THE BATMAN

THE BATMAN MOVIE POSTERWhen the first stories about Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN were out I had the thought that many others might have.. do we really need another Batman movie? After sitting through this nearly 3 hour epic, the answer is a qualified definitely. Reeves did something I didn’t think could be done. He created a new take on the iconic character that I didn’t think was possible.
All Batmen are damaged in someway by the trauma of seeing their parents murdered. But, this isn’t Keaton and Burton’s slightly damaged but still functional Batman. It’s also not Bale’s brooding Dark Knight who spends three films trying to figure out how save Gotham City. And it’s also not whatever the heck Joel Schumacher was doing.
Reeves and Robert Pattinson have created a very raw and vengeful Batman. This Bruce is an adult but still is coping with his parents’ death. He doesn’t give much of a darn about Gotham. He’s Vengeance. He is simply out to cleanse his psyche and if he cleans up Gotham along the way, well that’s fine.
When we meet Batman he has been Batmanning for only a couple of years. So it’s not odd that he hasn’t figured it all out. His nemesis in this version is The Riddler, in an epic crazy performance by Paul Dano. It’s not Heath Ledger’s Joker, but’s pretty close.
This is a detective story. Batman is trying to figure out who is killing Gotham City’s leaders. The great detective in this case is wearing a cowl with bat ears. He relies on his knowledge and intelligence rather than technology (though there is a little of that, it is not leaned into like in the Nolan films).
While he is investigating Batman meets Zoe Kravitz’ Selena Kyle. She is a waitress at a bar owned by Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and run by The Penguin (Colin Farrell). Selena is trying to avenge the murder of her roommate and friend who was also the late mayor’s mistress. Ok, I’m going to try to avoid talking about the plot any further. Both to avoid spoilers and so it doesn’t get too confusing. I did not have trouble following it, but it’s easier if you’re watching it.
The Gotham City created by Reeves, his co-writer Peter Craig and his production team is dark, dank, damp and dreary. Yes.. the 4 “D’s”. It seems to rain all the time. It completely fits the tone of the film. If you feel comfortable going to a theater, please go. See this in the dark with other people on a huge screen.
Michael Giacchino’s score is simply fantastic (I’m listening to it as I write this). The needle drops are perfectly placed.
The acting is just amazing. I’ve heard Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne described as “emo”. Yeah, whatever. It’s just fantastic. There is far less Bruce than Batman in this movie, but he plays both sides of the character to near perfection. As I mentioned, this is a very depressed and damaged character and you feel that all the time. But Pattinson plays his confidence as the vengeful detective perfectly.
Kravitz’ Catwoman is smart, sexy and slinky. She is also a badass in a fight. The connection between her and Pattinson is perfect. They play off of and together extremely well. I need more of these two fighting crime.
The other major players are also fantastic. Farrell is unrecognizable behind prosthetics and a really spot on New York mobster accent. But he is a much needed foil for the hero. Turturro is really in his element here. He brings all his Turturro-ness to the role of the crime boss. He’s so much better than Tom Wilkinson in Batman Begins. Jeffrey Wright’s Jim Gordon is very good, but I still prefer Gary Oldman’s in the Nolan trilogy.
Dano is on another level here. He is truly frightening in several scenes. He is a psycho with a plan. Where Ledger’s Joker was an agent of chaos by his own admission, Dano’s Riddler seems more focused on one goal right from the start.
There are nods to QAnon-like conspiracy theories and January 6th style insurrection, but it’s not the main point and Reeves said he wrote this before all that insanity. You get the point without being beaten over the head with it.
Now it is nearly 3 hours long. It felt it after a while, but that didn’t ruin my enjoyment. I could see what Reeves was doing, but I could also see where it could have been trimmed. Can’t tell you where without spoilers.
I don’t think this is the best Batman movie ever made. That crown still belongs to The Dark Knight. But this grounded version of the Caped Crusader feels more real than any other. And that’s why I loved it.

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