The most recent and highly anticipated Batman movie appeared in UK cinemas on 4th March 2022. Daniel Evans saw the film, and reviews.
The latest of 15 Batman films (if we include the animated) was faced with the daunting task of trying to do something new in a world that is oversaturated with the caped crusader. Actors from Christian Bale to George Clooney have taken their turn, and directors from Nolan to Joel Schumacher have turned their hand to this familiar story.
This newest film feels like a love letter to the films of David Fincher, and it is clear that great care was taken in crafting something that looked, sounded and felt far more immersive than any Batman film since The Dark Knight. Perhaps the grungiest of any comic book film to date, the Gotham we see in this film is dark, claustrophobic and decaying.
Bruce Wayne no longer wears the mask of a suave billionaire, but is a reclusive and damaged man living high up in a dark tower, questioning the futility of his actions. There is no slick basement full of high–tech gadgets, or a modern penthouse, but instead an abandoned train station full of car parts, grease and dust.
The film’s slow pace allows for a greater appreciation of some of its shots
The film clearly wants to go in its own direction relative to previous Batman films. And it achieves this with a superbly constructed atmosphere, thanks to brilliant cinematography from Greig Fraser, and scoring by Michael Giacchino. The film’s slow pace allows for a greater appreciation of some of its shots, and the attention to detail on each of them means that it never felt as though the run time was being padded.
As for the performances, Paul Dano again displays his outstanding range as the Riddler, showing us a genuinely unhinged and disturbing villain, and there are consistently strong performances from the supporting cast. Robert Pattinson also had the unenviable task of playing a character seen so much before, but he certainly rises to the occasion. He skilfully conveys a far more broken Bruce Wayne, a man who has not dealt with his demons, and who is visibly damaged by the lifestyle he leads. There aren’t smart Lamborghinis or tailored suites, but a reserved and clearly mentally unwell figure still dealing with the impact of unaddressed grief and trauma.
The only criticism I would give this film is that the plot is somewhat predictable in areas. The city-wide conspiracy narrative is not particularly innovative, and is nothing that we haven’t seen before. On the other hand, the ending is very well constructed. As someone who is frankly tired of boring CGI punch-ups at the end of films, it was refreshing to see a climax that wasn’t the result of a boardroom negotiation.
If we applied this logic, then very few films could ever be reviewed positively
It could be argued that The Batman is derivative, as its style is clearly lifted from the works of Fincher, such as Se7en and Zodiac. This criticism has very little validity, as if we applied this logic, then very few films could ever be reviewed positively. The Dark Knight is clearly influenced heavily by Heat (1995), and the recent Joker film (2019) is not dissimilar to The King of Comedy (1982), even casting Robert De Niro to play more or less the same character.
The Batman is well worth watching. At points it is genuinely chilling and contains some excellent set pieces and characters. I can only hope that it shows that there is room for films that attempt to challenge the comic book genres growing laziness and predictability with more a stylistic effort.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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