The Batman, as a movie, is all aesthetic, plain and simple. The film is gothic and dark in the way every good Batman story should be, but there are problems specifically with the execution of the directing. The story for this take on the Dark Knight finds Batman investigating the murders of high-level Gotham officials. Clues are being left as to why they deserve to be eliminated. Those clues are found by Lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and Vengeance (Robert Pattinson).
Additionally, we are introduced to Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz), who is searching for a missing friend who Batman believes may have information on Gotham’s elite The whole movie plays out like one giant game of call and response with people’s lives at risk What will Batman do to uncover the truth? How will what he learned affect his desire for vengeance? The story asks these heavy questions, but they hold no real weight.
I really wanted to like this movie. It potentially has an amazing story that could be executed well beyond just seeing Bruce Wayne as a brooding man in a costume. The puzzles that the Riddler had Gotham’s cops investigating were intense yet exciting. All of the questions and chaos were to prove how broken this system is within how Gotham functions. The Riddler sought to showcase how broken the city is and demonstrate that he could break it further. In his own way, he was trying to shine a light on the city’s darkness, but it in a lethal way. This was the movie’s best aspect because it made me feel I couldn’t trust anyone. That uneasiness completely guides the tension.
Tension is a tool for suspense, and that’s not how it is utilized here. It is used to unnerve the audience continuously. For brief functions of the story, that’s fine, but for that technique to be constant and repetitive just exhausts the audience. It especially becomes a major problem for a film that is supposed to focus on justice and the protection of the innocent yet can’t spend more time focusing on the missing person Selina is looking for and the fallout from it. This may be a factor in the growth that will eventually occur in a Batman sequel. If that’s the case, audiences will have to wait to discover how the character develops.
The one thing that I will say about the characters is that they feel genuine and lived in. This specifically applies to Oswald Cobblepot (Colin Farrell) and Selina. Both Farrell and Kravitz give everything in their roles, and it shows.
Tone is the one aspect of the production that really saves this movie. It’s so bleak and atmospheric that you’re inclined to believe the characters in it are part of your own dark reality, To see Batman sweeping through the city, trying to stop a variety of major incidents is something to behold. While Patterson doesn’t do the best job at taking in the grand scale that’s been crafted here, the actions of those around him and the environment itself make the movie watchable.
At three hours, is this film worth multiple viewings? Absolutely not. It is an entertaining initial watch but nothing more than that. When you’re challenging a film as distinctive as The Dark Knight, you need people to want to come back and go on another adventure. I’ll be intrigued by this version of Batman on his next adventure. Still, this first film didn’t set up the board well. Hollywood needs to learn that darkness is not always fun or deeply engrossing. Let’s hope that’s a lesson that doesn’t need to be repeated.