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The Batman Movie Review

The Batman (2022) movie poster The Batman

Theatrical Release: March 4, 2022

Running Time: 176 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Director: Matt Reeves

Writers: Matt Reeves, Peter Craig (screenplay);

Cast: Robert Pattinson (Bruce Wayne/Batman), ZoŽ Kravitz (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), Paul Dano (Edward Nashton/Riddler), Jeffrey Wright (James Gordon), John Turturro (Carmine Falcone), Peter Sarsgaard (District Attorney Gil Colson), Andy Serkis (Alfred Pennyworth), Colin Farrell (Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot/Penguin), Jayme Lawson (Bella ReŠl), Barry Keoghan (Joker)


Batman is for Warner Bros. Pictures what Spider-Man is for Sony. A comic book hero with a long, rich history
and the studioís greatest box office potential. If it doesnít turn out great, theyíll just give it a few years and then try again with a new leading man and a different filmmaker at the helm.

Warner got a thirteen-year head start on Spidey when it had Tim Burton bring the caped crusader of DC Comics and television to the big screen and ended up with the biggest blockbuster of 1989. That potent franchise fizzled out spectacularly in the late 1990s and then Christopher Nolan gradually redefined superhero cinema with his iconic Dark Knight trilogy from 2005 to 2012. Batmanís battles with Bane were fresh in mind when Nolan and star Christian Bale moved on and Warner announced Ben Affleck would assume the role.

On a rooftop in Gotham City, Batman (Robert Pattinson) places a firm grip on the arm of his morally ambiguous love interest Selina Kyle (ZoŽ Kravitz) in "The Batman" (2022).

But the post-Nolan 2010s were not kind to DC. Their sensible response to the unprecedented commercial powerhouse of Marvel Studios was a cinematic universe of their own. Despite some strong box office numbers and a group of vocal fans whose highlight of 2021 was to stream the fabled Snyder Cut of Justice League when it finally hit HBO Max, the DC Extended Universe never really came together like the studio hoped it would. Affleck, a fine filmmaker, fine actor, and fine Batman, never got a fair shot at the high profile cowl and scowl gig. As of now, his stint is best remembered for that viral interview of him looking sad and trying to navigate for years the rumors that he was soon ready to let a different actor take a stab at Bruce Wayne.

Now, less than five years after Joss Whedon's theatrical cut of Justice League disappointed and a year after originally scheduled, a new era for Gotham arrives in the form of The Batman, directed, co-written and co-produced by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson in the title role.

There is good reason to be hopeful for this latest incarnation, because Reeves has stealthily built an impressive filmography over the past fifteen years. After an inauspicious opening act in the Ď90s, in which he co-wrote Steven Seagalís Under Siege 2 and made the David Schwimmer vehicle The Pallbearer, Reeves reinvented himself on television as J.J. Abramsí ďFelicityĒ co-creator. Reeves followed Abrams to the big screen, directing the secretive 2008 found footage monster movie Cloverfield and proceeding to helm the second and third installments in the sterling recent Planet of the Apes trilogy. Those films deserved greater recognition and ticket sales than they received. The entire 2010s Apes trilogy improbably can withstand comparison to Nolanís Dark Knight triad in terms of general excellence. Reeves' two contributions certainly qualified him for the Batman job, for they proved he could breathe new life into a known film franchise that has run its natural course.

Robert Pattinson sports an unflattering hairstyle as the latest actor to portray Bruce Wayne, in "The Batman" (2022).

Unfortunately, there isnít much life to Reeves' The Batman, which has the unenviable task of having to win over a large and fickle fan base thatís rarely in unison. Although it spares us the umpteenth direct dramatization of the murder that orphaned young Bruce Wayne and planted the seeds of vigilantism inside him, it spares us of very little else, subjecting us to nearly three hours of relentless darkness and brooding.

Pattinson plays Bruce Wayne as a recluse with a hairstyle even less fashionable than Tobey Maguireís Spider-Man 3 emo cut. Itís a casting decision you would only question if youíve missed everything Pattinson has made
since the Twilight Saga concluded a decade ago. And yet the Pattinson who impressed the arthouse crowd in A24ís The Lighthouse and Good Time is nowhere to be found here. In this film, Reeves only asks the actor to brood and relay plot information.

In fact, Pattinson is merely the most focal of a troupe of talented actors assembled here to no avail. We also get Jeffrey Wright, riding high off his Online Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actor nomination for The French Dispatch, doing nothing to distinguish Jim Gordon, Batmanís ally within the Gotham Police Department. For reasons only he knows, Colin Farrell chooses to disappear in the transformative role of The Penguin, a secondary presence despite the Jared Leto in House of Gucci level of hair, makeup, and prosthetics commitment. Zoe Kravitz plays Selina Kyle, a Catwoman who doesnít easily clear the low bar set by Anne Hathaway and Halle Berry in the modern interpretations of the role. Kravitz gets to mention white privilege in one of the filmís cringey attempt to relate it to current events. Thereís also an enclave of fringe internet users that is supposed to evoke the Capitol insurrection, unfortunately. Thereís nothing inherently wrong with taking story ideas from the headlines. The Occupy undertones of The Dark Knight Rises drew no eyerolls from me. But Reeves and co-scribe Peter Craig appear to be grasping at straws as they look for an angle to distinguish this new era. Besides falling short of the real world relevance that Todd Phillips and Scott Silver hit upon in 2019ís Oscar-winning Joker, Reeves and Craig also fail to generate any fun or excitement to speak of.

Which makes The Batman kind of a chore and a drag. Once in a while it hits upon an interesting composition or concept like Batman attempting to fall with style and making a mess of it. More often itís relying on fights and car chases which are pale substitutes for the least inspired moments of Nolan and Snyderís Batfilms.

Reeves and company turn the filmís principal villain The Riddler (Paul Dano) into the Zodiac Killer, which is as tasteless as it sounds. At least Dano gets to act a little, which is hardly how we can categorize John Turturroís work as the gangster Carmine Falcons or Apes' heart and soul Andy Serkis as the new butler/confidante Alfred Pennyworth.

Ultimately, The Batman fails to make a strong impression, whether itís serving up heavy handed narration, unconvincing romance, or incongruous music video stylings. It never approaches the greatness of Nolanís stunning crime dramas but also never plunges to the depths of Snyderís infamous ďWhy did you say that name?Ē battle. Internet reactions may inevitably be extreme and hopes are high, but despite its epic runtime, the movie is oddly middling. On the heels of cultural landmarks like Joker and Spider-Man: No Way Home, a movie that doesnít swing for the fences or spark preemptive thinkpieces about inspiring copycat violence is bound to feel minor by comparison. Alas, there is no better way to describe The Batman.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Moonfall ē Death on the Nile ē Scream ē Spider-Man: No Way Home

Directed by Matt Reeves: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ē War for the Planet of the Apes ē Cloverfield
Robert Pattinson: The Lighthouse

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Reviewed February 28, 2022.

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