here. She has been big for awhile now, but I think she feels primed to take the next step in stardom. She was awesome this year in Steven Soderberghs KIMI, and she continues to shine here as Selina Kyle. I love the way she is able to get under Batman’s skin and use that to her advantage. Her chemistry with Pattinson is off the charts and I really hope she continues to be a role in this franchise.
Stock Up – Paul Dano
He again is someone who has been around for awhile and has been in some of the best movies of all time. He did the auteur thing for years working with great directors, but it seems like Matt Reeves convinced him this would be the perfect way to get into a Blockbuster. He gets to play a twisted character and he does so masterfully. He is one of the best actors we have today and I am in for anything he does.
Stock Neutral – Colin Farrell
He is just a funny guy and a great actor, and like I said is completely unrecognizable in this role as Oswald Cobblepot. He is the funniest part of the movie and I cannot wait to see what he does with the character in his HBO Max spinoff show.
*A couple other tidbits
- Loved the partner dynamic between Gordon and Batman.
- John Turturro as Carmine Falcone was Chef’s Kiss.
- The cameo at the end felt forced in and did not work for me.
- This is a very heavy Batman movie, hardly any Bruce Wayne.
Man did I love this movie. Even if it suffers a bit to the finish line, there is so much good in here. From the fantastic performances, to the one of a kind look, to the unique Detective tone and the deafening sounds of Gotham, this is a new Batman for the ages. I am very excited to see where this Universe goes with Reeves at the helm.
*You can find my 2022 Movie Rankings here.
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