The Batman could easily be the most anticipated film since the pandemic began with Robert Pattinson donning the role of the caped crusader in a new reinvention of the dark knight’s story.
Directed by Matt Reeves, the originator of Cloverfield, and director of both Dawn and War of the Planet of the Apes, Reeves has undeniably proven himself over the years a master of world-building.
The Batman is no exception to this.
Told in true film noir, The Batman accepts audiences are familiar with the origin of Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), so instead leads with Batman and Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) as they try to solve, and decipher the clues and puzzles set by the Riddler (Paul Dano).
What makes The Batman so masterful is, as mentioned, Reeves knows how to build an immersive universe.
Each character is given importance and weight, with every location feeling tangible and its geography understood.
While the film noir storytelling follows Bruce trying to be the vigilante detective as depicted in the comics, he works alongside Selina Kyle (Zöe Kravitz), known better in the comics as the anti-hero Catwoman, as they trudge through the slums of Gotham encountering mobsters and crime underworld bosses.
With a who’s who including Oswald ‘Oz’ Cobblepot (aka the Penguin – portrayed by Colin Farrell in enough prosthetics to give Foxhunter a run for its money), and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), Gotham becomes the backdrop for villainous deeds.
All the while, Dano’s Riddler sets mind-twisting puzzles and Jigsaw-style mastermind deaths.
With a billing cast like The Batman, its lead, Pattinson needs to pull his punches. And that he does.
The Twilight Zone
Without a doubt, Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne was perfect casting and I would argue on par as one of the definitive Bruce Wayne’s audiences have seen in the last forty years alongside Christian Bale.
Easily trumping Ben Affleck, Van Kilmer, Michael Keaton, and George Clooney as one of the best portrayals we have seen.
Where a more comedic reviewer may draw a parallel between Edward Cullen’s emo bat lifestyle, and that of Bruce Wayne’s, it is a greater pleasure seeing Pattinson explore a similar cinematic route of Daniel Radcliffe.
Neither of them act in films now for economic purposes, but are rather doing it as an artistic expression.
Pattinson for instance starred in the absurdist surreal black and white film, The Lighthouse, and in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet – a film originally expected to bring audiences back to the cinema though I suspect The Batman will succeed where Tenet failed.
In the same breath, Radcliffe however has almost satirically acted in films audiences wouldn’t expect the Boy-Who-Lived to undertake.
The Playmobil movie, Swiss Army Man, Guns Akimbo and The Lost City all show how little Radcliffe cares about the money, but rather allows him to just have fun.
And that’s what The Batman is.
It’s all the cast and crew coming together and telling the best story they want to tell.
It most certainly stands on its own two feet, and is a well-deserved contender as a replacement to The Dark Knight, with The Batman offering its equivalent to ‘the boat scene’.
Additionally, each scene of The Batman is a visual spectacle.
Every frame could be frozen, painted and memorialised as art.
Director of photography Greig Fraser often had me questioning whether I was watching Sir Roger Deakins conduct his magic under a pseudonym. It was mesmerising.
Similarly, the score by Michael Giacchino is, as to be expected from Giacchino, gorgeous.
Adding tension to a scene, and compelling me to feel deeper and truly get into the heads of these twisted characters was exactly what great storytelling should be about.
While the nearly three-hour runtime does leave a sour taste, I am delighted to see the beginning of a new Batman trilogy, especially with 2019 BAFTA Rising Star Award nominee Barry Keoghan heavily insinuated to be the Joker in the epilogue.
Speaking of, if eight-time nominated Academy Award film Joker was deserving of nominations for Best Picture, Best Director as well as winning Best Actor, I see no reason why Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves shouldn’t take home a coveted golden statuette each for their involvement in The Batman.
This masterpiece proves that even during the height of the pandemic, cinema, and art cannot be stopped.