The Batman may just be the best film of 2022 so far. Everything, from the directing to the editing, screams AMAZING. Matt Reeves has created a masterpiece. Yes, masterpiece. Robert Pattinson has created an all-new Batman that will surely be commonly placed in the #2 slot for actors to ever play the role. The only thing stopping it from being #1? Christian Bale. Bale has had the luxury of a full trilogy, while Pattinson has just debuted. He’ll likely get the trilogy treatment, but for now, we’re stuck with one film.
What’s good about the film? You name it. I loved this film on a cascade of levels, especially Michael Giacchino’s heart-shattering score. The score can go so high, and then so low in a matter of seconds. The craftsmanship that has gone into this film is visible no matter how you watch it, and you can see the heart that Reeves was fueled by when he directed the film. Now, what’s bad about the film? Thankfully, not much. At times, the film’s 2 hour and 56 minute runtime can get to you, but as soon as you start getting bored, the film will just pull you back in. The only other complaint I might have is that we’re exploring Batman a lot, but not Bruce Wayne. You’ll see what I mean.
Let’s start with the fact that Matt Reeves is a genius. His directing craft is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and is just genius. The darkness that he brings to The Batman, the terror. It instilled terror in me from the opening credits to the closing question mark. The power that Reeves has instilled the Riddler with in the film just with one shot is scary, because it shows that he can change the outlook of Gotham with ONE SHOT.
You’re asking, which shot? The opening shot. The shot where we see the mayor of Gotham talking, and the Riddler silently looking at him, unseen. That specific shot choice is perfect because it sets the mood for the film. If Reeves had instead chose to open with a shot from the Riddler’s perspective, it wouldn’t have been as shocking. Instead, he chose to open with a bang, or in this case, a scare.
More important than the plot, is the story. The story in this case is a tale of a broken billionaire, that chooses to turn to fighting crime, in order to avenge his parents’ death. How does it work with the Bat and the Cat involved? I don’t know. I really don’t. But it does, and it’s all that matters. The movie doesn’t act like a traditional superhero film. Instead, it’s a detective noir with a side of horror and superhero elements. And it’s all the better for it.
The thing that makes this film special is the way it’s done, and the uniqueness of it. The Dark Knight trilogy was done in a sense of pure horror. Shaped like a superhero thriller, the film had acts of suspense in it. However, this new trilogy from Matt Reeves is purely mystery. It’s scripted exactly like a mystery noir should be, modified slightly to incorporate Kravitz. It’s exactly like a detective film should be. The protagonist is Batman, the crime boss is Falcone. The police liason is Gordon, and the “real” villain is the Riddler.
Here’s the point where I praise Paul Dano, Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Colin Farrell, and John Turturro for masterful acting. Oh, don’t worry, I’m still going to do it. But first, a moment of remembrance for Heath Ledger. He portrayed the Joker will such terror and poise, and will likely be the greatest to ever do it (no offense Barry Keoghan).
Now, let’s praise Paul Dano. Amazing actor. Long career ahead of it, creepy as hell when playing the Riddler. Does a certain conversation with the clown of Arkham foreshadow his return? Probably, but for now, we get 3 hours of Dano goodness. My other acting highlight is Jeffrey Wright. His portrayal of Jim Gordon was unrivaled, and I can’t wait to see him in the GCPD HBO Max series.
You know, the score from Michael Giacchino is great. Matter of fact, I’m listening to it as I write this review to set the mood. Giacchino has done Doctor Strange, he’s done Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but this is his best score yet. Giacchino has set the bar for superhero soundtracks going forward, and has created a compelling theme for Robert Pattinson’s Batman. I’m in awe of his talents, and would love to see another score from him soon.
Bruce Wayne or Batman?
Bruce Wayne or Batman? That’s the essential question. From the introduction of this character, all we’ve really seen is Batman. We haven’t had time to spend with Bruce Wayne, and it’s for the worse. The character of Batman has been explored in countless films and TV series, but rarely have we seen Bruce Wayne.
Wayne was first deeply explored in The Dark Knight trilogy, and since then, I’ve wanted more and more of that. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ve reverted back to Batman only, and I pray that in the second film, we’ll see Wayne more. I want to see the in-depth emotional aspects of Wayne dealing with Alfred’s hospitalization. Who is Batman is under the mask? I want to explore Bruce Wayne.
The only other issue with this film is the runtime. It’s a minor one at that. Periodically throughout my screening, the film started to get long. Not boring, but long. And it was disappointing, because I thoroughly enjoyed the film. If I wanted to show this film to a member of my family, it’d be hard to. When The Batman finally gets going, it GETS GOING. I just wish it didn’t take as long to do that. If they can fix the pacing issue though, I’d love to see the sequel be 3 hours.
Is The Batman an awards contender? If Joker is, why can’t this one be? I don’t necessarily think it’ll win Best Picture, but it could capture Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, and dare I say, Best Director? It’s early in the 2022 awards rotation, but you never know. I sincerely think it has a good shot at all of them. Even Best Leading Actor for Robert Pattinson could happen.
The Batman is a dystopian, dark, scary noir start to the franchise, but it’s good. Very good. It tells the tale of a city under siege, and its masked vigilante coming to try and save it. The stakes are unquestionably high, same with the death toll. The cast and crew come together to make something remarkable, something that will be remembered for years to come. If you haven’t made plans to see the film, make them. The Batman is only in theaters March 4.
Overall Grade: A+