Blu-ray Review: The Batman
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Written by: Matt Reeves and Peter Craig
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell
Reviewed by: Eric Joseph
Thanks go to WB for the free review copy.
More than a year of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City.
With only a few trusted allies – Alfred (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) – amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens.
When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), Oz, aka The Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka The Riddler (Paul Dano).
As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.
If I can say anything about The Batman, it’s that it’s the most Batman movie ever Batman’d. Really. Though it’s the most realistic interpretation ever captured on film – even more so than those directed by Christopher Nolan – Matt Reeves’ crime epic is more in keeping with the tone of the comic books than any other. No other filmmaker has focused so much on the detective aspects of the Caped Crusader since Adam West donned the cowl, and it really makes for a different sort of picture. Plus, Robert Pattinson spends more time in costume than any of his predecessors.
Quite frankly, that latter observation fits in line with the narrative. The story picks up in Year Two of this Dark Knight’s crimefighting career and, psychologically, there’s no distinction between Batman and Bruce Wayne in the mind of the burgeoning vigilante. I won’t spoil it, but he goes through a moving personal journey, and the third act sees him emerge as a symbol of hope in Gotham in a way I’ve never seen before.
Helping Bruce reformulate his worldview is Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle, a not-quite-yet-Catwoman. I really like seeing the Bat and the Cat working side by side, so those in the same boat will also enjoy seeing that particular dynamic carried over to the big screen. I’m not sure if Kravitz has the same grandiose presence as Michelle Pfeiffer, but her iteration is the most comic-accurate to date. This is how I’d been waiting to see Selina portrayed on film. Now, if they could only give us the proper cowl, complete with goggles in the next flick…
I also must tip my hat to Paul Dano and Colin Farrell, who portrayed the Riddler and the Penguin, respectively. Although I’m still indifferent toward Dano’s costume, it makes perfect sense in context with the narrative. He did a fantastic job of embodying a fringe-type serial killer with poor social skills. Farrell, meanwhile, shines in his most chameleonic role ever. It’s no wonder he’s getting a spinoff series on HBO Max.
What amazed me as a lover of the source material is how many different influences from which writer/director Matt Reeves pulled to form a coherent screenplay. There are the obvious comic books that served as inspiration such as Year One, The Long Halloween and Ego, but a deeper examination will also force you to recall Zero Year, Earth One and even Hush. And was it just me, or did Reeves also pull some stuff from the Arkham and Telltale games? I enjoyed seeing it all.
Bonus features are plentiful, thankfully. There’s a lengthy documentary, “Vengeance in the Making,” though there are various others that are shorter in length that detail different aspects of production. If those weren’t enough, there are two deleted scenes that can be viewed with or without the director’s commentary. In my view, nothing has ever eclipsed the bonus content that was brought to us by Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology (1989-1997), but this stuff will definitely keep you enthralled for a few hours.
I have no major complaints other than I wish that the two deleted scenes had been included in the feature film itself. Okay, the one with Selina and Penguin wasn’t too significant, but the one with Batman and Joker should have stayed. I know Reeves has his reasons, but I really dug The Silence of the Lambs vibe given – and the Joker puts butts in seats, so to speak.
There’s so much that I love about The Batman that I’m not sure whether I can coherently sum it all up. Time and perspective will decide whether it’s my favorite in the hallowed film franchise (it’s definitely near the top as of now), but I highly recommend checking it out. It’s not your usual superhero movie, though I can also see it appealing to those who just dig a good crime drama. Suffice it to say, I can’t wait to see the sequels that blossom from this. I say bring on Hush himself!