Matt Reeves, The Batman is The Film We Deserve
The Batman (2022) [FULL SPOILER] review
The Batman (2022) is the latest in the canon of Batman films. Matt Reeves’ interpretation of the character and the myth that surrounds him is, in my opinion, the best ever put into a live-action film. With Robert Pattinson the latest to take up the cowl, Paul Dano as the Riddler and Zoe Kravitz the feline-loving Selina Kyle.
A Serial Killer calling himself, The Riddler kills Gotham City Mayor. Batman is tasked with uncovering the corruption that’s at the heart of Gotham. Bruce Wayne, now in his second year of vigilante crime-fighting has to follow riddles and cyphers from the killer. With his unofficial partner, Lieutenant James Gordan. The murder victims have versus ties to the mob and have all been working for the Falcone Crime Syndicate. Batman meets and enlists the help of, part-time waitress, and thief, Selina Kyle. Riddlers' messages point toward a conspiracy in the GCPD and city government, they are protecting a confidential informant “rat” that helped in a historic drug bust. Batman and Gordan discover the bust didn’t stop anything and the operation was taken over by the “Penguin”, the right-hand to Carmine Falcone. After a high-speed chase with the Penguin he reveals to Batman and Gordan that he is not the rat. The Riddler sends a bomb to Wayne Tower puting Alfred in the Hospital, also revealing secrets about Bruce’s late parents and the shady past of the Wayne and Arckam families. With the help of Selina, Batman discovered Carmine Falcone is the rat. He has been using a charitable fund set up by Tomas Wayne to pay off the GCPD and City officials. Gordon rounds up the cops in the GCPD, not on the mob's payroll to arrest Falcone. When Batman brings him out of the club, he is shot by the Riddler. After the Riddler is arrested and in custody at Arkam Asylum he reveals to Batman that his plan is not yet over. After it is too late to stop it, Batman discovers the riddler plans to flood the city. The seawalls have been broken. Batman goes to the shelter that has been set up and saves the newly elected Mayor from the Riddler's followers. In the Aftermath the city is still flooded, Batman helps recovery efforts and vows to do better for the City of Gotham.
Batman as a character is one of my all-time favourites, Gotham and the extended Bat-family are -in my opinion- some of the best stories ever told. And so far I haven’t truly loved any live-action adaptations of the character, until now. The Batman (2022), is the first Batman film that truly feels like reading a comic, loosely inspired by Batman: The Long Halloween (1997) and Batman: Year one (1988). The same chills went up my spine watching this film as they did when reading those comics.
Firstly the direction by Matt Reeves is truly sensational, the dark gothic tones are consistent throughout, without seeming too over the top or there just for the sake of it, this all serves the plot. The characterisation of all the characters is true to the original while still bringing something new to the story. Specifically, Bruce Wayne and Batman, Robert Pattinson does an amazing job as both. The voiceover of his introductory scene declaring “I am the shadows” sent chills through my spine. The same scene describes how Batman uses fear as a “tool”, evidence the film truly understands the Batman mythos. The same can be said for James Gordan, not yet a commissioner there are illusions of him taking charge when he has to, Jeffrey Wright’s depiction of the lone good cop at the Gotham City Police Department is one of many highlights of the film. Also, the relationship between Batman and Gordan is a prominent part of the film, something that has been important in the comics for decades. Something that I was more than pleased to see was Batman actually doing detective work, we see him deciphering clues with Alfred and being invited to crime scenes by Gordan. The film has Colin Farrell disappearing into the Penguin, I still have to remind myself it’s actually him. Even taking away the drastic transformation of the actor the character and performance give levity to the otherwise sombre personalities, all while still keeping with the tone of the film. Zoe Kravitz's performance as Selina Kyle an early Catwoman, is beautiful and alluring without being gratuitous with its sexualisation of her, the chemistry she has with Pattinson's Batman is palpable in all their shared scenes. Paul Dano gives an intense performance as the Riddler, making one of Batman's more whimsical rogues truly terrifying.
Something that I think is important in the Batman mythos is the city of Gotham, forgive me for the cliche but the city is a character in itself, with large amounts of personality. This film hits the nail on the head with its depiction of Gotham, using Glasgow, Liverpool, parts of London and Chicago as the streets of Gotham. This has created an older gothic sense to the city, a semi-otherworldly, ancient, brokenness. The audience can feel the corruption just by viewing the city. Wayne Tower is a large gothic ornate bird's nest and somehow it works exextraordinarily well for the character of Bruce, not feeling out of place one bit.
The Director of Photography, Greig Fraser, known for the recent Dune adaptation and Zero Dark Thirty (2012). His work on this film brings all these aspects together, the architecture, the writing, the acting and characterisation. He uses occasional orange light from sunsets, sunrises and fires and muted colours to create a beautiful look that feels as though it will become a modern classic.
The only worry I have for viewers of this film is that it is might not be as enjoyable to someone that is not as invested in the extended batman universe. I like to think the fan-boy part of my brain can be turned off, the part that’s happy to get a gothic Batman that actually does detective work. Though after three viewings at cinemas in the opening week, I feel I’m safe in my opinion; that the film is well worth the hype and is the best Batman film of any generation, reflecting and respecting the most loved comics.
About the author
Character and world-building are the most important to me as a writer. Scripts are where my passion lies, though prose-fiction and editorial can also interest me. No matter what I want the reader to feel immersed.