Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on The Batman (2022)

A review on Hollywood feature length film, The Batman (2022). The film is directed by Matt Reeves and is yet another reboot of the Batman franchise. The film is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

+ Crew I

  • Directed by Matt Reeves
  • Cinematography by Greig Fraser
  • Written by Matt Reeves and Peter Craig
  • Edited by William Hoy and Tyler Nelson
  • Music by Michael Giacchino
  • Produced by Dylan Clark and Matt Reeves

+ Crew II (Production Houses)

  • DC Films
  • 6th & Idaho
  • Dylan Clark Productions

+ Note

Since Zack Synder’s DCEU was received with mixed reviews from the fans and critics, the solo Batman film starring Ben Affleck was ultimately abandoned until further notice. The production kept getting delayed but Warner Bros. had settled on Matt Reeves to direct as early as 2017. Since Ben Affleck was preoccupied with his Alcohol Abuse issue, Matt Reeves presented his first draft of the script to the executives at Warner. Upon receiving the copy himself, It was reported that Affleck was not happy with the direction that Reeves wanted to go into and was vastly different from what DCEU Batman was originally intended to be. Eventually Warner Bros decided to go with the Reeves’ version and Ben Affleck was eventually dropped from the project with several actors being casted for role of the caped crusader. Since Reeves’ version was a take on a younger, less experienced Batman, the director and studio ultimately went with Robert Pattinson as the new dark knight. 

The film was intentionally more dark and gritty than any of the previous iterations this time around, serving as a Murder mystery/ thriller and heavily influenced by David Fincher’s previous works like Se7en (1995) and Zodiac (2008). Due to the Pandemic, the production kept getting delayed, including Robert Pattinson testing positive during production which made the release being shifted to March 2022 instead.

The Batman was eventually released on 4th March 2022 with positive critical and commercial reviews.

+ Main Cast

  1. Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne / Batman
  2. Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle / Catwoman
  3. Paul Dano as Edward Nashton / Riddler
  4. Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon
  5. John Turturro as Carmine Falcone
  6. Peter Sarsgaard as Gil Colson
  7. Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth
  8. Colin Farrell as Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot / Penguin

+ Plot

Ever since the death of Thomas Wayne, the city of Gotham is in complete ruins. Corruption, street crime is rampant. The only hope this city has is in a vigilante by the name of The Batman. 

But there has been recently some retribution to all the lies that were being fed to the public by corrupt politicians across the city. A mysterious serial killer is making an example out of these representatives of the highest order through brutal violence and sadistic practices. Someone by the name of the Riddler. Will Batman be able to solve this mystery and become the savior of Gotham City in the process?

+ High Points

i – As a comic book fan, I always craved for a representation of Batman which had its own distinctive visual style but also paid homage to its source material and finally, fans like me can rejoice with this latest iteration of the dark knight. The Batman is the best, most comic accurate representation of the Caped Crusader on the Silver screen. The visuals are dark and broody, the shadows blend in seamlessly with the neon red backdrop, the city’s corruption and violence looks beyond repair and the only savior that they have is a vigilante who dresses as a bat and fights crime with the help of his detective skills. The film is an acute mixture of noir and grotesque murder mystery spliced in with occasional body horror images. The writer/ director Matt Reeves seems very well rehearsed as to what makes Batman appealing to its fans and core audience and does whatever it can not to stray away from that formula that has always worked in its source material. The film is nearly 3 hours long but due to some fantastic writing and engaging set pieces, it never felt dull even for a moment’s time. And as eloquently as Martin Scorsese might put it; The Batman is a heart pounding, thrilling amusement park ‘house of Spooky Horror’ ride from start to finish! 

ii – One of the most unique appeals of this iteration is of course Batman aka Bruce Wayne himself. This time Robert Pattinson (famous for his glittering vampire franchise ‘Twilight’) takes the reins of the dark vigilante who speaks less and investigates crime scenes more with his natural detective skills. Even the very few lines of levity come off with a sour taste of dark humor around it (which, of course I loved!). According to the film, Batman has only been cruising the streets of Gotham for two years so he is far from being the grizzled, experienced Batman that we have seen him in other iterations on screen. Which is why this version of Batman has a very distinctive character arc of learning the best possible way he could protect the city built by his father. The costume also plays a massive role in depicting the amateur years of the dark knight with layers of leather and bullet proof vests, making it combat heavy and practical instead of the stiff, visually pleasing costume of the Tim Burton era that we first introduced to. Yes, it is entirely debatable how this movie ranks with Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece The Dark Knight (2008) but as far as Batman goes on the big screen, this is the best version yet!

iii – And of course, no protagonist is complete without the wealth of side characters that accompany him throughout the film. And suffice to say, they all are unique and show stoppers in their own way, particularly Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle / Catwoman was outstanding as a mysterious femme fatale to the Bat. With the film nearly 3 hours long, Kravitz gets a ton of screen to play off Batman’s narrow perception towards criminals in his home city and does her part to gain his trust in their fight against the mysterious terrorist criminal mastermind. And that being of course, Paul Dano as the Riddler. 

His portrayal is vastly different from the comics, depicting him as a frustrated, ultra right wing, reddit blogger who promises to cleanse the Gotham City of “Liars” once and for all through gruesome violence against all the corrupt key representatives of the city. Admitteldy, Dano was the perfect casting for this role with his deceivingly innocent visage, sadistic crimes and childlike riddles accompanying it. Other villains in the rogue gallery include Colin Farrell as the Penguin (who is as over the top as his heavy makeup) and Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon (not yet Commissioner) who has a naive but honest take on the crime ridden world that he lives in. And last but not least, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone was menacing but much grounded than any of the other villains brought some grittiness and a clear indication as to who really pulls the strings behind the scenes.

All in all, the supporting cast goes brilliantly with the film, making most scenes memorable in their own unique way.

iv – Greig Fraser serves as the cinematographer for the film and by God, are the visuals impressive to stare at! The film at times feels claustrophobic due to its tight framing, focusing in and out from the foreground to the back, revealing information without unnecessary exposition. The color palette that Fraser uses is strictly limited, giving it a ‘noir, graphic novel’ touch to it. It was almost as if each frame was colored by a comic book colorist in post production. Although this technique might bother some, for me it worked absolutely to perfection, making it the most stylized visuals in a superhero film in a long time.

v – Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack from the film is utterly fantastic. As Batman approaches his enemies, the music transitions from distant and looming to stark and pounding, with each footstep spells as the ticking time bomb for the criminals of Gotham city. There is also some licensed soundtrack being used throughout its runtime, including Kurt Cobain’s Something in the Way. Even though the three core elements of every scene are the writing, visuals and performances, the music also plays a massive role in bringing the ‘impending doom’ to light.  

vi – While having only seen the film once, there are already some memorable scenes that shook me out of my seat, namely the Police station escape and the car chase scene. When it comes to unforgettable set pieces, Matt Reeves nearly knocked it out of the park.

vii – Although this has not to do with the content of the film, can we admire the brilliant print promotion of the film, namely the red and black poster? Fantastic, minimal art work.

+ Low Points

i – Although the film is fantastic in almost every conceivable way, there are some flaws that hinder its way in reaching its true potential. And one such hindrance can be directed towards the pacing of the film. Now, without any sense of exaggeration, the story is conveyed with a break neck speed (which is completely earned) but there were a couple of scenes that needed a breather in between, namely after the escape from the police station scene. The film did also lack at least one or two character building moments that would have made the narrative flow ever so slightly better and in the process, the suspense heavy scene even more impactful. I wish there could have been at least one or two more scenes of Bruce and Alfred interacting with one another, exploring the father/ son relationship that they share.

ii – Even though Kravitz as Catwoman is splendid in her own right, the romance between her and Batman felt clunky and at odds with one another. There was not enough romantic tension between them and I am not even sure why Bruce Wayne would fall for her of all people. But since the source material has a romantic relationship between them, so should the film I suppose. And I also felt that some of the comedic puns felt flat in the screen time they shared with jokes like ‘What? Do you live in a cave or something?’.

iii – The final Arkham Asylum scene (which I cannot elaborate more upon due to spoilers) felt very tacked on and unnecessary. Undoubtedly, this was perhaps a studio mandate in order to tease the audience for the future coming films but I sincerely hope that they do not follow in that direction as Batman has a wealth of villains who still have not made their debut onto the silver screen.

iv – Perhaps a fairly odd complaint but due to the dark visuals of the film, we hardly get to see any of the Batman gadgets that the caped crusader is known for. Because of the long dark shadows throughout its runtime, the suit, the batmobile, the bat cave get no wide angle shots to awe and admire at. In fact, I hardly even remember what they actually looked like!

+ Overall

From its visual and storytelling perspective, The Batman is an outstanding work of Art. And it stands tall as being one of the best superhero films ever made.

Rate: out of 5 stars