“The Batman” offers an enjoyably dark detective flick that runs a little too long.
By: Adam Beam
It’s crazy to think that the last time Batman had his own solo adventure on the big screen was “The Dark Knight Rises” all the way back in 2012 (unless you count “The Lego Batman Movie” in 2017). Even though we’ve had several iterations of the character since then, we haven’t gotten a full on Batman story. It’s ironic because this year is bringing three live action Batmen to theaters. Affleck and Keaton will both be appearing in “The Flash” later this year, but kicking things off is first time Cape Crusader, Robert Pattinson, in Matt Reeves’ “The Batman”.
Set in Batman’s second year of crime fighting, the Dark Knight is still struggling with the role as Gotham’s protector. Even with allies like Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) of the GCPD on his side, Bruce begins to wonder if his city is worth saving. This is only made more difficult when a deranged serial killer calling himself The Riddler (Paul Dano) begins to pick off some of Gotham’s most powerful figures. As Batman attempts to solve the madman’s game, he crosses paths with Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman and an unrecognizable Colin Farrell as The Penguin.
Right off the bat (pun intended), Pattinson might be the best live-action Batman to date. While I’ll always have nostalgia for Keaton in the role, and Conroy will forever be the definitive voice of Batman, Pattinson perfectly captures the character. From his first scene, Pattinson is able to convey so much about his character without saying a line. He’s also helped out by a phenomenal ensemble cast. The chemistry between him and Kravitz leaps off the screen and feels right out of something like “Batman: Hush”. Colin Farrell truly blew me away with his performance. When I say he’s unrecognizable, I mean that I had to keep reminding myself that that was him. Jeffery Wright surprisingly gets some of the funnier lines in the movie and I hope that he’s a central player in the GCPD spinoff later down the line.
Another standout element of the film is Michael Giacchino’s haunting score. It’s no Elfman score, but Giacchino’s music was perfect for this interaction of Batman. The score knows when to be grand and epic, but also knows when to be quiet and forbidding like the hero it’s meant for. The music also helps elevate some great action sequences. The fight scenes and car chases are insanely well shot and at times feel like they’re ripped straight from the “Arkham” series.
Now with all this praise you might be thinking this has to be the best Batman movie ever, and I know a lot of people would agree with that statement, but there are some elements that really hold the film back from that status. The biggest thing working against the film is its runtime. At just under 3 hours, it’s impressive that you don’t really feel the runtime while you’re watching. However, there’s a point towards the third act where you think the movie is wrapping up, and if it did end there, it would’ve been great, but then you realize there’s still another 40 minutes in the movie. While these last 40 minutes still have some great action, it just feels out of place to have a mostly CGI heavy finale when the movie has been mostly down to earth.
I also won’t spoil anything, but there was a scene at the very end that’s meant to be a set up for some future sequel, and it had me groaning in the theater. For a film that felt so self contained, this scene felt needlessly tacked on.
The third act might hurt some of the movie’s good graces, but the good stuff in this movie is really good. In fact, some of the stuff in this movie like Pattinson and the action, are some of the best Batman content period. The movie is sure to be a great time for Batman fans and I look forward to seeing where this version of the character goes from here.