By Jack Deegan
After years of anticipation and delays, the newest Batman movie aptly titled “The Batman,” written and directed by Matt Reeves, is finally here. I was lucky enough to see an early fan screening before it exclusively hits theaters on March 4, and I am so glad that I did because this movie is a masterpiece from start to finish.
The film follows Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) two years into his crusade as Batman. When a serial killer calling himself The Riddler (Paul Dano) starts to leave behind a trail of cryptic clues, Batman is forced to venture into Gotham’s underworld making new allies and enemies as he races to solve the mystery and stop him.
“The Batman” is a three-hour-long movie, but it’s paced so well that it flies by and it feels like two hours. While there have been countless Batman movies before this, this one is the first that actually shows why Batman is the “world’s greatest detective” and embraces the noir detective aspect of the character. It’s refreshing to finally see this shown on screen, and it gives way to not only a Batman movie like no other but one of the most unique superhero films ever. We see Batman solving this mystery one step at a time following a track with twists and turns that I never had expected. The film’s dark tone with themes about fear and vengeance are handled masterfully, and with some horror elements thrown in there, it makes for an unforgettable experience.
Pattinson is without a doubt my favorite actor to play Batman ever, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. He plays the character with such complexity and with so many layers. One of the more interesting aspects of it all is that he’s able to say so much without saying anything at all. Batman is very quiet in this movie and Pattison is able to convey an impressive amount of emotion with just his body language and a single glance. When he isn’t Batman and is forced to live as Bruce Wayne, he gives a tortured performance of the billionaire in a way that hasn’t been done before.
Reeves truly understands the character of Batman more than anyone else has, and gives the de facto adaptation of him. Batman is shown to be a symbol of fear throughout the film, lurking in the shadows delivering his version of vengeance throughout the corrupt crime-ridden city of Gotham. His gadgets are all used in inventive ways that make sense in this world, with one, in particular, that is brand new and a welcomed addition to his arsenal that makes so much sense. He has an intimidating presence on screen too, shot in a way that makes him look imposing and frightening. Often we’ll hear his heavy boots walking into the frame before we can see him, which perfectly builds suspense for his appearance.
The all-star ensemble cast is used perfectly with each member bringing something special to their characters that hasn’t been done in other iterations. Zoë Kravitz delivered a scene-stealing performance as Catwoman. She was compelling to watch and played an important and surprising role in the movie — she is definitely my favorite actress to play the character, and I hope that somehow we see her again. Paul Dano’s Riddler is everything I wanted and more. He’s a chilling presence and the perfect villain for this movie. The character was very much inspired by the real-life Zodiac killer, and it gives us an interesting take on the character. He has those sociopathic tendencies played masterfully by Dano, but still perfectly encapsulates the essence of the Riddler. His version deserves to be talked about as one of the all-time great villains.
The action in “The Batman” is very satisfying to watch. Every fight is shot with long takes so we can see every punch land. They don’t shy away from showing the brutal violence that comes from Batman’s justice. There’s one scene in particular where he just mows through a group of people, and we watch it all play out in a wide shot at first to see everything happen. The actual choreography itself is done extraordinarily well and has Batman moving and fighting in ways we haven’t seen before, and it makes for some must-see combat. There’s one scene in particular, a car chase with the Batmobile, that is not only shot beautifully, but it has some really inventive car action that had me on the edge of my seat.
The entire film is shot in the most gorgeous way possible. Despite being three hours long, every frame is important to the story that’s being told and is carefully shot to look as beautiful as possible. “The Batman” is by far the best-looking comic book movie ever, but also one of the best-looking movies of the last decade. Even down to the set design, everything looks wonderfully gothic and modern. There were many choices put into making the world of Gotham feel alive and like a real city. They didn’t just use a city like Chicago as a stand-in, everything in the city from the streets to Wayne Manor was designed in a unique techno-gothic style. All of this is only elevated by Michael Giacchino's stunning score. Each character has their own theme that melodically summarizes each character in their own unique way. It’s a beautiful score on top of an already beautiful looking movie.
“The Batman” is a masterpiece of a movie that perfectly understands its central character and the world he’s in. It looks and sounds perfect with incredible performances that reimagine these iconic characters in new and exciting ways. Taking Batman back to his detective routes was the best possible move, and following that detective story makes for one of the most exciting and beautiful superhero films ever.