Movies Reviews

‘The Batman’ glides onto the big screen in a grittier Gotham

From "The Batman" verified Facebook page.

Auburn, Maine, U.S.A. – Much anticipated, The Batman, is finally premiering in cinemas worldwide this month after suffering multiple pandemic-related setbacks and postponements.

Robert Pattinson, of Twilight fame, accepts the challenge of portraying the titular caped crusader, following in the footsteps of Christian Bale and Ben Affleck, who played the past two incarnations of the famous vigilante.

The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, seeks to step back from the world-ending, intergalactic battles present in Affleck’s films and return the beloved comic character to his detective roots in the crumbling streets of Gotham.

Joanna Koter/YJI

Much more akin to DC’s Joker than Batman v Superman or The Dark Knight Rises, Reeves focuses on a city plagued by crime and corruption, falling apart with little in the way of hope.

The Batman himself is feared by petty criminals and civilians alike and has little in the way of trusted confidantes, save for his family butler Alfred (Andy Serkis, Lord of the Rings) and his police connection Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright, The French Dispatch).

Pattinson’s performance is credible, bringing more nuance to the role than Ben Affleck ever could, but fails at times to deliver the screen presence that is now associated with Batman.

The plot of the film follows a spate of gruesome murders being committed by the mysterious Riddler, who leaves behind clues for Pattison’s Batman at each crime scene.

Paul Dano’s Riddler is a highlight of the film, illustrating that not every Batman rebootimmediately requires the Joker as the primary antagonist to be a success.

Another standout in the film is Zoë Kravitz (Divergent, Mad Max: Fury Road), who takes on the role of Catwoman, Batman’s on-again, off-again companion. Kravitz coaxes out heartfelt moments with Pattinson, who is otherwise written to spend more time glowering menacingly and punching thugs than exploring emotional complexities.

Kravitz had previously auditioned for a role in The Dark Knight Rises, but was told she was too “urban,” as she revealed in an interview with The Guardian. This time around however, she brings a more in-depth look at Catwoman beyond being a simple jewellery thief and brief romantic interest.

The film is a staggering three hours long, following an ongoing trend in Hollywood to make you desperately hold in your pee a little longer.

The long runtime gives the movie time to breathe and not rush through important scenes, but it also drags in certain places and The Batman could afford to lose about 30 minutes of its screentime without any significant impact on the plot.

With two sequels already planned, it is clear that in The Batman, Reeves is laying groundwork for the future. The film examines Batman’s struggles to understand what his role truly is and if he is even helping at all – far from the self-assured vigilante we see in the other movies.

Pattinson and Kravitz are a younger and grittier duo, with arguably much more on-screen chemistry than seen between Bale’s Batman and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises.

Combined with the creation of a suddenly chaotic and volatile criminal underworld and the teasing of fan-favorite antagonists, it appears that Reeves’s vision of Batman has the potential to fly – or glide – further than its predecessors.

Owen Ferguson is an Associate Editor with Youth Journalism International.

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