Obviously this movie just came out so I’m going to do a non-spoiler review up top and then move into spoilers later on. But I will clearly mark when that is, so quit your worrying. Also if you’re that worried about spoilers, maybe don’t read this until you see the movie. I knew a lot about this movie going into it, either from reading too many comic books or too many interviews, and I might have a different definition of spoiler than you do. Anyway, it’s time to review The Batman!!! Well, not for you. You’re not reviewing The Batman. Unless you are. How would I know? I barely know what I’m talking about currently. Anyway, you get the point. Review time!
The Batman Non-Spoiler Review
I’ll give you my general consensus right away: I enjoyed it, but I think there were some elements missing that I wish they would have given us more of. This isn’t really a movie with shocking spoilers if you’ve ever read a Batman comic book, but I won’t cover any major plot elements of the mystery at large in this part of the review. For now I’m just going to focus on the characters(In broad, non-spoilery terms only), the cinematography, and the music.
The Batman stars Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell, Peter Sarsgaard, and John Turturro. It was directed by Matt Reeves and the score was composed by Michael Giacchino.
The Batman is about a billionaire named Bruce Wayne who secretly operates as a masked vigilante known as the Batman(Sorry, spoilers). It focuses on the second year of his career, as he teams up with Jim Gordon of the Gotham Police Department and a cat burglar named Catwoman(Or maybe she never expressly calls herself Catwoman? But the context is there, and you all know Selina Kyle becomes Catwoman. Oh, you don’t? You mean to say that you haven’t also wasted years of your life on comic books? Well, that’s okay then.) to take down the serial killer known as the Riddler who is killing high profile corrupt Gotham officials. Along the way he has run-ins with mob boss Carmine Falcone and his right hand man, Oz. There’s also lots or police corruption and rain that he has to deal with, too. This is a very rainy city.
Bruce Wayne AKA The Batman – Robert Pattinson
I will admit that I was disappointed when I heard who they cast to play Batman, but mostly because I wanted them to cast Jon Hamm. I thought Robert Pattinson did a good job as Bruce Wayne overall. This Bruce Wayne is a bit of a recluse, so there aren’t any scenes of him being a pompous playboy. But that’s okay, because that version of the character doesn’t really work for this iteration of Gotham. I also feel that Christian Bale perfected the “many sides of Bruce Wayne” take, so it’s good they’re mixing things up. In a different Gotham it would be pretty obvious that this Bruce Wayne is Batman, but everyone’s so preoccupied with how crime-ridden the city is that I can believe that nobody would be paying that much attention. I would have like to see more of Bruce Wayne not being Batman, but again, the point is that he doesn’t do much as Bruce, so that’s more personal preference than anything else. I also wanted them to lean more into the physical toll that his two years of vigilantism has taken. There’s no scenes of him stitching himself up after a bad fight, and I kind of got the impression that it isn’t really affecting him? So that would’ve been nice. He just should’ve gotten the shit kicked out of him a bit more, or been more affected by the bullets hitting his armor. Also this is an intentionally low-tech take, but more gadgets or gadget construction scenes to establish the technological savvy of this Bruce Wayne would have been nice. But Robert Pattinson did a good job. He’s probably my favorite Batman? I don’t particularly love any of them, including Christian Bale. He was always a better Bruce Wayne than a Batman. Oh, and I’ll talk about the costume in a bit, because I have a lot to say about that too.
I wanted to add a bit about what I said earlier, since I’ve now seen the movie for a second time. The first time I watched it I thought Pattinson’s performance outside of the mask was a bit emotionally stilted and off, like he didn’t really know how to interact with people. It felt a little bit like he had regressed to what I had heard his performance in Twilight was like. But when he’s in the mask he seems completely different. So having seen it a second time, I think I now understand what he was going for. I said earlier that I thought they’d dropped the “two sides of Bruce Wayne” thing. But it kind of seems like Pattinson took that on at a whole new level. I got the impression that this Bruce Wayne is still very much dealing with his emotional trauma, and when he’s Batman, he doesn’t really have to deal with that. It’s been said many times in the comics, and in this as well, that Bruce Wayne is the mask and Batman is who he really is. So it seems like he played Bruce Wayne as being very uncomfortable in his own skin, because he’s wearing a mask that he hasn’t quite figured out yet. His performance was a lot more layered than I previously believed, and it was really fun to watch him portray this 80 year old character in a very real way that I was not at all expecting.
Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman – Zoë Kravitz
It’s been a while since I watched Batman Begins or The Dark Knight Rises, and I’ve never seen Catwoman. But this is my favorite version of Catwoman that we’ve gotten on the big screen. Sorry, Anne Hathaway. I like you, but The Dark Knight Rises isn’t a good movie, and I don’t remember loving your performance. Zoë Kravitz nailed the mysterious femme fatale nature of the character. Beyond that I don’t have much to say. She’s a good actress and she’s very good in this movie. Selina Kyle isn’t an especially complicated character to play, but she seems to be the first actress I’ve seen who’s nailed it. I hope Zoë Kravitz gets cast in so many other things after this.
Jim Gordon – Jeffrey Wright
I love Jeffrey Wright. I think he’s a great actor and I would watch him in literally anything. I do think that of all the actors in this, he probably had the biggest shoes to fill. One of the best things about the Nolan trilogy was Gary Oldman’s incredible and comic-accurate performance as Jim Gordon. Oh, and JK Simmons played Gordon too, but he was given like five lines. So I am happy to report that Jeffrey Wright did a very good job. I wouldn’t say he’s better than Gary Oldman, because I think they’re on par. Although I will say that this version of Gordon is a little cavalier about all the corruption going on in his department. And since this isn’t an origin movie we aren’t really given a reason as to why he trusts Batman so implicitly. They also don’t show his family or his life outside the GCPD. I guess what I’m saying is that I liked Jeffrey Wright in this a lot. But Nolan seemed more interested in giving Gordon a bigger storyline. And I guess that if Matt Reeves tried to do that now it would be seen as a bit repetitive. Also Jeffrey Wright and Robert Pattinson are a very good duo. They had a fun little buddy cop dynamic going on in the middle of all this noir madness. He also has a few funny moments that I really enjoyed. I can’t get into any of them here, but he’s very funny.
Alfred Pennyworth – Andy Serkis
Okay. Time to complain a bit. I love Andy Serkis. He’s a very charismatic man and a very good actor. He’s also barely in this movie. That may be a tiny spoiler, but I really would have preferred to see more of him in general. I liked his portrayal of Alfred, and I liked his scenes with Pattinson. But he should have been in this way more. Hopefully there’s more of him in the sequel, which there will inevitably be.
Oz AKA The Penguin – Colin Farrell
First off, the prosthetics and makeup department deserve many awards for the way they transformed Colin Farrell in this movie. He looks completely unrecognizable and I definitely wouldn’t have known it was him if I didn’t already. Performance-wise, he did a very good job. He’s not in it very much, so I don’t have a lot to say. He’s just a good actor and I’m looking forward to seeing his spin-off show.
Carmine Falcone – John Turturro
John Turturro is a very good actor in pretty much everything he’s in. Currently my favorite TV show is Severance on Apple+, and I may or may not speak more about why it’s so good at a later date. But John Turturro is also in that as a timid office worker who loves company rules and history. Or at least he’s that half the time, and we have yet to see what the other half of him is. Severance is an amazing show with a great premise and that isn’t at all the point because I need to talk about The Batman right now. Or I don’t but I decided to. Anyway, the point is that I’ve been watching him play this completely regular nice worker guy for the past few weeks, and in The Batman he’s an intense gangster guy. And it’s very jarring because he’s equally convincing as both characters. I can’t say much else about him outside of spoilers, but Carmine Falcone has always been this nothing gangster in the comics, and they could have cast literally anyone else to play him. But they cast Turturro, and he made the character a lot more interesting.
??? AKA The Riddler – Paul Dano
I obviously can’t say a lot about this character until I get into spoilers, but I thought Paul Dano did a really good job in this. The first time I saw the movie I was a little disappointed because he wasn’t really in it as much as I expected. But the second time I focused more on the scenes he was in and really grew to appreciate his performance, especially in a scene I’ll talk about later. I have heard a lot of reviews where people are saying that he’s “The best Batman villain performance since Heath Ledger’s Joker!” Which I don’t disagree with, but that isn’t really an achievement. After Heath Ledger there was Bane and Talia Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises, and neither of them were very good. And if you count Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, your options are Jesse Eisenberg’s horrible performance as Lex Luthor, Doomsday(Gross), and Steppenwolf. Those aren’t good options. So I don’t know that I’d brag about that, even if it is true. And this take on the character may be far away from bowler hats and question mark laden tuxedos, but it works for the vibe Matt Reeves was going for.
District Attorney Gil Colson – Peter Sarsgaard
So apparently Peter Sarsgaard also played Hector Hammond in that horrible Green Lantern movie. Who knew? He’s in maybe three scenes in this movie, but I wanted to talk about him because I really enjoyed his performance. There will be a few minor spoilers because I’m going to talk about him being corrupt, but also it’s a Batman movie, and corrupt politicians are always abundant in Gotham. Anyway, Gil Colson is a corrupt District Attorney. He takes drugs and hangs out at a popular mob spot with known criminals. He’s a very bad man that’s probably horrible to women. But he’s also a really nice guy. When he first showed up, my thought wasn’t “Ugh, this guy is a horrible human being.” It was “Hey, this guy is really nice and fun to hang out with!” And that’s really good! Most of the time if you watch a movie or show and there’s a character who turns out to be a horrible person or just really corrupt in general, you can tell from their first moment on screen. Because the actor goes out of their way to make the character seem abhorrent. Whereas I was told that Gil would be a bad guy, and then we met him, and I thought he was really cool. Which makes perfect sense to me. Gil Colson would not have been elected District Attorney if he was obviously a philanderer and a jerk. He was elected because people thought he was nice and they trusted him to take care of them. So he played it completely true to life, as an awful man who just seems really nice. He was very, very good in this movie, and I want them to make a Gil Colson movie now.
The cinematographer in this, Greig Fraser, previously did the cinematography for Star Wars: Rogue One, and Dune, which makes complete sense to me. Because those two movies, and this one as well, regardless of quality, are very beautifully shot. I don’t really have a lot to say about it beyond that, but I wanted to recognize the great work he did on this movie, and other movies. There are multiple shots in this film that would make fantastic posters that I would definitely buy if someone made them. People need to keep hiring him because he obviously knows what he’s doing. Oh, and the set design and general world-building in this is also incredible. The movie was primarily filmed in Liverpool and Glasgow, so there’s a very gothic feel to the city of Gotham that more recent interpretations were missing.
The music is incredible. The score is different from pretty much every superhero movie I’ve seen, and really reflected the noir detective tone they were going for. As I said in a previous post I’ve listened to it multiple times already. The composer, Michael Giacchino, is very good at what he does, as evidenced by his previous work on Up and Spider-Man: Far From Home. He’s also a big fan of giving all of his compositions pun names. My favorite track in this movie is called “Highway To The Anger Zone”. I love a good Kenny Loggins reference. Again I don’t have much else to say, but the score is excellent.
This was easily my favorite part of the movie. I like this costume so much. In fact, I might even like it more than Gil. Which is obviously insane, because I love Gil. I have varying opinions on all the other Batman costumes, but this is easily the best. The cape is made of some sort of canvas/leather material and it looks really cool when he moves. There are various spots for gadgets and utility pockets all over the suit. The cowl is great and also really expressive. And they don’t say this in the movie, but his chest emblem(The bat in the center of his chest) is the gun that killed his parents, melted down. The thing that destroyed his childhood now protects him from harm. And he can and does use it as a knife. I love his gauntlets too. It’s just a terrific costume in general, and it rivals my former favorite live-action superhero costume: Spider-Man’s costume in the last scene of Spider-Man: No Way Home. The picture at the beginning of the post is kind of the best photo of his costume I could find, but there are others out there. It’s just super good and I like it too much.
Okay, guys. If you haven’t seen the movie then leave now. It’s spoiler time.
Seriously, go away.
Okay, really go away now if you don’t want any spoilers.
Have I given you sufficient time to leave?
No?! Come on!
No more warnings, I’m gonna jump right in. If you ruin it for yourself it’s on you now.
The Batman Spoiler Review
Okay, quick rundown if you haven’t seen the movie but you still want to read this for some reason: The Riddler is Edward Nashton, an embittered Gotham citizen who was orphaned at a young age and forced to grow up in a claustrophobic, decrepit, and poorly run orphanage. At one point he claims that he stayed in a room with 29 other boys, and was constantly being attacked by rats. Very shortly before his untimely passing, Thomas Wayne had decided to run for mayor on a platform of renewal. He promised to revamp the orphanage and find all of the kids new homes. But then him and Martha were killed, and the orphanage was forgotten and continued to rot. Carmine Falcone, who was saved from a nearly fatal gunshot wound by Thomas Wayne, is believed to have orchestrated the death of the Waynes. There was a reporter who worked for Salvatore Maroni(Another crime boss) that was revealing very dark secrets about Martha Wayne’s past, and Thomas wanted to protect his wife. So in a moment of weakness he asked Carmine to convince the reporter to keep quiet. Instead Carmine killed him, because he wanted to have dirt on Thomas. Thomas told Carmine that he would go to the cops with this information, and died later that night. All of this information is revealed by the Riddler throughout the film, as he attempts to “unmask” the city’s corruption. Carmine is also Catwoman’s father and he controls pretty much every cop and government official in Gotham. Towards the end of the movie, Batman stops Selina from killing Falcone and drags him out of his club, the Iceberg Lounge, with the intention of having him arrested and brought to justice. Unfortunately this is all part of Riddler’s plan, and Riddler shoots Falcone as soon as they leave the building, before going to a nearby diner to wait for the cops to show up and arrest him. Batman visits him in Arkham and quickly realizes that Riddler has more planned for Gotham. He then runs back to Riddler’s apartment and discovers that Riddler has placed seven bomb-filled vans around Gotham’s sea wall. As soon as the new mayor, Bella Réal, is elected, the bombs go off, flooding the city. At the same time Riddler’s followers show up at Gotham Square Garden to kill Réal and all the people that try to seek shelter. Batman, Catwoman, and Gordon stop the Riddler goons and save Réal, who galvanizes the city, ultimately ruining the Riddler’s plan. There’s a bunch of other stuff that happens, like a scene where Riddler talks to the Joker. But not Jack Nicholson, Jared Leto, or Joaquin Phoenix. This one is played by Barry Keoghan, who was also Druig in Eternals. Are you confused yet or should I keep going? I’m not going to spoil everything because people should watch this movie. I am going to talk about a few specific things below though.
The Opening Sequence
At the beginning of the movie we are taken all around Gotham and shown criminals running about on Halloween. As they go about their business, Pattinson narrates about how the Bat signal is a warning, and as each criminal sees it, they look into the shadows behind them and run away. “They don’t know where I am. They think I’m hiding in the shadows. But I am the shadows.” I thought this was a really cool way to introduce the character and the effect that he’s had on Gotham. Not long after this bit he beats up a group of thugs who are trying to hurt a man on the subway. But when he’s done and the criminals run away, the man looks at Batman and begs him not to hurt him. So we are quickly shown that the effect he’s had isn’t necessarily a positive one, and this is the lesson he needs to learn.
There are two Riddler scenes in particular that I really enjoyed. There’s his scene in Arkham talking to Batman, when he finally explains why he did everything that he did. He gives a monologue about being a sad orphan that wanted to finally be seen for once, and he thought that if he unmasked Gotham, nobody would ever forget him. His whole storyline about being a sad, downtrodden, mentally ill man who was mad at a less-than-perfect Thomas Wayne who was running for Mayor was a bit too much like Joker, I thought? I’m actually really surprised nobody else has mentioned that. But Paul Dano still did a really good job with it. And there’s a scene where he tells Gil he’ll defuse the bomb he put around his neck if he answers three riddles correctly in the span of one minute. It’s a really stressful scene, and Gil unfortunately doesn’t make it through, despite being the best character. But I found it oddly funny? Paul Dano kind of played it like he was hosting a really sadistic game show, and I really thought it was fun to watch. It was like a Golden Age comic book brought to life, but with a much grittier twist.
People have been calling this a humorless movie. And that isn’t true. Are there less jokes than the Nolan movies? Maybe. But there are tons of jokes in this, depending on your interpretation. The bit where the Riddler exposed Gil Colson on social media and then blew him up is one of them. There’s a bit where all the cops want to arrest Batman, but Gordon convinces them to let him talk to Batman alone. And for the next thirty seconds, Gordon tells Batman his plan for getting him away from all these corrupt idiots, but he moves his head and speaks very sternly. So it sounds like he’s scolding Batman, even though he isn’t. And then he has Batman punch him in the face and run away like he escaped. And the next time they see each other Gordon says “You know, you could’ve pulled your punch a little.” And Batman says “I did.” There’s a bit where Gordon and Batman find the Mayor’s severed thumb(Left by the Riddler) attached to a flash drive that needs a thumbprint to activate, and Batman says “Thumb drive.” And there’s another scene where Gordon and Batman zip tie the Penguin’s hands and feet and interrogate him for a bit before driving away, and he tries to waddle after them in a very penguin-like way. There’s also a lot of awkward interactions between Batman and the other cops at various crime scenes. There’s people trying to walk over to where he is and getting all uncomfortable. There’s a guy who thinks Batman is breaching protocol by touching evidence and then Gordon reminds the guy that Batman’s wearing gloves. It’s funny. So there are some jokes I laughed at.
The Chief of Police
Right before Batman and Gordon have that fake argument I just talked about, both of them are scolded by the Chief of Police, Mackenzie Bock, who is played by a man named Con O’Neill. I wanted to highlight his little scene in this because he’s in it for thirty seconds but he really stood out to me. He’s also in the new Taika Waititi show, Our Flag Means Death, which came out this week, as Blackbeard’s right hand man. He’s a good actor, and I was glad to have discovered him twice this week.
As I said in my previous post, this movie was very much inspired by Batman: The Long Halloween, and there are lots of bits in this that were taken straight from that. The ones I noticed were all about Carmine Falcone. There’s a scene at a funeral where Carmine Falcone talks about how Thomas Wayne saved his life which I’m pretty sure is from the first couple of pages of The Long Halloween. And Catwoman being his daughter and then clawing his face with her nails is another Long Halloweenism.
The Best Line In The Movie?
There’s a scene where Batman and Gordon are trying to figure out what Riddler’s next move is, and Batman thinks that he’s meant to be the next victim. So he turns to Gordon and says:
“Maybe this is the end.”
“The end of what?”
Which I think is funny because at that point there was about half an hour left in The Batman.
Throughout this movie we are told that Batman is going around and beating up criminals to clean up Gotham and make things better, but things have only gotten worse since he started. Both Alfred and Bella Réal tell him at separate points in the movie that he needs to do more as Bruce Wayne. But once Riddler drags Thomas Wayne’s name through the mud, Bruce’s already tenuous connections that he could have used for good are all but severed. He barely has any of the family fortune left, and he’s spent his whole life watching those with money get corrupted by it. So he slowly realizes that “vengeance”(A term that comes up a lot in this) is not the way he can save this city. Him going around and just beating criminals to a pulp is only making people be more afraid. By the end of the movie he realizes that he has to turn the Batman into a symbol that his city can believe in. Something that can make them feel safe. He needs to use his scars to heal the city’s scars. And I just want to give Matt Reeves props for all of that, because that’s a really nice message.
If you haven’t seen it already, go see it. It’s very different from the other Batman movies, even if some beats may feel familiar. And it’s just an enjoyable movie, I think.
Overall Rating: 8/10(As I said above, I liked this movie a lot, and a good amount of the problems I had with it were solved when I watched it again. Except for Alfred. There should be more of him always.)
Rudd Rating: 0/10(Unfortunately I do have to give this movie a Rudd Rating of 0/10. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that no matter how good something is, it will always be better if Paul Rudd is there.)
And speaking of Paul Rudd, I should be putting a new Ruddtrospective up on Wednesday. Unless I get eaten by a crocodile tomorrow. In which case you will need to attend my funeral, which is where it will be read aloud, along with the second half of my Space Jam: A New Legacy review, beat poetry style. So unless that happens you should come back here on Wednesday and read that! Goodbye for now!