Batman movies live and die with the writing, directing and, most importantly, the man inside the cowl. The latest offering from the DC Universe proves that point.
When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin, Carmine Falcone, and Edward Nashton/The Riddler. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.
Directed by Matt Reeves who shares writing credit with Peter Craig the film is inspired by the graphic novel The Long Halloween and Reeves continues the dark grimy vision of Gotham created by Christopher Nolan. The plot is outstanding, logical and complete, I don’t believe I am missing anything without reading the source material. I loved that all the villains were well-rounded with motivations that made sense and that this version of Batman wasn’t ‘perfect’, sometimes he doesn’t stick the landing. The mystery unfolded seamlessly and several scenes of the film were so good I was left sitting mouth wide open.
Now to the elephant in the room, Robert Pattinson as Batman. I was in the “I don’t know about this” camp when I heard he was cast shifted a little when the trailer dropped. Maybe I was jaded by his performance in the Twilight films. His years of doing smaller independent films suited him well in preparing for this role. Pattinson is outstanding as this version of Batman: a methodical detective and not just the crime-fighting vigilante. While Pattinson and Reeves successfully make Bruce Wayne and Batman clearly separate I was left wanting more of Bruce Wayne in his day to day and more of a difference between the physicality between the characters. He walked into every room with the same gait regardless of which character he was playing. Overall, he did a fantastic job in this role; I would watch him in another Batman film.
I cannot continue this review without shouting out the extraordinary performance Colin Farrell delivered as Penguin. I spent the entire film saying, “that’s Colin Farrell, no that’s not Colin Farrell.” He is unrecognizable in this role. The makeup, how he used his body, the voice. I was thoroughly impressed how he disappeared into this role and this performance should be remembered in the 2022 award season.
Zoë Kravitz is the best Catwoman we’ve had to date, strong, sexy and calculating. Her chemistry with Pattinson was okay, but it’s Zoë Kravitz, he would have to be a corpse to not have any type of chemistry with her. Paul Dano’s infused the exact amount of creepy in his performance as Riddler. Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, this role was written for him, we do not deserve him.
I walked out of the screening my first thought was, this is the best Batman film since The Dark Knight. As I’ve composed this review my mind has not changed. This film is almost perfect and even the flaws I noticed were minor and do not distract from the project as a whole. If DC’s intent is to have an extended universe of films, leave it in Matt Reeves’ hands. Do not hesitate in seeing this film when it releases in theaters on March 4, 2022.
Solid 4.5 bats out of 5
Thank you Allied Global Marketing for the tickets.