What it is: The latest instalment of the DC Comics franchise, a standalone film from that of previous incarnations of the comic book characters. THE BATMAN strikes a somber and serious tone set by fellow standalone movie, JOKER, and is directed by Matt Reeves – replacing the man originally tapped to bring this story to the big screen, Ben Affleck – and focuses on a younger Batman as he attempts to find and stop a vicious serial killer (The Riddler) who is targeting some of the rich and famous of Gotham.
What Dan thought: I thoroughly enjoyed the movie – while THE BATMAN registers just under three hours on the clock, the time fair nips along, thanks to a packed yet brisk script by director Matt Reeves and Peter Craig. Robert Pattinson, playing a younger Batman than we have seen on the big screen to date, may have been reported to have shied away from the exercise usually required to fill out the Batsuit but his Dark Knight ends up being keen, lean and especially mean in the role as the crime-fighting vigilante… while it is disappointing to report that perhaps R-Patz doesn’t hold so much attention as alter-ego Bruce Wayne. Your full reversal to what many people may have expected from the performance.
However, when it comes to the Bat’s Rogue’s Gallery, Paul Dano’s Riddler may be the most memorable villain we have seen in Gotham since Heath Ledger‘s Academy-award winning turn as the Joker in 2008’s THE DARK KNIGHT and, while Zoë Kravitz (Selena Kyle/Catwoman), Jeffery Wright (Det. James Gordon), Andy Serkis (Alfred) and a heavily made-up Colin Farrell (Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin) may round out the stellar cast list, their roles as allies, villains and anti-heroes all come secondary to Dano’s powerhouse performance.
That’s not to say that the rest of the cast don’t equate themselves adequately (Zoë and Colin are particular highlights, with Farrell almost unrecognizable in his role) but the movie hinges on Bruce’s hunt for the serial killer and Dano is given the opportunity to be particularly menacing.
The afore-mentioned Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, John Turturro as mob boss Carmine Falcone, and the always terrific Andy Serkis, not donning the ubiquitous mocap bodysuit for a change as Alfred Pennyworth, are all outstanding in their limited time on the screen.
The score is composed by Michael Giacchino, a chap who most certainly has form in scoring a superhero action film, and here he composes with his trademark flair for distinctive themes and phrases for each of the gathered ensemble. The cinematography is gritty and full of sharp contrast, the film given an almost bleached sepia-tone atmosphere thanks to DP veteran Greig Fraser – my screening wasn’t in the IMAX format but you can tell from the various suspenseful and action-packed set-pieces that the film has been designed for the larger, richer format, and THE BATMAN is one film you need to see on the biggest screen you have available to hand, even for that generous near-three-hour running time.
Dan’s grade: A solid ‘A’. If the genre is your bag and you’re looking for a movie to kick off your superhero/comic book movie itch for 2022 – and, let’s be fair, there’s a fair few coming down the pipe – this film will most certainly scratch it. Do yourself a favor and see THE BATMAN in IMAX if you have the availability: while Reeves and his cast ground the film with intimate and rich performances, this still delivers on the promised spectacle so you won’t regret making the effort for the larger format.
THE BATMAN premieres in the United States on March 1st on a 350-screen IMAX advance run, getting a wider domestic and worldwide release on March 4th. The film will become available to stream on HBO Max. forty-five days after its theatrical debut.
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