Sitting down to write this review, reminding myself that there is really only three comic book characters I have ever truly cared about. The X-Men, which I devoutly every Saturday morning at 11am; Superman, along with having a weird connection to a few of the films – which is another story entirely, and you guessed it, Batman. Batman defied logic for me as he didn’t need a super power, his super power was being Bruce Wayne as well, as he fought off The Penguin, The Riddler, or The Joker, whichever villain you pick. And he always did it with the help of Alfred, who not only took the role of the dad figure in his life, but helped him become The Batman in every way. Sometimes there was Robin by his side, sometimes there wasn’t, but even from the beginning in order for Batman to be, there must be Bruce Wayne as well. And while there have been many actors portraying him, numerous takes and variations of him as well during the years, this time we have Robert Pattinson picking up the baton here in dual role of The Batman/Bruce Wayne.
This 2022 version of the film is directed by Matt Reeves and as noted, stars Robert Pattinson (The Batman) and features quite a few villains, bringing back The Riddler (Paul Dano), and The Penguin as his true self here, Oswald Cobblepot (Colin Farrell), in two very different plot arcs. The Riddler here as well, brings a very different look to what we normally see as his costume as revealed in the trailer. Dano wears what basically looks like a full head cover with goggle type eyes looking more Unabomber-ish than what we expect and know The Riddler to be, with his identity not being fully revealed for some time. And Farrell as The Penguin/Cobblespot is completely unrecognizable as himself with some incredible makeup/prothesis done here. As well, helping defend Gotham City on the law and order side is James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), who seems to be the only law enforcement that is on Batman’s side, but alas still with the inevitable mustache.
And yes, the story line is very much the usual fare of villains courting danger in the city of Gotham and one of our most prominent ones here is Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), who is running an underground club, and may or may not have connections to The Penguin as well. As always trusty Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), is there to help The Batman through all the ups and downs of dealing with a city that has a love hate relationship with him. Speaking of a love/hate relationship, back again as well is Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), and one of the true highlights of the film. And how can you not love that they take it back old school somewhat, as even in the cheesy TV show, Batman & Catwoman had constant love/hate relationship and here, that story line features again. As well Kravitz gives it back to the old school ‘exotic’ as well, heralding back to the days of Eartha Kitt, Julie Newmar and Michelle Pfeiffer, bringing back to the role something essential that had been sorely missed.
To delve into this entire movie after you see it is like unpacking after a long vacation, and I mean really long vacation as this is a very long movie with a lot to unpack. You won’t find me giving away any storyline spoilers here but there are moments to love, from the dark gritty mood of it all, to the set pieces, to the cinematography, and the remarkable film score are all simply wonderful. The action is good throughout most of the film, but slows itself down at times almost a second to much with making this Batman into more ‘detective’ versus a Caped Crusader who just gets summoned by the infamous bat signal to help whatever crime is occurring in the Gotham City. It also felt like it could’ve ended at least three different points in times before it did and left us with a bit of hanging suspense for what’s to come. The ending as is, plus the post-credits scene almost betrays the fact and leaves one to realize this is definitely not a one off Batman like they have professed it to be.
And then we come down down to performance as we all have our favourite Batman and on everyone’s mind is how Robert Pattinson will fare as The Caped Crusader himself, The Batman. For me your Batman is only as good as your Bruce Wayne, it’s a fine line and both have to be equally as good for a true Batman to be. But Pattinson doesn’t connect here at all with the Bruce Wayne aspect of the character, to the point where I had flashbacks to him reminiscent of his Twilight character days. His Bruce Wayne portrayal here is not done in the usual classy, almost elegant manner of the billionaire who hides behind his mask. Now, on the better point is his Batman isn’t bad, not great mind you, but definitely not bad enough to distract through the movie as a whole, but enough to distract when being Bruce Wayne. In other words, he is good, but not great. Farrell however is very good as Cobblepot and again, you wouldn’t know it was him had we not known in advance who was under that look. And Paul Dano, while not the best Riddler look, his performance of the character, especially at the end was nothing short of spectacular. But there is also one huge standout here and that my friends is John Turturo as Falcone. He is a perfect villain and gives everyone on the screen a go for their money with his role being as decadent as it is. And lastly we have Catwomen who with her eyes made up, brilliant and beautiful as Selina Kyle, add her cat mask and ‘adventures’ on her motorcycle, and again, the love/hate relationship with Batman done with some very real chemistry, here she is a big meow in all the right ways.
All in all as you unwrap it all in your head to process it, and it will take a more than a moment to do so, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that it was good, just maybe not great. But as well it’s probably, no it’s most definitely too long and it’s a bit unclear on the direction they will go next, but it’s a solid, entertaining time in the seemingly never ending line of Caped Crusader contenders. Where it rates for each person, will be just that, up to each individual person.
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Review Screening: Thursday, February 24, 2022 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.
“THE BATMAN” FROM WARNER BRO. PICTURES WILL BE OUT IN THEATERS FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2022