Wow, what can I say about Matt Reeves’ take on The Batman? After nearly a decade of Snyder & Affleck nearly ruining cinematic Bat adventures for me (seriously, Batman using MACHINE GUNS and KILLING PEOPLE?! I mean, could you miss the point of the character’s backstory anymore? Especially when so heavily relying on the “Martha” reference to tie your “Snyderverse” together?)
Ok, enough of my ranting on past films by different directors and studio errors. This review is for the terror that lurks in the hearts of criminals, the shadows of shadows, The Batman.
Of all the cinematic adaptations of the comics over the years, Matt Reeves’ take on the hero has to rank in my top three, possibly top two (I go back and forth on Burton and Nolan on which is better). Reeves has assembled an incredible cast and crew, and he really gets the mood and feeling that Batman should possess.
I waited nearly a month after The Batman began streaming on HBO Max before watching it (I’m still not comfortable going out to the theaters, due in part to personal anxieties and part due to the increasing cases of new variants of the Covid virus rising in my area), the reason I waited was due to the level of hype I had already read online and watched in the news. If I go into the film pre-hyped, I’m almost always let down. So I leave my expectations cool off a bit first.
One of the concerns it seems people had with the film was the casting of Robert Pattinson as “Batman/Bruce Wayne”. I could see if viewers had only seen him in those films where he played a sparkly vampire taking a high school girl as his lover then bride. In my opinion, those films are rubbish, and, though they contain brilliant performers, the writing and directing cause the actors to perform well below their capabilities. No, if you’re worried that Pattinson can’t act, you need to see some of his other work, like Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse. There you can see his true range. He’s the best on screen Batman since Christian Bale.
Paul Dano as The Riddler is genius. He’s just the right mix of genius and manic lunatic to make a truly evil version of a villain who doesn’t always get his fair credit in film and TV portrayals. Dano brings a “Hush” level of darkness and brilliance to The Riddler, fooling viewers into thinking that just because he’s captured before the end of the film, that doesn’t mean his plans are over and done being executed.
Zoe Kravitz is another unexpected gem in The Batman. She’s brilliant as a young Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Just coming into knowing her powers over men and how she can easily twist their wills to do her bidding. There’s plenty of on-screen chemistry between her and Pattinson’s Batman as well. Enough that a “Bat and the Cat” sequel would not be unwelcome in the future. (At least by this viewer)
I would have to say the most shocking (to me) performance comes from Colin Ferrell as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin/Ozzy. He’s unrecognizable in all the make-up and the prosthetics, but his snide performance both makes you dislike him as the mob villain he is, but he shows just a smidge of heart that somehow makes you care or feel some sort of sympathy for his character.
Rounding out the main cast is Jeffery Wright, who portrays a younger Lt. James Gordon. There were some trolls online that didn’t think James Gordon should be played by an African American, honestly, how can skin color still be an issue in our world? I mean really. Wright is a great choice, especially when you consider this is a James Gordon earlier in his career. He follows The Batman’s lead a lot, but some scenes see him taking command and developing into the commissioner that we all are familiar with. Hopefully we’ll see him continue to develop in future films.
The other concern I read a lot about was the actual “darkness” of the film. Not in the metaphorical sense, but in an actual cinematography sense. Like, it was lit poorly. I did not find this to be true. Perhaps because I watched at home in 4K HDR10+, perhaps it’s just poor projections at cinemas (I know my local cinemas screens are not always the best), but I thought The Batman was shot beautifully. The cinematography and camera operators deserve Academy Award nominations, as do the location scouts and set builders for finding/creating such gorgeous Gothic locations while still keeping the film feeling modern.
As if you couldn’t already tell (if you’ve read this far) I LOVED Matt Reeves’ “The Batman”! I literally can not recommend it enough for Batman, Comic Book, DC Comics fans, or just fans of great cinema. Get to streaming, or pick it up on disc when it drops on June 7th!