Film review: The Batman (2022), directed by Matt Reeves
tl;dr: Not so much a Batman film as a general ~vibe~.
The Caped Crusader is back again. This time we don’t bother with an origin story or set it in the larger DC Universe, no, it’s more of a standalone. You thought the Dark Knight Trilogy was dark and gritty? The Batman will tell you to hold its beer.
A serial killer (Paul Dano) is on the loose in Gotham City, taking out key political figures. The murders are particularly sadistic, and each leave an envelope with a card addressed to a certain superhero. Batman (Robert Pattinson) decides to investigate, and finds himself in a web of corrupt politics.
The biggest thing to say about this film is that it feels like more of an aesthetic than anything else. A lot of brooding, a lot of dark shots, and long stretches of silence. Is it Batman-y? It’s about a million miles away from the camp of the 1960s Batman. This is a slow burn crime thriller that happens to have people using names from DC Comics, kind of like how Joker (2019) was about a Batman villain, but also felt more standalone.
Okay, sure, you have more characters whose names you’ve heard before. Alfred (Andy Serkis) is there, not-yet-Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) is there, Selina “Cat Woman” Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) is there, along with baddies the Riddler (Dano) and the Penguin (Colin Farrell). But the Penguin, for instance, isn’t a guy in a tux who waddles about and has a thing for penguins – he’s referred to as Oz and is a drug kingpin with connections to organised crime. There’s a mob boss, Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) too. This is a lot more of a sort of dark crime or gangster film than it is a superhero film. Which is fine.
It’s mostly shot in and around the UK, that’s fine too. Rupert Penry-Jones and Peter Sarsgaard feature in two smaller roles, that’s cool.
If you didn’t know it was Colin Farrell behind all of that makeup, you’d never guess. He’s unrecognisable, and doing a good job of it too. People have Opinions™ when it comes to Robert Pattinson, because who would ever think of him as Batman?! But credit where credit’s due, I don’t mind him as Batman. If anything was the problem, I’d say it’s his Bruce Wayne, because he didn’t come across as a slick, charismatic billionaire. But I don’t know, maybe that was a creative choice. We both felt it didn’t really work for us personally.
The Batman is a moody, broody film. Is it good? It’s alright, but I don’t think it necessarily needed to be just shy of three hours long, because at times it did seem tedious. Even though the investigative parts of it was enjoyable, and the crimes gruesome, and all that, but a little less brooding would have helped. It’s a film, not merely an art project.
3 out of 5 rats.