The Batman review: Do we finally have a Batman film better than The Dark Knight?
Robert Pattinson becomes the latest actor to assume the mantle of Batman in the Matt Reeves directed flick.
For years, Batman aficionados have called for a Batman film that truly epitomises the Caped Crusader and offers a more comic book representative live-action take on the iconic character. And now, after a myriad of different iterations across three decades, fans finally have a Batman film that closely resembles the best parts of the Dark Knight found in some of the greatest Batman stories ever told.
Granted, fans have certainly been treated to some phenomenal Batman stories in the past with Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight being heralded as one of the greatest comic book films ever made (and rightly so), and Michael Keaton's turn as Gotham City's protector being widely considered the best Batman portrayal up to this point, never has there been a more accurate depiction of the character, at least from a live-action perspective, as is found in Matt Reeves' The Batman.
The film, which clocks in at a staggering 2 hours and 55 minutes, immediately cements itself among the great comic book films of the last two decades, telling a story that masterfully draws inspiration from several classic Batman tales, including Jeph Loeb's The Long Halloween, Frank Miller's Year One, and Scott Snyder's Zero Year, while still carving out its own very distinct identity to separate itself from previous takes on the character. Reeves also draws inspiration from the real life Zodiac killer, which is overtly detectable in Paul Dano's fantastically layered antagonist, the Riddler.
The Batman also features a more nuanced and intricate depiction of the Dark Knight, which helps to ensure Pattinson's Batman isn't so easily overshadowed by the film's villain as has been the case in the past with antecedent iterations of the character, as was seen with Christian Bale' Batman in 2008's The Dark Knight. Pattinson assumes the role with great precision, delivering a worthy performance as a troubled Bruce Wayne and a relatively inexperienced Batman still trying to find his feet. By the The Batman's conclusion, Pattinson has firmly established himself as the Batman with a more accurate and comic book representative portrayal of the character than has ever been seen before.
Zoe Kravitz more than acquits herself well with a welcome portrayal of a tormented Selena Kyle that is as layered as it is convincing. Kravitz's show-stealing performance is not only the best live-action rendering of Catwoman thus far, but also one of the The Batman's most notable highlights. Similarly, Paul Dano offers an incredibly memorable performance as the Batman's adversary, the Riddler, further solidifying his status as one of the very best actors in the profession today and stamping his own signature on the familiar Batman villain. Jeffery Wright is fine as Gotham P.D's Jim Gordon, as is as is Andy Serkis as Alfred, though both seem to suffer at times from having to deliver some rather contrived or exposition-heavy dialogue.
The set design is splendid, featuring a more convincing and comic book accurate Gotham City than has previously been seen in a live-action Batman flick. The city landscape fits right in with some of the best illustrations of Gotham found in comics like Frank Miller's aforementioned Year One, and invites audiences into a Gotham that is more in-line with the world the Batman character inhabits than it is with the director's unique (and oft times misguided) vision. Reeves also makes some welcome changes to Pattinson's Bat Suit, presenting a militarised version of the Batman's iconic wear, which appears combat appropriate and features several unique hallmarks that help set it apart from other realistic depictions of the Bat Suit such as that found in Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.
Similarly, the Batmobile is easily the best version of the Caped Crusader's favoured vehicle since Tim Burton's take in the 90s, and, in this instance at least, exemplifies that less is indeed more (Batman driving a tank around Gotham City never did feel quite right, did it?) with director Matt Reeves opting for a simpler yet far more aesthetically pleasing version of the iconic vehicle. Batman's gadgets look great and appear functionally proportionate, and though, admittedly, somewhat limited in variety, Pattinson's Batman enjoys the most believable equipment and weapons arsenal in recent memory.
Otherwise impressive is the The Batman's great level of attention to detail, often demonstrated through nuanced characterisation and depictions of Gotham's criminal underbelly. At times, The Batman concerns itself with even the minutiae of Bruce Wayne's metamorphosis from secluded billionaire to Caped Crusader and Gotham City's self-appointed protector. There is something to be said about observing Pattinson's Batman pull the cowl over his head to reveal messy hair and smudged kohl beneath his eyes - an edgier appearance that provides a more intimate look at the grief-stricken hero.
All in all, The Batman is undoubtedly the best live-action take on the Batman character to date, and, while the film itself doesn't quite reach the lofty heights of Christopher Nolan's 2008 masterpiece The Dark Knight, Matt Reeves gives DC fans a lot to be optimistic about for the Caped Crusader's future.
About the Creator
Spoken word artist, screenwriter, writer, aspiring filmmaker and visionary from south London! Founder of poetry-based company Just Rhyme; list writer for Comic Book Resources on all things anime.
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