Growing up, Michael Keaton was my Batman. Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and growly voiced Christian Bale had nothing when pitted up against Keaton’s rendition. Don’t get me started on Batfleck, ugh. There was something about Keaton’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne and Batman that made those two films magical. Wayne was a serious natured socialite and exuded that “rich and famous” vibe while still had bursts of craziness that all humans have. His Batman had all the gadgets, the brains, and the fighting prowess that fit the world Tim Burton crafted.
Then Robert “Twilight” Pattinson comes along and makes an attempt for the top spot on my Batman ranking. To be honest, Pattinson might be one of the best Batmans (Batmen?) I’ve ever seen. However, I just didn’t like his version of Bruce Wayne.
Set two years after Batman enters the scene, the audience gets thrust into the beginning of a string of murders that threatens to collapse Gotham society. These murders call out conspiracy and corruption involving some of Gotham’s top people. Batman has been fighting crime for two years and has a tense working relationship with GCPD and allowed to view the crime scenes. Turns out the newest psychopath, the Riddler, has called out Batman. The Dark Knight and Detective Jim Gordon work together to figure out the biggest riddle of them all.
First off, let’s talk about Batman and Bruce Wayne. Normally, Wayne uses the playboy billionaire persona as a “mask” to throw off anyone that would think that Wayne=Batman. This time around, Batman has the bulk of screentime with a few appearances of Bruce Wayne. It’s been about 20 years since his parents were killed and he’s still suffering. This version of Wayne I didn’t care for. This version of Batman mixes the “Greatest Detective” with the typical screen version of a fighter.
As far as villains go, I loved The Riddler. Think what would happen if you took Jigsaw from the Saw franchise and mixed it with John Doe from Se7en (1995). He’s dark, violent, revolutionary, but tries to prove a point. As far as the Penguin goes, don’t go thinking he’s going to be the main villain. He’s just a flunky for mob boss Carmine Falcone. He’s more of a secondary bad guy. I hope that they’re building him up to become bigger and more interesting as the films go on. Which I’m sure they’ll make more.
The film is long. At 2 hours and 56 minutes, it’s a big boy. Director Matt Reeves fills that screentime with two story plots that weave together pretty seamlessly. The main storyline is the Riddler/Batman conflict. The secondary storyline centers on Selina Kyle (Catwoman) and her attempts to find her friend and then what happens when she does. There were times in this film where that secondary plot could’ve been sliced. Honestly, that whole secondary story could’ve been completely taken out.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Zoë Kravitz’s portrayal of Catwoman. However, I thought her character just didn’t have anything to do in the story.
The film wasn’t perfect. One of the things, fair warning I’m going to be nitpicky here, is that none of the bad guys shoot Batman in his face. If you look at the new costume, there’s a lot of skin on his face that’s not protected by armor. There’s one point in the film where one guy actually does point his shotgun at Batman’s face and I actually shouted “Thank you!” Another nitpicky thing I didn’t care for was that the Riddler targets Bruce Wayne but doesn’t stay consistent with the rest of his victims. And you think it’s for one reason, but it’s really not.
The film treads the line between PG-13 and R. While it is PG-13, this probably isn’t a film you’ll want to take your young children to. Maybe your teenagers, but not your younger children. There’s a plethora of swear words, one of which being the F-Bomb. There’s some content that’s sexual in nature, but nothing graphic. There’s plenty of violence, but not a lot of blood and gore. There’s a lot of drug use involving a fictious drug known as Drops. There are intense and dark scenes throughout the film.
Overall, this was one of the better films to enter the Batman cinematic world. Director Matt Reeves created an interesting, albeit dark and gloomy, Gotham City with an equally dark and gloomy protector. Pattison exceeded my expectations as Batman. It’ll be intriguing to see where they go with this new series.
Scores (as of March 10, 2022):
Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer/Audience Score): 86% / 89%
My Score: 8.5/10