Director: Matt Reeves
Writer: Matt Reeves, Peter Craig
Based on: Bob Kane‘s and Bill Finger‘s comics character
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, John Turturro, Andy Serkis, Peter Sarsgaard, Barry Keoghan, Jayme Lawson, Gil Perez-Abraham
Seen on: 9.3.2022
[Here are my reviews of other Batman things.]
For the past two years, Batman (Robert Pattinson) has been a vigilante in Gotham City, one who divides opinions. On Halloween, he is called to a crime scene be Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright): the mayor was brutally murdered, and a riddle was left for Batman. When he takes up the trail, it leads him to a nightclub run by Oz (Colin Farrell) with ties to Carmine Falcone (John Turturro). And it leads him to Selina (Zoë Kravitz) who works as a waitress there and has her own investigation. As more people are murdered and more clues left, it becomes a race against time.
I really did not expect much of The Batman. Everything about it screamed that it would not be a good experience. But it is a Batman film, so I couldn’t resist. Anyhow, turns out that I was mistaken: The Batman is even worse than I thought it would be.
Usually, I will tell you that objectivity doesn’t exist, but really The Batman is an objectively bad film. It’s the kind of film where we stood outside the cinema afterwards for a while and kept discovering new details of suckery. At least we got a good laugh from those. But there are so many that it is really hard to begin describing them.
Maybe we should just begin with the really big problems: it starts with the fact that the film was basically shot in the dark and barely uses any color. It’s certainly ~an aesthetic~ but a) I would like to actually see the films I’m watching and b) it ties neatly into a bigger problem: the film ignores Bruce Wayne almost entirely. There is only the dark, brooding Batman – we don’t have time for any fun or levity in the film as Bruce Wayne usually brings. That is not only boring, it is also a fundamental misunderstanding of the character: Batman exists only due to Bruce Wayne’s trauma and privilege. To ignore this is to ignore what makes Batman Batman. And therefore, Batman here is a free-floating cardboard cut-out. They tried to fix this feeling of him being unmoored by throwing even more darkness and heaviness at him, but that’s not what missing (quite to the contrary).
Honestly, though, this is only one of the problems with the script that has a habit of knocking narrative doors open (some more interesting or novel than others) and then confidently strutting past them as if they didn’t exist, completely ignoring implications, effects or just plain possibilities. It leads to a script that is so messy, I am not even sure whether Falcone knows that Selina is his daughter, and that’s kind of a major characterization point for her. At least the film doesn’t leave us in much doubt about the quality of its script as the film opens with a noir-fitting voice over that ends with us literally seeing Bruce scribbling it into his diary. That was when I died for the first time during the film, but not the last.
Finally, the cast really isn’t very good. They have all done better in other films which makes me suspect that the direction just sucked. For some reason, Pattinson moves superslow all the time (no wonder the film is 3 hours long). Pattinson and Kravitz have zero chemistry with each other. Less than zero. Everybody else is underused. The only one who seems to have even the slightest amount of fun in the film is Farrell but since fun is not allowed here, he barely features [To be fair, there is one (1) actual joke in the film but I suspect they missed that one in editing]. Of course, it sucks that they put a thin actor into a fat suit yet again, and I would have loved a fat actor in the role, but considering everything else in the film, I was just glad that he gave us a little breather from the drudgery.
Overall, the film really feels like a step backwards from what superhero movies have become in recent years which was an overall step up in my book: they acknowledged the inherent ridicule of the premise, while also honoring the big themes and topics that they tackle. This film does neither.
Summarizing: so very bad.