There’s a reason that Batman can’t seem to stay out of cinemas. One interpretation ends and another begins; a revolving door of talent lining up to wear the cape and cowl. A badge of honor when it’s done correctly, and a curse when it’s botched. But Batman is one of DC’s most popular characters and fans want to see him on the big screen. Lucky for those fans, the newest adaptation, from director Matt Reeves, is a masterpiece.
The Batman takes the character back to his early days as a masked vigilante. The story begins around Batman’s second year in action. He’s made friends with Lieutenant Gordon, but most of the Gotham City P.D. don’t trust him. A string of grizzly murders have rocked the city, each of them left with a mysterious message and a complex puzzle. Riddles and clues to the killers identity and motivations. When The Riddler starts leaving messages addressed directly to The Batman at each crime scene, the worlds greatest detective becomes entangled in a mystery that goes deeper than he’d ever imagined.
This movie works on nearly every level, but part of what makes it so effective is its cast. There isn’t a weak link among them. Colin Farrell is unrecognizable beneath a mountain of prosthetics, yet still gives one of the better performances of his career. He becomes The Penguin and perfectly embodies the cocky, untouchable mobster persona. Robert Pattinson (Battinson) takes the character of Batman to places we haven’t seen before. He’s darker. He’s more brutal. He’s filled with an anger and torment that feels raw and real. And that’s the overall aesthetic of the entire film. It’s raw and unpolished.
It’s that gritty realism that sets this film apart from other adaptations. I, of course, use the term “realism” loosely. This is still a movie about a rich kid dressed as a bat. But the story feels grounded in its detective elements. Much of the film feels like a love letter to the detective movies of the ’70s. Voice-over narration, rain-soaked streets, and car chases feel like deliberate homage to the decade that’s best known for the genre.
Following the announcement that Robert Pattinson would be playing the titular hero in The Batman, the people of the internet did what the people of the internet do best… They complained. It happened with Heath Ledger and Michael Keaton and today their performances are lauded as two of the best. I have no doubt that the same change of heart will befall the Twitter-verse following the release of The Batman. Pattinson’s take is different enough to set it apart, but true enough to the comics to satisfy the hardcore fanbase. It embraces the characters on a psychological level, while still showcasing impressive action set pieces. It is a spectacle. A magnificent achievement. 9/10