Movie Review - The Batman (SPOILER-FREE)

Unmask the truth.

The Batman is a 2022 neo-noir superhero mystery film directed by Matt Reeves, written by Matt Reeves and Peter Craig, produced by DC Films, 6th & Idaho, and Dylan Clark Productions, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based off of various Batman comics by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. It stars Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz. This is the tenth film in the Batman franchise, but the first in the Bat-verse. It was preceded by Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and will be followed by a sequel as well as two spin-off TV shows.


"I'm vengeance." - Batman

Plot


Two years into his war on crime as the Batman, Bruce Wayne encounters trouble when a masked psychopath called the Riddler begins tearing Gotham apart piece by piece.


My Expectations Going In


Story and Mystery / Riddler and Penguin / Batman / True Adaptations of the Comics / Performances / Deep Lore / Future / Pacing / Last Third / Tying Things Together / Biting Off More Than They Can Chew


Final Score


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My Expectations


I have been waiting for The Batman for two and a half years. Like a lot of people, I lost my mind when that first trailer for the film dropped, and, since then, I've been highly anticipating this movie. It was my most anticipated movie of the year, and I just could not wait for it.


Did it live up to the hype? Find out down below.


The Batman - The Sweet


Easily the best thing about The Batman is its mystery aspect. This is definitely more of a mystery film than a superhero film. Matt Reeves cited films such as Se7en, Chinatown, and Zodiac as inspiration for this movie, and you definitely see that in here. He crafts a thrilling narrative with a very deep and complex mystery at the core that Batman slowly uncovers through a series of chilling puzzles from the Riddler. Batman being the world's greatest detective has never really been put on screen, but it's shown here. All of the answers to the various riddles make sense. The corruption and lies get you really invested in this film. I really loved this noir mystery as the central story.


There are really three main villains in the film, but Riddler and Penguin are the two I want to talk about. Because they are two of the best Batman villains to appear on screen. Paul Dano's take on the Riddler is so nuts and so scary, but works so well. I love that Reeves drew inspiration from the Zodiac Killer for the Riddler. If you are not a fan of Jim Carrey's Riddler, look no further, because Paul Dano has given us a great new take on the character.


And Colin Farrell's Penguin is also a standout. I am not a fan of Penguin from Batman Returns, and I found this Penguin to be much more interesting and exciting. This feels more like the Penguin from the comics; this narcissistic, powerful mobster that is more a part of Gotham's elite. I am very excited to see more of him in the future.


One of my big complaints with the Batman franchise is that it so often sidelines Batman in favor of the villains. That is not the case here. Batman is the main character. Even more so than Bruce Wayne. And he has a great character arc. This version of Batman is still an amateur crime-fighter, so we see him make mistakes and grow and change from those mistakes. I cannot wait for more of him. I think, with time, he will evolve into my favorite Batman.


Another thing that The Bamtan does so well is adaptations of the comics. It pulls elements of its story straight from The Long Halloween, Year One, Zero Year, and more. I loved that aspect, but I also think the characters are the truest to the comics here. Batman is growing and developing and learning how to be a symbol of hope for Gotham, which is the growth he goes through in the comics. Riddler is a complete psychopath that also has a knack for being cheesy at times. Penguin is this intelligent mob boss that corrupts Gotham. Catwoman grows into a more villainous person that feels like the seductive anti-hero from the comics.


And the cast here does an absolutely fantastic job. Robert Pattinson gives us the bleakest and most broken Batman yet, and he nails it. Goodbye, Edward Cullen. Hello, Bruce Wayne. Colin Farrell, Zoë Kravitz, and John Turturro all deliver pretty good performances, with Farrell being a little bit better than the latter two. I thought he nailed the voice and mannerisms of the Penguin. But the standout performance alongside Robert Pattinson is Paul Dano. He just takes this in all different kinds of crazy directions. He's terrifying. He's so crazy and intimidating at times, but can also be really genuine. He has these bursts of insanity that make you extremely uncomfortable. He gives us one of the best and craziest villain performances I've seen.


The film also really works to flesh out Gotham. I won't go into specifics, but there's a deep, rich lore buried beneath Gotham that you uncover throughout the film. There's a major event that has been hinted at in trailers but not overtly stated that sort of ties the whole mystery together, and it really makes you see Gotham as this lived-in world with an entire backstory and history. It's a city that I definitely want to see more of. God, I am really excited for the future of this Batman universe.


Finally, this film definitely sets up hope for a sequel. Warner Bros. intends to launch a Batman universe with this film, so we are getting a Gotham PD show as well as a Penguin spin-off show. Supposedly, there's going to be a trilogy of Batman films, but a sequel has not yet been green-lit. However, I think there will be a sequel. And they are in good shape for that. There are some things teased near the end of the film that get me very excited for the future.


The Batman - The Sour


Sadly, there are some problems with this film.


The first thing is the pacing. For the first two thirds of the film, I was tracking with the pace. It moved quickly and nicely. I loved it. There are two main plot lines of the film: one involving the Riddler and one involving Gotham corruption. For the first two-thirds of the movie, those plot lines were woven together in a well-done fashion, and I loved that. But near the end of the film, they decided to break the two apart...so there's about twenty-five minutes where there is no Riddler and barely any Batman. It kills the pace of the movie, and the film struggles to fully regain it's footing after that. I wish they'd found a better way to structure this film, because that could've improved a lot of my problems with it.


And the last third of this film simply does not live up to the first two-thirds. The first two hours of this movie are the best two hours of a comic book film since The Dark Knight. I was in love with that part of the film. And I wish they were able to wrap it up better. But after they try to resolve our two main plot lines separately, it never reaches the incredible heights that the first part of the film did. It feels like all of the tension of the film has been released and the mystery has been solved...but there's still a good chunk of time left. And that can leave you with a disappointing feeling at the end of the movie.


I also don't think this film completely ties everything together. Riddler's motivations are explained in great detail and his character makes sense, but they didn't really explain how he knew all of the information that he knew. There are loose ends that don't get fully resolved by the end of the film, which didn't bother me too much, but it's definitely a problem.


I think the main problem is that Matt Reeves and co. bit off a little more than they can chew. I don't think The Batman is overstuffed, but I do think it added some unnecessary plot elements that threw off the balance of the film. A good amount of the story was dedicated to Carmine Falcone, which I was surprised by, and I think that that weakens the movie a little bit. There's some connections with Catwoman that didn't entirely work for me either, and it just felt like elements that Reeves could've cut out of the film.


Final Score


The Batman does mostly live up to the hype. The first two-thirds of the movie are stunning and rival The Dark Knight, but the end does not entirely stick the landing. I do need more time to sit with it and re-evaluate my thoughts, but I am going with this rating for now.


I will still go Sweet. Age range is 13+.


"The Batman"


Fun Factor: 9/10

Acting: 9/10

Characters: 9.5/10

Story: 9/10

Quality: 8.5/10


Directed by Matt Reeves


Rated PG-13 for moderate violence and action, language, frightening images, disturbing themes, thematic elements


Released on March 4, 2022


2 hours and 56 minutes


Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne / Batman

Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle / Catwoman

Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner James Gordon

Paul Dano as Edward Nashton / Riddler

Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot / Penguin

John Turturro as Carmine Falcone

Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth

Peter Sarsgaard as Gil Colson

Jayme Lawson as Bella Reál

Barry Keoghan as The Arkham Prisoner