Some minor spoilers ahead
Nolen Kelly, Editor
Who could’ve predicted that a Batman movie would include Nirvana in the soundtrack twice, draw inspiration from David Fincher movies and real serial killers, slip in some surprise jokes and it would all be good? Life could not be better for annoying people, film bros and The Official Robert Pattinson Fan Club. I am all three.
“The Batman” is a dark and sinister crime drama with a lively depiction of a struggling city choked by a crime-ridden underbelly and an insane new killer in the streets of Gotham, all fended off by one man, Batman, played by Robert Pattinson (“The Lighthouse,” “Twilight”). “The Batman” is everything that I have ever wanted a movie about the caped crusader to be and is very much nothing we have ever seen before.
The Battinson Begins
Normally this is the part of a review where I talk about whichever side I have less of an opinion on, but with total honesty I have nothing negative about “The Batman” to say. Every complaint or minor issue that people have with this movie, I totally acknowledge and understand. But, I think most criticisms are easily defendable. The most common complaint that people have with the movie is the runtime, which clocks in at 2 hours and 56 minutes. If there is anything actually wrong with this movie, it’s that sometimes you can feel that it is three hours, but personally I love that feeling of a movie being long like this.
The story takes place in Batman’s second year as the vigilante in Gotham City and there are a lot of nice and specific details that show that he is still learning but already knows some stuff. A section of the movie is dedicated to one clue Batman is given that he figures out, but is also misled by the wording. In every movie Batman just gets it all right, which is great most of the time, since he’s a detective, but the fact that he couldn’t solve this one problem or understand the clue left my jaw on the floor five rows down from my seat. “The Batman” is mostly about the unraveling of the mystery of the story and it works wonders. This is a long movie with an antagonist who kills politicians and leaves riddles and clues all over the place; this was never going to be a straightforward narrative, so all the twists and turns in here are well worth the buildup and payoffs.
Pattinson is the best Batman, bar none. He’s a real detective, he doesn’t kill, has insane bat technology like his grappling hook and he is terrifying. The movie introduces him with shots of dark alleys and shadows, building Bats up in the most appropriately and bad*ss way possible. A lot of the tone of this movie is carried by Pattinson and his naturally brooding energy. His ability to play off or work with anyone he is sharing the screen with felt super organic, like he was friends or enemies with everyone. I believed he hated his villains The Riddler, The Penguin and Carmine Falcone. I believed he loved or could love Selina Kyle aka Catwoman. I believed he was still traumatized by his parents’ death and was taking some of it out on Alfred. I believed he was real friends with Gotham Police Officer Jim Gordon. This is a dark world, so both Batman and Bruce Wayne needed to fit this mold, and who better to do that than Pattinson? He makes sense in this role and fills it out completely. I have a feeling both Pattinson and Wayne’s music rotations are Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor’s movie scores and Death Grips.
Paul Dano (“Little Miss Sunshine” “There Will Be Blood”) was someone I was always excited for in this movie and he more than lived up to the expectations. Delusional, maniacal, intelligent, evil, lost and broken are all words that come to mind from Dano’s performance. I loved his overall rise to control and how he didn’t reveal his master plan until it was already in motion and too late to prevent, but even then he still didn’t even fully reveal it. The plan just happened and it was all so crazy. The final twenty minutes of the movie are some of the finest moments of writing in any comic movie and of any noir film in my opinion all because of the complexity of Riddler’s plan and how it unraveled very quickly. Aside from his big plan and his disturbing performance, I loved a lot of the small details he included in his character, like when he attacks someone he lets out a small scream because he’s not athletic or a fighter. Whenever he wears his mask he breathes really heavily, but not like panting, more like soaking in what he just accomplished, and it is freaky as hell. Dano is a talented actor, but he is sort of like a more confident Michael Cera, so seeing him in the antagonist’s chair for once was invigorating.
Zoë Kravitz (“X-Men,” “Mad Max: Fury Road”) as Catwoman is easily my favorite interpretation of the character. She felt closer to an actual spy than a thief in this film and her scenes in the Iceberg Lounge were some of my favorites of the movie. She had several moments where she perfectly balanced being a one-woman wolfpack and a vulnerable victim of circumstances. In my eyes, Kravitz is the only person who could play Catwoman currently. She makes sense in this world, in this character and in this movie. She’s quiet, yet ostentatious when she decides to be. She blends into the background but always stands out in every scene. On an unrelated note, I am currently in love with Kravitz and I will be shooting my shot in the near future. Wish me luck, readers.
Jeffery Wright (“Westworld,” “Casino Royale”) is also the best Commissioner Gordon in any interpretation. Gordon and Battinson have a very good working relationship and bounce off each other really nicely. They crack some light jokes at times, organically, and are really funny together. Gordon feels like a good cop. He’s someone you can trust and want to work with. There’s a scene that was aired on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that shows Gordon and Batman talking in the GCPD and it encapsulates every scene the two are in together.
I’ve talked a lot about the characters, but there’s one more character that is absolutely worth going out of your way to see and that is the unrecognizable Colin Farrell as The Penguin. He’s a nasty crime boss. He’s hilarious in almost every scene. He is an important character who spends a lot of time passing along information but still acts as a key figure in the story.
Colors, Cameras and Cobain
“The Batman” is a good-looking movie. Despite being a dark thriller, there is a pretty unique color palette to this film. While the majority of the movie is in darker shades of black, green and brown, there is a surprising amount of yellows, reds and oranges. The Iceberg Lounge has tons of flashing red lights, there are numerous scenes with a gorgeous yellow/orange sky in the background and there is a notable shot from the trailer with Batman holding a flare that just looks incredible with the red light contrasting the blackness of the scene. Cinematographer Greig Fraser may have topped his previous best-looking movie “Dune” with “The Batman,” because I could stare at this grimy, filthy, rainy, sloggy, pretty cinematic experience for a while. Michael Giacchino more than delivered on his score for the movie, making every scene feel grand and intense with his almost orchestral score. The main theme of the movie, “The Batman,” is such an epic piece of music that I wouldn’t mind if it was my theme music since I am vengeance. Speaking of music, I referenced Nirvana earlier because they are featured in this movie twice. “Something in the Way” is the closing song off of the band’s seminal 1991 grunge rock album “Nevermind.” The song appears in the first trailer and at the beginning and the end of the film. It’s a perfect fit for the tone and is a great song, too. At some point I got lost in the character of Bruce “Kurt Cobain” Wayne and believed that Pattinson was singing “Something in the Way” at one point.
“The Batman” is a movie I have been looking forward to for a long time and, as a lifelong Batman fan of the comics, video game series and previous films, it more than lived up to what I wanted. It’s long and exciting and an immersive experience worth sitting through. It’s been a long time since a movie has given me a refreshing experience like this. What else is there This should not be a surprise to anyone but I think this movie is a perfect 10 out of 10. “The Batman” is in theaters now.