Unmask the truth.
The Batman hits theaters this last weekend! This was my most anticipated film of the year, and it delivered on a lot of levels. There were a few disappointments inside of the film, and I still don't feel like I have a fully formed opinion on it. It's definitely one of the three best Batman movies, but I still don't know exactly how much I liked it. THIS IS A SPOILER-FILLED REVIEW. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE BATMAN, CLICK OUT OF THIS AND GO SEE THE FRICKIN' MOVIE.
If you have...here we go. I've wanted to talk spoilers about The Batman for about two weeks now, so I'm very excited to share this review. This is also not going to be the format of my No Way Home spoiler review. It will be structured more like a regular review.
General Thoughts After 2nd Viewing
I saw The Batman for the second time last night, and most of my positives and negatives are still relatively the same. I think I liked it slightly better the second time, but I also had a slight bit of recency bias when I watched it the first time. I've pinpointed my opinion a little bit better: this is a great detective story with some awesome moments in it, but it does not fully stick the landing. Matt Reeves was so close to giving us the superhero phenomenon that we hoped The Batman would be...but I don't think he quite got there. So let's talk about it.
As I said in my initial review, The Batman is a detective mystery thriller with shades of Se7en, Zodiac, Chinatown, and Saw. The film puts Batman front and center. Not Riddler. Not Penguin. And not Bruce Wayne. Batman. He is in the suit and figuring out the riddles for most of the film. I thought Riddler's riddles were smart and made sense. I like that Riddler's riddles each built on top of each other. The riddles and secrets that come out after the mayor's murder matter an hour and a half later when Batman is trying to save Gil Colson's life after the funeral. Riddler's plan was like a bunch of dominoes set up, and I felt like all of those dominoes were knocked down in the right way.
Performances are still great. I mentioned that in my spoiler-free review, so I'm not going to really talk about it again, but everyone is still pretty much perfectly cast here.
I love the rich history of Gotham that they build out here. The Maroni drug bust and the Thomas Wayne renewal fund are the two big things that are woven in throughout this film, and I love the development that they put into those two events. When they start digging into Batman's psyche as he learns that perhaps his father wasn't the white knight that Bruce thought, I felt that. I really liked that aspect.
And I think Batman's character arc here is basically flawless. From the opening scene, it establishes that this Batman is a symbol of terror for Gotham. Not just for criminals. Citizens are afraid of him. The police don't want him at crime scenes. But when he realizes that Riddler is inspired by him, by vengeance, he learns that he must become a symbol of hope. Not fear. That is an incredible journey, and I cannot wait to see how that is developed more in future films.
I thought that Riddler in the first half of this film was absolutely terrifying. The first scene where he murders the mayor is one of the creepiest scenes in a Batman movie, and the murder of Commissioner Savage is a scene pulled straight from a horror movie. Reeves did not shy away from a mortifying villain, and I really do hope we see more of Riddler in the future.
I also loved the use of Penguin. Colin Farrell was great. The makeup was great. But what I really loved is that he isn't the Penguin we know and adore yet. He's becoming the mob boss. After Falcone is murdered, he assumes that position. We will see his rise to power in his own TV show, but I loved that this film sets up that rise to power. Also, the car chase is a standout sequence inside of this movie. This is my favorite Batmobile by far. I think my favorite moment in the movie is when the Batmobile starts revving up. It's awesome.
Finally, I loved the little easter eggs that were planted. The fact that the reporter who Falcone murdered for Thomas Wayne was named "Edward Elliot" is very significant. In the comics, Thomas Elliot is the supervillain Hush, so they could be setting something up there. I think it's very important that the district attorney is dead. That leaves the position of DA open, so maybe we will see Harvey Dent / Two-Face assume that position. And, finally, in the final battle, Batman injects himself with a vial of green liquid that highly resembles the Bane venom from the comics. Just saying.
The big thing that I think holds The Batman back from being one of the best is Catwoman. I don't like Catwoman as a character. The only time I've ever liked her is in Batman Returns. Every other time, whether it's The Dark Knight Rises or the comics or any TV show, I've always thought she bogs Batman down. I never find her interesting, and I did not find her interesting in The Batman. Her subplot where she is searching for her roommate is not compelling to me. And I think they give it too much of the spotlight. I'll talk about that in a sec. I think Zoe Kravitz is great. But I just don't like Catwoman. And I never have. But I'm sure we will see more of her, so maybe she eventually wins me over.
I just think the last two-thirds of this film is a bit of a mess. The lesser part of The Batman starts when Riddler releases a video online that explains the corruption of Thomas Wayne and how Carmine Falcone killed a reporter for him. Then Bruce goes to talk to Falcone. All of this was obviously important. But it destroys the pacing of the film. We barely get any Riddler for almost an hour, and that's a huge problem, because Riddler is the main antagonist of the film. After Bruce talks to Falcone, he talks to Alfred. So that's about ten minutes where we hear the same story twice. And all of this is because Bruce believed the words of a psychopath that posts videos online. I don't really find that compelling. I find it frustrating. And instead of choosing to go talk to his butler, the person he trusts most, he talks to the lying crime boss that is selfish and the opposite of trustworthy. I don't understand that.
And, right after that, we resolve the Annika plotline. Catwoman finds out that Falcone killed Annika. So she takes matters into her own hands. She attacks Falcone and reveals to him that she's his daughter. Which, to me, makes no sense. Throughout the entire movie, they made it seem like Falcone knew this information. I think Catwoman being Falcone's daughter is just a bad idea in the first place, and it doesn't really do the movie any favors. So that's where this movie falls apart a little bit.
Then Riddler shoots and kills Falcone and gets arrested. And, while I didn't love the final battle the first time, I actually liked it much better this time. I felt the tension. It wasn't as high as the first part of the movie, but it definitely felt improved. I just think it's a little bit weird that the main villain of your movie is captured and the mystery is resolved...but there's forty minutes left in the film. That's strange structure. But it didn't bother me as much the second time around.
Real quick, I just want to mention that I felt the runtime a lot more this second time. I don't know what it was, but this film felt really long when I saw it again.
Finally, we've got to talk about that last scene. The unseen Arkham prisoner.
It's in the Sour category, but I really don't hate this scene. I don't love it. I think it's kind of a lame introduction to the Joker. And it feels forced. But as a scene, it was somewhat of a fun surprise. I don't think Matt Reeves really needed to tease us for the future of the Bat-verse, because everyone who watches this movie will want a sequel. Barry Keoghan is a good fit for the Joker, and I do want to see him eventually, but I don't really think he needed to be in this movie.
I've cemented my opinion on The Batman. It's a great detective story that doesn't tie it together entirely. It loses its footing when Bruce goes to talk to Falcone and never really gains it back. This review was definitely more negative than positive, but I wanted to highlight the things that I didn't like, because the things that I liked were more present in my spoiler-free review. So I still think this is a very good movie. But it is not top tier.
But, as much as I don't really want to, I have to go Savory. Age range is 12+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Fun Factor: 8.5/10
Directed by Matt Reeves
Rated PG-13 for moderate violence and action, frightening scenes, drug use, language, thematic elements
Released on March 4, 2022
2 hours and 56 minutes
Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne / Batman Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle / Catwoman
Paul Dano as Edward Nashton / Riddler
Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon
John Turturro as Carmine Falcone
Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot / Penguin
Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth
Peter Sarsgaard as Gil Colson
Alex Ferns as Pete Savage
Jayme Lawson as Bella Real
Barry Keoghan as The Joker