Ok, I know, I’m supposed to review “Spiderman: No Way Home.” I already told the tale of woe about missing it during the holidays and I have just not gotten around to seeing it. BUT my eldest son wanted to see Batman and I never miss a Batman movie op, so I saw Batman this weekend. I won’t have any big spoilers but I will presume that you have seen the trailers and know which characters are in the film.
I’ve been wondering about this a new Batman being separate from the newly established “Justice League” bunch. But this is a little more like the first Christopher Nolan film “Batman Begins” in that Bruce Wayne is a bit grittier. I was very concerned about Robert Pattinson a former vampire of sorts known internationally for his role in the “Twilight” series. But enough about vampires in love let’s talk about the Bat shall we?
Pattinson is quite good behind the mask but less believable as Bruce Wayne. But this is not really his fault, as clearly this Bruce was written to be darker and even more brooding than most films have him. There is a scene where he needs to play the “role” of the sole Wayne family heir and dresses up a bit. He doesn’t pull off Bruce Wayne well in my opinion. This film spends very little time in the high society circles so I can forgive the lack of Wayne decorum from the young and trouble Bruce. Batman Begins however was dealing with a similar situation and they gave us a very believable Bruce Wayne.
This film spends most of its time as a detective drama and that is spot on for Batman, you know Batman, the world’s greatest detective a product of DC aka Detective Comics 😉 By now you know the primary villain is the “Riddler” and this the early stage Riddler with the early stages of development, is not yet the criminal mastermind. He is off to a hell of a rookie year as he baffles the bat and manages to unleash a pretty epic catastrophe on Gotham City. Paul Dano’s Riddler spends much of the movie obscured from the camera and is not really a big scene stealer, but near the end we see him in the full light of day…err dark and gritty Gotham night, and Paul delivers a convincing psychopath.
Pattinson was better than I expected and the Director, Matt Reeves pulled off a well done film if not one than ran the clock a tad on the long side. That aside we are given a well done weaving of many of Gotham’s legendary villains tied together nicely and interwoven into the Riddler’s mad scheme. They are not just tossed in like cabbage in a cheap salad, but all play an internal part in the Bat solving the case. The villains in the Batman comics are among the greatest villains of all time, and I feel like they got the respect they deserve int his movie. Sure Penguin is under developed, but he will likely be back.
I was delighted with the cast in this film. This wasn’t a who’s who of the A-listers in Hollywood, but we got quality peeps playing quality roles. So we know our leading man, how about the leading lady. The Batman has always had a quasi love interest in Catwoman, Selena Kyle this go round is played by Zoë Kravitz. I like this Catwoman and she provides plenty of Catwoman’s trademark sex appeal but also is extremely believable in the role of a fighter using cat-like reflexes and martial prowess to defeat larger and stronger enemies. Ms Kravitz was good here and I must say I look forward to a return to this role if Warner Brothers decide to bring a sequel. They allude to it at the end of the film. Kravitz gives us a gritty, sexy, compassionate, character who’s tendency to slide away from lawful behavior is totally forgiven. Bravo Ms. Kravitz. She is the daughter of legendary musician Lenny Kravitz by the way, in case you are wondering 🙂
Warner Brothers is one of the studios pushing a lot of woke politics in their movies and TV. They literally chased me away from their TV shows in the DC universe. I don’t watch movies and sports to be preached at from the likes of Hollywood which contains some of humanities most wretched souls. You know, people like Harvey Weinstein for example. Anyway, this movie avoids the politic divisiveness and hatred with just a couple of veiled moments of wokeism.
The best part of this film was the police drama angle with a very ‘procedural’ approach. We will be exposed to the possibility that the shiny reputation of the Wayne family may have some dirty little secrets to tell. We were first shown this less than lustrous point of view in the 2019 film, The Joker. Bruce has to dive into this potential reality of his family legacy and the other characters ensnared in the Riddler’s master plan fall into the Wayne family legacy as well. This part of the plot was rather brilliant actually. Sure it’s a Batman movie, so there has to be lots of punching, car chasing, and explosions. There are plenty of those, but this plot was well weaved and the characters for the most part fit really well into the story. In the end Batman solves the case but not entirely as sometimes is the case in the comics. Batman recognizes too late that there was more to the Riddler’s mad scheme, and at the end becomes the hero rather than the vigilante detective, and that was excellent ending.
I was told that Batman’s gadgets and utility belt were sub par and rudimentary. I disagree with that sentiment. In this movie Bruce has yet to get involved with the Wayne Enterprises legend, Lucius Fox. But his gadgets are still awesome, come on guys this is a “young bat.”
Matt Reeves gives us the Gotham we all expect, it is grimy, filthy, and corrupt as hell. The visuals from the foreground to the background give us a Gotham we can feel dirty in. We get a solid performance by veteran actor Jeffery Wright playing the good cop in a bad town, Jim Gordon. This is early in the Batman timeline he is still just Lt. James Gordon. We have Colin Farrell as the opportunistic Penguin. Not as dashing as the umbrella clad Burgess Meredith of the 1960s TV show nor the wretched freak show delivered by Danny Devito in Batman Returns (1992). This Penguin will likely return in a sequel and hopefully he can rise to the occasion. We get Carmine Falcone played extremely well by actor John Turturro. This may be the best Falcone I have ever seen on the silver screen or TV. I bought that gangster vibe lock, stock, and barrel.
By now you may be wondering why I haven’t brought up Alfred Pennyworth. Well Andy Serkis does a good job as the venerable Alfred but I can’t decide where he lands on the all time Alfred list. I’ll have to see the movie again and work it out. Maybe I’ll bring it up in a future Batman themed article.
I mentioned earlier that this film seems to set up a sequel and the newly elected young and seemingly compassionate Mayor Bella Reál played by Jayme Lawson should return in a sequel. Will this charming and lovely young mayor make real progress in Gotham or will she become entwined in the corruption that is so famous in G-town. Enquiring minds want to know.
So this Batman film was better than I expected and will find itself nicely perched on the top half of the left hand page of the list of best superhero films, but as good as it is, it doesn’t rise to the level of the first two films from Christopher Nolan, nor is it in that upper echelon in the top 10, but it is solid and well worth the price of admission. BTW I stayed to the bitter end to watch an after credit scene that turned out to be a bit of a joke on us viewers. You don’t have to stay because there isn’t much there, but I will avoid the spoiler just in case you want to hold back that bathroom break a little longer. This is a THREE hour film.