‘The Batman’ Review: Superhero Fare is Reimagined to Frighteningly Superb Results

Holy movie, Batman! The caped crusader has finally returned to the big screen with “The Batman” as a solo act after nearly a decade of forced franchise inclusion that ultimately resulted in failed partnerships between the greatest heroes that DC has to offer. But they are here to rectify that with a film that aspires to be much, much more than a classic superhero flick.

The film is headlined by an out-of-the-box performance by Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne. While many of the past actors tasked with playing one of film’s most iconic roles have normally stuck to the blueprint for the titular protagonist, Pattinson’s version of the lost soul is darker and more damaged. The character here is still deeply impacted by the loss of his parents and hasn’t grown into the full adult that Christian Bale or Michael Keaton’s versions of the character did.

The Batman Review
“The Batman”

The rest of the cast is not only stellar, but perfectly placed for the roles they were assigned. The casting for “The Batman” is better than any previous iteration, plain and simple. Colin Farrell embodies Penguin, Zoe Kravitz feels like Catwoman, Paul Dano has the face and awkwardness of The Riddler, and John Turturro is Carmine Falcone. Every piece to the puzzle here fits.

And yet, “The Batman” isn’t about any one of these characters at all. Penguin feels like an offshoot placed in the film just to build out the criminal underworld and The Riddler has an incredibly short screen-presence until the third act. The film is less a superhero film and more an epic, procedural crime drama. Much like 2019’s “Joker,” “The Batman” continues the legacy of grounded Batman films maintaining their presence in the mainstream film circles.

“The Batman” draws influences from every corner of the film landscape, but none could be more palpable than the David Fincher murder-mystery days. When the early criticisms leaked that this film felt more like “Se7en” or “Zodiac,” they weren’t messing around. The Riddler feels equal parts Zodiac killer, Jigsaw, and the Joker all wrapped into one trenchcoated sociopath.

The Batman Review: The casting for The Batman is better than any previous iteration, plain and simple.

The city of Gotham feels as damp and dreary as any portrayal of it has shown before. The underbelly of the crime world is at its final form as every crime lord schemes and backstabs their way into different deals and new political positions. The burnt-orange color palette is as inflicting and penetrating as I’ve seen in quite a long time for a film hoping to have the range that this one does. “The Batman” feels like it should be for everyone over the age of sixteen, but it is going to turn some people away for just how insular of a character portrait it is.

When “The Batman” works best, it’s when it focuses on these emotions. Robert Pattinson is giving his best emo-grunge performance possible. The dichotomy between him and The Riddler is fascinating, given that The Riddler seems to be more put together at times than the dark knight himself. Juxtaposing these characters, along with Catwoman and Commissioner Gordan, makes for successful and introspective results.

While the film has so many highlights, “The Batman” did slightly dip during its descent into the third act. As it’s been mentioned multiple times already, Batman is meant to transcend superhero films. Its realistic character structures and gritty settings make for films that can be enjoyed without a giant man that turns green or a god that wields a hammer. Batman, at its center, is about the thematic elements of good vs evil and right vs wrong. It doesn’t need CGI finales with thirty cameos. “The Batman” delivers a finale that gets closer to “Shang-Chi” and “Venom” than it does “The Dark Knight” and even “Joker.”

This slight misstep doesn’t take away from the almost-perfect first two hours. The film is perfectly cast and delivers a mystery large and revealing enough to warrant a second viewing. The trailers did give away quite a bit of the plot and action, but that won’t affect the rewatchability of it. “The Batman” deserves to be seen on the largest screen you can find, and I suggest you do it soon. There are some spots in here you do not want to have spoiled for you.

The villains deliver great performances across the board and there isn’t a single aspect that bogs it down. While the climactic third act doesn’t quite release the pressure that the first two built up, and the movie does drag after its conclusion, “The Batman” is sure to be one of the best superhero films of the year, and possibly one of the best films of the year period.