“The Batman” review


Benjie Thimangu, Radical Reviewer

A dark, grim Gotham is the setting for the most recent return of the caped crusader to the big screens. The newest rendition of Batman, “The Batman”, has already established itself as one of the best versions of the iconic character that we have seen.
The story starts two years into Bruce Wayne’s crusade to cleanse Gotham of criminals, as he describes in an opening monologue, “two years of nights have turned me into a nocturnal creature.”
The entire opening scene sets the mood for the rest of the movie. A montage of masked criminals on Halloween is shown doing various criminal things: sticking up a convenience store, spray painting city hall, and harassing an innocent civilian. The monologue describes how Batman is less of a hero and more of a symbol of fear to criminals and is immediately followed by a very well-choreographed fight scene.
The image of Gotham that is painted in the first ten minutes of the film is bleak, dark, and depressing. Criminals run the city, and even Batman himself is not a hero. The masked crusader walks with heavy strides that invoke suspense and fear and is the heaviest hitting rendition of the character that we have seen so far.
Of course, no good Batman movie can go without a good villain. Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy introduced Heath Ledger as The Joker, who gave one of the best performances of any movie villain ever, setting a very high bar for director Matt Reeves to meet. The Riddler, who saw his last appearance in “Batman Forever”, when he was played by Jim Carrey, makes a comeback.
From just the previews for the film, it was clear that this version of the villain would be different from the wisecracking villain played by Carrey. This rendition is heavily inspired by the zodiac killer, wearing a dark green cloak and mask, and leaving clues in the form of cyphers. However, appearance isn’t the only thing that makes him similar to a serial killer. He is a serial killer, with dark booby traps and the goal of revealing the shadiness of the government in Gotham.
Paul Dano does a great job of portraying the slightly unhinged, but inarguably genius killer, as Batman and Commissioner Gordan attempt to track him down. This relationship between Gordan and Batman is more personal than we have seen in other Batman movies, as they work together to solve the riddles left at crime scenes. The chemistry between the two is significant in several scenes as they cooperate to try to reveal the sinister background of Gotham’s elite, as well as find the Riddler.
The other relationship that is central to the movie is between Batman and Catwoman. This was heavily hyped up in posters and trailers such as “The Bat and the Cat.” Zoë Kravitz does a great job as Catwoman and is fantastic in every scene.
There were doubts from early on that Robert Pattinson, who starred in “Twilight” and “Harry Potter”, could step up to the role of Batman, but he certainly proved himself in the movie. Pattinson played the role of Batman much more than Bruce Wayne himself, and is very rarely unmasked in the film. When he is, he is full of anger and sadness, and very pale from so much time spent roaming the streets at night. His eyes are rimmed with eyeliner used when he wears the mask, which is a touch that I love. While previous Batmans also had eyeliner while the mask was on, the eyeliner miraculously disappeared when unmasked.
There is nothing that could be said that could do the score and cinematography justice. Composer Michael Giacchino’s theme is dark, sinister, and matches the theme of the movie all too well.
Cinematographer Greig Fraser continues his excellence following the 2021 release of “Dune”, which earned him an Oscar nomination. His work is subtle, but gives viewers a new perspective of Batman: a vengeful, frightening figure that lurks in the shadows. We can see the caped crusader from the eyes of villains as well as civilians.
“The Batman” has already set itself as a masterpiece in my eyes. It is one of those movies that toes the line between a PG-13 and R rating and is not at all appropriate for younger audiences, but for mature audiences, I cannot recommend it enough. It is refreshing to see DC move away from the failure that was the Snyderverse, and in a way that is completely different from the Marvel formula that we have grown accustomed to for big-name superhero movies. I am extremely happy that the film lived up to the hype that was generated by the trailers and advertising. As for a rating, I would give “The Batman” an overall 9.7/10.