Throughout the evolution of the Batman character, we’ve had incarnations in comics, television, film, and various other mediums. We’ve watched West, Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney, Bale, Affleck, and a host of others embody the essence of the caped crusader. Each of them fighting adversaries seemingly worthy of their (and our) attention. Now, it’s Robert Pattinson’s turn to convince audiences that he can save the day.
And it’s a wild ride to hell and back.
Our newest dark knight is a self-described “nocturnal animal,” narrating a story in ‘The Batman’ that drips of allegory and intrigue. Presented by director Matt Reeves as a neo-noir, we are quickly introduced to old friends James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), as well as possible adversaries like Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz), Oswald Cobblepot (Colin Farrell), and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro). This newest film version could have fallen into tired tropes and, with a running time of nearly three hours, easily relied on fandom to carry it over the finish line. But Reeves has more up his sleeves when it comes to investing in an interesting story. This comes in the form of The Riddler, masterfully played by Paul Dano.
The Riddler is a sadistic killer who targets Gotham’s powerful figures using puzzles and manipulation. He does this from a distance, bringing Batman into the mix by devising clues that he must solve in order to save the day. It’s this version of The Riddler that makes one’s skin crawl, and leaves very little room for error. The Riddler is played not only as a supervillain, but also as a device to keep the story moving. Every clue that Batman tries to solve uncovers more truths of the past that continue to haunt the characters of the present. We are left to question who is really villainous, and who is impersonating the role of a hero all along.
It is clear that Reeves was heavily influenced by detective fiction to craft a very dark and stormy plot. Reeves’ version is more moody than Nolan’s, more emo than Burton’s, less cartoonish than Schumacher’s, and possibly influenced by David Fincher. I couldn’t help but think about some of Fincher’s films (‘Seven’, ‘Zodiac’, ‘Gone Girl’) where a tortured main character is tasked to solve riddles, created by a worthy opponent, in a race against time. It’s an incredibly effective subgenre for a Batman film, and everyone involved plays an integral role in making this film a success.
With an incredible score by Michael Giacchino, and a backdrop of Nirvana songs to elevate the mood, ‘The Batman’ is a fantastic film. The acting and fighting sequences will keep audiences on the edge of their seats, while The Riddler’s codes will keep everyone guessing.
Ticket rating: 🎟🎟🎟🎟1/2