The Batman review: young, dumb, and soft-spoken boredom

Bruce Wayne has been so completely deconstructed and analyzed as a fictional hero and cultural icon that it would be almost unfair to expect Matt Reeves The Batman to bring everything new to the conversation. But that expectation is something that Warner Bros. The Batman implicitly asking viewers to ignore his other recent Bat-related movies for a bit and instead see this feature as the beginning of the franchise’s future. Unfortunately, the new Dark Knight doesn’t measure up.

Gotham is a rotting powder keg on the brink of total social collapse as The Batman opens with the city just a few years into Bruce Wayne’s (Robert Pattinson) career as the Dark Knight. As inexperienced as this new Batman is, he’s well past his days of just appearing in people’s imaginations as an urban myth. The Gothamites know there is a vigilante lurking among them, who hunts down and brutalizes criminals. But the sociopathic ferocity that defines his brand of “justice” naturally leaves many wondering if he himself is a monster.

Batman gazing at Gotham during one of the film’s many scenes when the sun is up.
Warner Bros.

Although Batman terrifies most police forces at the forefront of Gotham, he shares a difficult working relationship with James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), a GCPD lieutenant who constantly clashes with his colleagues over his use of the Bat- Signal and his willingness to invite the Dark Knight into ongoing investigations. As green as Gordon and this Batman are, they are also powerful due to their ability to strike fear into the heart of Gotham’s criminal element simply by shining a bright light in the sky. But while many of Gotham’s two-bit villains live in fear of the Bat-Signal, there are real up-and-coming villains like the Riddler (Paul Dano) who are drawn there like moths to a flame specifically because of the hero. heralds.

Before The Batman fully settles into its central game of cat and mouse, the film uses a few precious and legitimately disturbing moments to establish what a threat this dark take on the Riddler poses to Gotham’s elites like Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. (Rupert Penry -Jones). The degree to which The Batman‘s Riddler is inspired by the zodiac killer can’t be overstated, but the movie cleverly casts him as what home invasion nightmares love The foreigners and gory horror thrillers like Seen are made in. It’s still too late for the Riddler’s final victims by the time GCPD appears. And with every coded clue he leaves behind for Batman, it becomes increasingly clear that he’s building something far greater than any of Gotham’s landed gentry.

As the premises of the Batman films disappear, The Batmanis pretty solid on paper and will sound familiar to fans of writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli. Batman: Year One arc of 1987. But unlike First yearwhich used the intertwining origin stories of Gordon and Batman to illustrate the dark sides of Gotham’s identity to powerful effect, The BatmanThe manipulation of the two characters often errs more towards unintended comedy and a narrative thread that generally detracts from the film.

Batman, Jim Gordon and several Gotham cops are about to brawl.

Gordon trying to defend Batman against a group of his fellow cops.
Warner Bros.

The BatmanThe plot of is already busy enough with its hunt for a serial killer, its exploration of systemic corruption in the police, and the time it spends trying to flesh out its vision of Bruce Wayne: an antisocial insomniac and a recluse whose the film strongly suggests that he might have some form of autism. Corn The BatmanThe plot of becomes further complicated by the presence of crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), his henchmen Oswald Cobblepot (Colin Farrell) and their colleague Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), who divides her time between working in a local club as a waitress and robs blind people as a masked thief who never gets the cool villain alias she clearly deserves.

Corn The Batman features Falcone, the Penguin and Selina as a way to add depth and nuance to its story, each of their arcs has a way of derailing the film to varying degrees due to the inelegant way it tries to weave them all together. Each of the The BatmanThe villains of are connected in such a way that they become clearer as you progress through the film. But since it takes a long time for their bonds to become crucial to the story, there are long stretches where it feels like the characters just cease to exist until the script remembers that they are somewhere.

For each of The BatmanThe good ideas of – like focusing on Batman and Gordon bonding over their shared penchant for detective work – there are at least two things that hold it back. These include the fact that none of the Riddler’s puzzles here are all that complicated, or that Pattinson and Wright don’t have much on-screen chemistry. In The Batmanthe defense, the movie Is I want you to understand how deeply alone Bruce Wayne is and how difficult it is for him to relate to other people. the odd energy between him and Gordon may be a director’s choice. But even in Bruce’s most vulnerable moments with longtime Wayne family butler Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), there’s an emotional inertia that feels intentional, but ultimately unsatisfying, given the intimacy the characters share. traditionally.

Things get slightly more interesting when Selina is in the picture. It’s because of the way The Batman allows himself to enjoy a bit of whimsy that always feels just out of Batman’s reach, especially in the many scenes where he’s just standing there, brooding silently while staring off into nothingness. However, whenever the movie starts to get fun, it cuts it short, almost as if to remind you that this was supposed to be Gotham before costumed psychopaths regularly walked around. It’s also, one imagines, why there are so many scenes where Bruce…isn’t particularly good at being Batman yet. It’s an interesting idea to see at first, but becomes later in the film as the stakes rise and his skill becomes a matter of life and death for more and more people.

Selina Kyle and Batman on top of a skyscraper disagree on how to deal with criminals.

Selina Kyle and Batman look at each other for the weirdos that they both are.
Warner Bros.

Compared to previous movie versions of Batman, this Dark Knight is more of a brawler who makes up for his lack of experience with his ability to roll with punches. But after the first few instances of seeing Batman getting beaten up in the light of day, it’s hard not to interpret the movie’s multiple mentions of “revenge” as hints at Batman’s desire for revenge on any petty criminals who manage to get licked. , rather than its greater existential mission. Whatever the goodwill The Batman wins by avoiding fully explaining, once again, how Bruce’s parents were murdered is somewhat marred by the extent to which they loom in the background of this story, which takes place roughly 20 years after their death.

What is most likely to surprise audiences, and perhaps spark criticism, are the decisions that have been made regarding the sound of Pattinson’s Batman: a man who growls in a soft voice and hard to imagine that villains get scared. When it’s not much more southern than you might think with the accent of a Gotham native, which is interesting about this Batman’s voice – and really a big part of Pattinson’s performance – it is that it doesn’t feel “bad” for Batman per se, but rather doesn’t feel good for Bruce Wayne. There’s something about the idea of ​​a moody, introverted Batman whose access to wealth makes him feel disconnected from the very city he swears he wants to defend. But this incarnation of the character puts so little effort into trying to maintain the appearance of a double life that you wonder how no one ever figured out who he is.

This kind of flimsy world-building and the notable thematic similarities of this film ends up reporting to 2019 by Todd Phillips Joker are a big part of what makes The Batman feeling like one of the lesser, substantively important entries in the grand Batman cinematic canon. It’s a perfectly passable throwback to Gotham with a stunning car in tow – but it’s not the absolute jolt of the system that the beleaguered Bat-movie franchise needs.

The Batman also stars Barry Keoghan, Peter Sarsgaard, Jay Lycurgo and Jayme Lawson. The film hits theaters on March 4.


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