And so, as sure as night turns into day, we inevitably get yet another version of The Bat. It would appear that we are forever destined to be on an eternal loop of Batman movies, probably in trilogy form, closely followed by Spider-Man.
This one is written by Matt Reeves (“War for the Planet of the Apes”, “Let Me In”), who also directs, and Peter Craig (“Bad Boys for Life”, “The Town”) and has Robert Pattinson (“Tenet”, “Good Time”) as the titular Batman.
Reeves follows in the footsteps of Christopher Nolan in bringing us a dark and dingy Batman and takes it a few steps further. There’s less gadgets, things feel a bit more raw, this could almost be a prequel, but it isn’t.
What it is is long, very long. It comes in at just under three hours and whilst I’d love to say you don’t feel like it’s three hours long I can’t, because you will. Reeves says he’s gone for a more noir, detective story for his The Batman and that you can see.
However, because of this, there are times, weirdly usually at each hour mark, where the movie slows to a snail’s pace and the juxtaposition of this with the crime-fighting action we get on either side, makes those moments even more noticeable.
But wait, there’s more! Not only do we get the Bat, we also get the Cat, in terms of Selina Kyle / Catwoman, Zoë Kravitz (“Kimi”, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”), plus we get not one but two bad-guys in the form of The Penguin, an unrecognisable Colin Farrell (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”, “Artemis Fowl”), and The Riddler, Paul Dano (“Okja”, “Swiss Army Man”).
You may think this is a bargain, however there are times in the movie when the Cat seems to go walkabout, maybe she’s preening, whilst The Penguin is so under used as to be kind pointless him being there other than to prep us for the inevitable follow-up or spin-off.
The real villain of the piece is Dano, but he spends the majority of the movie behind a mask which is a shame as when he takes it off and talks to the Bat mano a mano it’s an amazing performance, some of which is lost behind his gimp mask.
We obviously have us a Gordon, Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld (TV)”, “No Time to Die”), an Alfred, Andy Serkis (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”, “War for the Planet of the Apes”), and another bad guy Carmine Falcone, John Turturro (“Severance (TV)”, “Transformers: The Last Knight”), who is the kingpin of the whole city.
The task for the Bat is that he must figure out The Riddler’s riddles along with who he can trust and who he can’t. The Riddler is hell-bent on exposing those dirty, rotten crooks in the city, no matter who they are, the bigger the name, the better.
At some point, this will mean Bruce Wayne having to take a long hard look at himself and what he’s done with his life, along with his family history.
Reeves has given his Bat a much more steely focus on the cape crusading side of things, there’s no Bruce Wayne playboy mansion here. He shuns the limelight, or any kind of light, he could almost be a vampire…wait.
If all this sounds like I’m being down on The Batman, well, maybe I am. I’ve lived through countless versions of Batman in my lifetime and I struggle to see what this version has brought over any of its predecessors.
Sure, it looks great, Pattinson, Kravitz, Danno, Wright all perform wonderfully well, but is it really that different from Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy? Go back even further to the 1989 Tim Burton Batman and are we a million miles away here? Personally, I feel like Reeves has gone in between the two.
Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing, both are great incarnations of the Bat so why wouldn’t you borrow from them?
When the inevitable sequel comes round it will be interesting to see if they stick with the choice of additional bad-guy we get a sneak peek at towards the end. I could see those two making for an interesting duo.
4th March 2022
THE QUICK SELL
When the Riddler, a sadistic serial killer, begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city's hidden corruption and question his family's involvement.