THE BATMAN

If there is one thing that audiences around the world salivate over, it’s a new Batman film. If we are counting 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie, there have been close to twenty film appearances by the Caped Crusader since 1989. A-List actors such as Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, and George Clooney have donned the famous cowl to varying degrees of success. There have been spin-offs (Joker and The Suicide Squad), reboots (The Dark Knight Trilogy), and even a battle with Superman (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) thrown in for good measure. In fact, we love Batman so much that there are now officially three certainties in life. Death, taxes, and The Batman. Warner Brothers entrusted director Matt Reeves (Planet of the Apes) to introduce us to a new version of the World’s Greatest Detective that is dark and morose. This isn’t your father’s Batman. The Batman picks up with Bruce Wayne/Batman (Robert Pattinson) in only his second year as Gotham’s guardian. A demented serial killer named The Riddler (Paul Dano) is brutally killing city officials one by one and leaving clues or riddles addressed to Batman. Batman enlists the help of James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz) and his trusted butler, Alfred (Andy Serkis). The team must navigate the criminal underbelly of Gotham, including the notorious Penguin (Colin Farrell) and mob boss Carmine Falcone (Jon Turturro) to unravel the mystery of The Riddler’s true identity.

While watching The Batman, it’s clear that Reeves took David Fincher’s incredibly dark films such as Zodiac and Se7en as inspiration for his story. Towards the end of the film’s bloated three-hour runtime, it almost feels like we are watching scenes from Se7en with Batman blatantly inserted. The film’s dark and ominous narrative would’ve been more effective with a more original story. Pattinson works as Batman, but his Bruce Wayne is mediocre. By night, Pattinson’s Batman patrols the streets with a brooding and terrifying vengeance. By day, Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is a mopey, mascara-wearing recluse who more resembles the lead singer of an emo rock band than a billionaire philanthropist.

In the end, nitpicks aside, Matt Reeves’ new version of Batman is a mildly entertaining crime thriller that succeeds in whetting our appetites for a sequel. Just don’t make it so long next time.

By SCOTT PETERSON
cinesportstalk.com
@CineSportsTalk