“The Batman” is the latest reboot of the classic DC franchise to hit the big screen. Starring new Batman Robert Patterson, this iteration sees the world’s greatest detective squaring off against a classic nemesis: the Riddler.
Pro – A Fresh Take
The character of Batman is not a simple hero to bring to the big screen. Any attempt to do so has to wrestle with the Batmen of the past, including a recent, criminally underrated, performance by Ben Affleck. It’s exciting then that “The Batman” is able to offer a unique perspective on the hero and his world. Set in an even darker Gotham City, “The Batman” has a futuristic, film noir film feel with its muted colors, gritty neon realism, and constant rain.
Patterson’s Batman is a young Batman, full of anger and vengeance. He’s a hero just learning his craft who prefers the bull in the china shop approach of youth compared to the master of preparation that audiences will be accustomed to. That lack of foresight combined with the character having yet to discover the usefulness of the Bruce Wayne “mask” might be off-putting to some, but it shouldn’t be. It’s a great exploration of Batman as a hero made, not just born.
Pro – Who done it
Another enjoyable aspect of the film is that it feels like a detective story. Audience members who do not read comics can be forgiven for not knowing Batman got his start in Detective Comics based on what they’ve seen on the screen. “The Batman” places the titular hero smack dab in the middle of a murder mystery as he looks to figure out who the Riddler is and where he’ll strike next.
This focus on story and characters means the supporting cast plays a big role in making the movie great. Pedantic debates aside, Zoe Kravitz is as good a Catwoman as anyone to play the role. Paul Dano is suitably terrifying as the Riddler, no small feat for a man unlikely to scare my four-year-old in real life. The scene stealer though is Colin Farrell’s Penguin whose make-up and acting are so good it truly begs the question if it’s even actually him playing the role in the film.
Con – Six
The first 80% of this film is absolutely amazing, but as is often the case with comic book films, it fails to stick the landing. Perhaps the biggest mistake is it seeks to crib one of the all-time great detective movies, “Seven.” Yet it does so without the enormous pay-off of the older film. It also feels the need to switch gears at the end and provide a superhero ending to a detective movie, and this comes off as jarring rather than exciting. To be clear, these aren’t major gaffs that ruin the film, but they do prevent this film from elevating the rarified air of the Nolen trilogy.
“The Batman” is a great film. The dark, realistic feel works for a young hero not yet sure of himself, his skills, or his mission. The cast is fantastic. The film looks and feels amazing. It’s also an incredible underrated motorcycle movie! Despite some stumbles in the final act, it’s a worthy addition to the lore and well worth a swing down to the Fridley Palms Theatre to check out on the big screen.