You can read Charles Villanueva’s full review of the film here.
It’s not The Dark Knight: I feel like we need to get that out of the way. It isn’t flawless either, nor is it the game changer you’d expect from a director of Matt Reeves’s caliber. What it IS is a grounded take on Batman during a time period we haven’t yet explored on film, and the first two acts are brilliant in that respect. Colin Farrell is money, John Torturro is excellent, and Zoe Kravitz is downright cat-like as Selina Kyle. I love that they had Selina be Falcone’s daughter: it worked in the comics and it worked here. However, Paul Dano tries really hard to chase Heath Ledger’s performance for some parts, although he redeems himself at the end with his monologue in Arkham. Having watched it twice, it now is apparent that the Riddler’s plan was that the GCPD would arrest Wayne for being Batman, put him in Arkham with him, and then they’d be safe from the flooding. In that respect, he failed, but I had to watch it a 2nd time to figure that out so I left my first watch thinking he won. The third act was uneven, and the introduction of Barry Keoghan as the Clown Prince of Crime doesn’t do enough to save it in much the same way Sinestro’s heel turn at the end of Green Lantern didn’t save that film. The difference being the two acts work really well here, with it feeling equal parts Departed and Saw. My gripes with it are that Reeves doesn’t appear to gibe much time to Bruce Wayne (focusing the spotlight on Batman in this is either a choice or just the struggle of directing a exciting portrayal of the billionaire playboy philanthropist), and that there are literal shot for shot remakes from TDK. Namely, the shot of the sniper rifle overlooking the town square is lifted from when Bale is trying to save the Mayor and Gordon gets shot and the Riddler taking out the folks in power almost exactly like The Joker did. Also, you can’t say comic-accurate doesn’t work in this universe he’s crafting, and then have Bats inject himself with Venom. Those are my issues with it, but I give it a 4/5. The third act prevents it from being a classic, but it smokes The Dark Knight Rises and Batman Begins.
Anthony Canton III
The Batman is a film that spoke to the kid in me who read the Long Halloween. There are elements of Year one as well and those are mixed together seamlessly by Matt Reeves. Is it an incredibly long movie? Sure, but the movie’s length doesn’t take away from the story they told here. Robert Pattinson did a tremendous job playing a Batman who had no interest in being Bruce Wayne. It’s a character development that should be exciting going forward. Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, and John Turturro all have exceptional chemistry with Batman. They really make the film sizzle throughout. Finally, Paul Dano deserves his flowers for making this version of the Riddler as scary and intelligent as possible. This movie had tension, suspense, and great nods to the comics. The most important thing this movie accomplished was it gave some runway for this Batman/Bruce Wayne to grow and not make him fully formed from the jump. I look forward to future installments with different sets of villains as they set up No Man’s Land. The Batman gets a 9.5/10 from yours truly.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. At the same time, it didn’t redefine Batman cinema for me and I’m perfectly fine if I could not ever see it again. The visuals and score, unsurprisingly could be incredible. While it was stunning at times, it kind of hit the same note at all times. It was very cohesive, but pretty monotone. For me, that’s why it felt way too long—I’m not against 3 hour movies, but I felt a bit defeated when I realized there was still another 30 minutes left. I would have brought more snacks in hindsight.
I liked the supporting cast more than I expected to, which is saying a lot because I was expecting them to be good. Robert Pattinson was great, but I have no idea how someone gets “best Batman ever” out of that. He just did not have the specific presence enough to be irreplaceable in this movie. And that is not a shot at Pattinson, but more of a comment on the script and the way this movie portrayed Bruce Wayne/Batman.
The Riddler was great in the first act, I felt like he disappeared completely in the middle, and then flopped a bit in the final act. While the build up of the character is awesome, but his end game sort of erased his “grounded serial killer” attitude and turned him into a much cornier and pretty average comic book villain. I think a lot of the nuance was lost when his motivation and final move were revealed.
Overall, I’d give it a 7.5/10. But it seems like it’s easier to talk about the negatives when I’ve heard that it was the greatest comic book movie of all time for years. It was good and extremely well-made with its cinematography and score in particular, which is a very standard take. It knew how to be dark, grungy, and delightfully uncomfortable. And it did what it did well a lot. Zoë Kravitz stood out more than anyone, and I really really enjoyed Jeffrey Wright. Like all movies, it was not perfect and not for everyone. I do not personally think it will singlehandedly change the genre, but it’s great that it adds a relatively unique vision to the conversation.
For the time being, The Batman is going to remain a riddle to me. Wonderfully acted and beautifully shot, the film left me with some questions and concerns about the future of the character. I appreciated the patience with which director Matt Reeves set up the film’s mystery; I never felt like I was bored nor that the film wasted time. That patience gave the film time to show a side of Batman that hasn’t been properly explored in live-action films and I enjoyed it. Robert Pattinson’s pensive Batman might be my favorite version of the character so far, though further viewings of the film will be necessary before I can really be sure. The film gave him some great Batman lines (the your blood or mine one was a favorite) and provided a wonderful foil in the from of Zoe Kravitz’s Selina Kyle, who certainly had an impact on the Caped Crusader. Between his “loss” to the Riddler and his time with Catwoman, Batman will be forever changed and the film ends with the hint that when we next see him, he’ll be a very different man, and that fits wonderfully with where the character is in his journey.
My concern is that, for a film that is meant to be a jumping off point for a decade worth of Batman-related content, it feels VERY narrowly-inspired. Watching this film, it’s easy to get the idea that Reeves’ model of Batman was developed by reading the works of Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb. While each of those writers brought something absolutely fascinating to the character, honing in on their takes could potentially mean forsaking some of the other things that have truly defined the character over 83 years of stories. Could Ra’s al Ghul exist in this world designed by Reeves? If not, a wealth of stories and characters that come from that corner of mythology can’t either. Could any of the more fantastical characters exist here? If not, another corner of what has defined Batman over the years can’t be explored. Reeves’ Gotham seems like a bad place with bad mob guys and dirty cops, and if that’s all it is, I don’t care to see more of it. I want to see Clayface. I want to see Robins, all of them! Those things all seem like they’d take a huge leap from where Reeves feels comfortable. Had this been a one-off and not a film meant to kickstart a whole universe of spinoffs and sequels, I think I would have enjoyed it more.
After three viewings of The Batman, it is everything I’ve wanted to see in a Batman film. We have a Batman that lives by his code, who is vehemently against the use of guns and killing. Pattinson embodies Batman perfectly and is the first to truly embrace the world’s greatest detective aspect of the character. Every single one of his supporting characters and antagonists are perfect and feel definitive to me. Jeffrey Wright as Gordon works incredibly well alongside Batman; Zoe Kravitz is the perfect parallel to Batman; Colin Farrell’s Penguin was hilarious. Paul Dano’s Riddler, however, was a fantastic reinvention of a character who has previously only seen quite goofy adaptions. Dano especially shined in the scene between him and Batman in Arkham. Overall, while at times I do think the film could drag a bit, and it is long, the third act really shined for me and by the end I just wanted it to keep going. The thought of having to wait so long for a sequel is killer.
If Matt Reeves did anything right in The Batman, it was the atmosphere. There’s been a lot of comparing this film to The Dark Knight, once considered the definitive take on the character, and in this regard, Reeves blows Nolan out of the water. From the film’s opening moments, it plays with the iconography of Batman and Gotham in ways that make you fear the vigilante and his city right alongside its fictional inhabitants. It often feels like a Black Series comic come to life, teetering on the edge of brooding noir and cornball camp. A lot of the film is what I’ve always wanted to see in a Batman adaptation, with secrets of Gotham unearthed and the protagonist used as both a true detective and a force of nature. However, it’s not without its flaws. Parts of the overlong plot tend to lose their steam, and some baffling choices are made in regards to the Batman mythology. Overall, the film is a beautiful take on the character with room for improvement in an inevitable sequel.
The Batman is a curious piece that echoes David Fincher‘s noir era of storytelling. In his second year, Robert Pattinson‘s take on Bruce Wayne is damaged and lost to his own obsession with vengeance. The film plays strongly with those emotional ties and intersects it with a strong noir mystery that keeps you on your toes throughout. The sound design is what truly grips you in, especially with some shots focusing primarily on the threat that is Batman. The use of shadows for the character in making it believable why criminals fear him is a standout moment and may be the character’s best on-screen introduction. Yet, I will say the soundtrack does tend to feel like it is on repeat at times and doesn’t truly stand out as it could’ve. A lot about this film relies on subtlety to focus on the atmosphere it creates rather than becoming a pure fan-pleasing film. Still, it may be one of the best adaptations of the comic’s version of the character and a great start into what may be a very unique franchise.