‘The Batman’ Review: Holy Dark Film, Batman

Ashley Menzel reviews The Batman (2022) starring Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano, and John Turturro.

The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, and starring Robert Pattinson in the titular role, is easily one of the most anticipated films of 2022. Since the trailer aired during DC Fandom, I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this film and it delivered on most of the things it promised in the trailer.

The film starts out first by giving us a glimpse of the main villain in our story who we later learn is the Riddler (Paul Dano), as he targets the mayor of Gotham in his home. As the other key members of Gotham’s government and infrastructure become targets, The Batman and Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) delve into the twisted mind of the murderer and begin to uncover the seedy underbelly of Gotham’s elite. This investigation leads Batman to Selina Kyle/ Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) and her involvement with the club, The Iceberg Lounge, owned by Oswald Cobblepot (Colin Farrell) and frequented by a mob boss, Carmine Falcone (John Turturro).

As Batman digs further into the targets of the Riddler, the murders get more and more public with displays of true horror broadcasted for the world to see. During his search for the Riddler, The Batman discovers the unrelenting truth about his father and his role in the corruption of Gotham, all the while, the Riddler is sowing seeds of dissent throughout Gotham which culminate in largescale destruction and mayhem.

The Batman, instead of starting with the origin story we know so well jumps right into the current timeline and doesn’t spend time establishing the backstory we all know. It makes for a much more engaging start to the film. In a lot of ways, The Batman is what you would expect of a DC film in the sense that it is the typical darker film both in tone and visuals. It doesn’t seek to be fantastical but is grounded in reality. It skews more toward a crime story rather than superhero action that we see in other superhero films.

At some points, the film feels a bit gothic in its presentation. I would be lying if certain scenes in the film didn’t come off as too “emo” i.e. Toby Maguire in Spiderman but with less humor. It still keeps the grittiness we saw in Joker and leaves us with some of the same shock value as its predecessor. Where I think people struggle with DC films like Joker and this film, is that they feel more grounded in reality and like something like this could happen. This realness, while it can cause some uneasiness, really drives the film home.

At almost three hours, the film does feel long at times. The real momentum picks up after about the first hour when there is a shift in the film. I don’t feel that the whole Catwoman storyline was really suited for this film. It felt forced into the film to keep some sense of sexual intrigue, which for me, didn’t translate at all. Pattinson’s stoic Batman did not mesh well with the hypersexualized Zoë Kravitz in this film. I would have liked to see more dialogue for Pattinson to really establish him in the role.

Jeffrey Wright as Gordon was a good choice because Wright is just a legend, but the dialogue they gave him felt very forced and formulaic causing his performance to feel a little campy at times. The gritty detective delivering the lines with a gravelly voice just didn’t hit the mark for me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by the little screen time given to Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis). He is such a talented actor and had so few chances to shine in the film.

Where the film really succeeded was with the villains. Their characters are menacing and command attention. They’re so twisted and maniacal. To see Paul Dano in such a role was a bit of a surprise but he absolutely owned it making me love him even more. Colin Farrell is unrecognizable and just disappears into this character pulling us further into this world. Cobblepot can be a bit over the top and all of the humor they try to get from the interaction between Batman and Cobblepot doesn’t always land, but in general, serves its function in bringing some levity to a very dark and very twisted world.

Despite its very few flaws or points of weakness, The Batman is an absolute blast and leaves you craving more. It defines what it means to be transported to another world leaving me in a daze as I walked out of the theater. Pattinson’s Batman is different than those we’ve seen before. He leads with a seemingly stoic and detached character but has vulnerability and emotionality to it. His Batman feels more realistic, more every day than the overly macho masculine version we’ve seen many times before. This only adds to the connection and authenticity I felt with this Batman. Adding to the long list of its predecessors, The Batman is a must-see edge-of-your-seat addition to the catalog of Batman films.

The Batman opens in theaters on March 4, 2022.

Written by
Ashley Menzel is an avid film lover and lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves foreign films and dramas and reading books that have film adaptations. Her favorite movie of all time is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She loves Doctor Who, Supernatural, iZombie, and Grimm.

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