“The Batman” movie review

Charlie Seymour

Vengeance. That is the driving force behind Matt Reeves’s The Batman: a gritty, neo-noir investigative take on the iconic Dark Knight. The film contained the typical components the Batman audience has grown to love over the years, including fight scenes teeming with blunt force trauma, wild plots from whatever villains get thrown into the mix and the occasionally dubious love interest. However, Reeve’s Bruce Wayne was a marked shift away from the past portrayal as a debonair magnate who fights crime in his free time. Instead, Robert Pattinson plays the character as gaunt and disheveled, following the Riddler’s trail of clues to unearth the villain’s evil plot as more of a detective figure than a superhero. Only during notable fights directly with the antagonists of the movie do we see Pattison equip the armor of the caped crusader.

Since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Westflix Film Festival Judge Oliver Wyman ’22 said DC Comics’s films have taken a progressively darker turn with their storylines. He attributes DC’s divergence from the generally over-saturated, action-packed superhero movies to a recent increase in the audience’s interest in stories focused more on the struggle of individual characters.

“I think mental health plays a major role in the formulation of DC’s choice to make darker movies,” Wyman said. “That is why I think The Batman is such a triumph for how grungy and different the direction of this film went. The return of the anti-hero is back since Heath Ledger’s mind-boggling performance in The Dark Knight.”

Wyman said he prefers DC’s shift toward more dismal movies to Marvel Studios’ highly commercialized productions.

“Personally, I’m bored of the 500 million dollar budget movies Marvel cranks out every year,” Wyman said. “Instead of wasting countless dollars on some 30 minute [computer generated] fight, I think studios are wising up to what this younger generation of moviegoers are into: psychological thrillers and films with an edge.”

On the other end of the spectrum, while he has yet to view the film, Endowed Chair for Performing Arts And Cinema Studies Ted Walch said the movie’s darker tones are due to DC’s fear of straying from the beaten path. Walch said his love for the lead actors would be the only reason he ventured to theaters to watch.

“Nolan went dark with Batman, so those that follow seem to think they have to go darker, which, when you stop to think about it, is a bit of a failure of imagination on their part,” Walch said. “I am a big fan of Pattinson, however, so I may overcome my general indisposition to see movies of this ilk just to see Pattinson do his thing. I also come close to worshiping Paul Dano, and I would love to see what he does with The Riddler.”

In addition to Paul Dano as the villain, the film was Pattinson’s debut appearance as the character, with Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle (a.k.a. Catwoman), Colin Farrell as Penguin and Paul Dano as The Riddler. Wyman said while he enjoyed the plot of the movie, the dialogue was weak at times and took away from the intense visuals.

“The storyline was solid and allowed for all the players in the film to develop,” Wyman said. “Of course, the dialogue was no Casablanca, but it allowed for enough variation to keep the viewer enticed.”

Long-time Batman fan Micahel Lapin ’22 said the film’s complicated story made it hard to follow as a viewer, but its cast’s performance helped him still enjoy watching the movie.

“[The movie’s] many twists and turns were too complicated and confusing to understand what was going on at a given time,” Lapin said. “However, the acting from [Kravitz] and [Dano] still made the movie enjoyable enough to watch.”

In short, thematically, the movie was profoundly darker than any past Batman movies or other superhero films, providing a pleasant tweak in the typical narrative that focuses on the psyche of each character. Still, The Batman had excellent hand-to-hand combat fight scenes that acted as a welcome break to the cheesily terse dialogue. The film falls short with the actual progression of the plot, making the viewer acutely aware of the three hours they are spending in a theater. It was definitely an enjoyable experience, but not one that is worth repeating.