Movie Review: “The Batman” is the best superhero movie in years


Credit: DC Films, Warner Bros Studios

*spoilers ahead!*

Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” is not only one of the greatest superhero films but one of the greatest blockbusters of the last decade, in part due to the fact that it doesn’t treat itself as one. 

Warner Bros. took a step back and entrusted their biggest property to one visionary, akin to their decision in trusting Christopher Nolan back in 2005. In “The Batman”, director Matt Reeves (“War for the Planet of the Apes”) crafts a superhero film remarkably distinct from and more original than the majority of Hollywood’s current output, making for what is easily his best work. 

Greg Fraser (who previously photographed the beautiful, “Dune”) reimagines Gotham City in this new iteration; it feels alive, run-down, and – most importantly – real. From the shadows and lighting to the rain and environments, “The Batman”’s atmosphere is evocative as is its dreary yet alluring color pallet. One of the many highlights of the film is the Batmobile chase with Colin Farrel’s Penguin, not just because of his terrific performance but also due to the orange-lit set and use of practicality. The action sequences (mainly composed of silhouettes) are ambitiously choreographed. There are many long takes of hand-to-hand combat, all of which feel believable and immersive, and Fraser’s cinematography is a leading contributor to that fact.

Michael Giacchino’s musical score, while a tad bit excessive and overdramatic at times, is a prevalent aspect of the film. It’s loud and bombastic but manages to strike a balance through slow, quiet compositions. Giacchino composes a beautiful and genuinely mesmerizing main theme for the protagonist that separates itself from those that have come before and makes for incredibly memorable sequences. 

Robert Pattinson has been one of my favorite actors of the last decade with films such as “Good Time” (2017)  and “The Lighthouse” (2019). Here, Pattinson takes the iconic role and makes it his own. His expression, and often lack thereof, make his performance my absolute favorite of any actor who’s ever played the character. The film makes effective use of narration, giving the viewer insight into Bruce’s psyche and thought process while never straying the line of being comedic; it is the first superhero film since Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” (2002) to strike that perfect balance. The costume is probably my favorite of any Batman film; it feels so tangible and adds to the immersion for me. 

Jeffrey Wright (James Gordon) and Zoë Kravitz (Catwoman) give wonderful performances, and Paul Dano’s maniacal Riddler is without question a highlight of the film. Smaller roles like John Turturro and Andy Serkis were great as well.

As a detective story, “The Batman” delivers. It pays homage to Batman’s noir roots while also offering a mystery for the modern age. It has more in common with David Fincher’s “Zodiac” (2007) than a superhero blockbuster. I enjoyed the film’s focus on the criminal underworld and Gotham’s corruption; the political commentary can be pretty hamfisted at times, but it is serviceable for the heightened world of a comic book movie. Additionally, some of the film’s dialogue is cheesy and contradictory to its overall tone. There is also an unnecessary character-reveal by the end that ultimately hinders what makes the film so great. 

However, I loved Bruce’s personal journey throughout the film. He realizes he shouldn’t just be a symbol of fear, but rather a symbol of hope; it’s a different type of origin for the character and it’s one I feel was well executed. As grand as “The Batman” feels, it ends on a very intimate note and leaves the door open for more character growth.