I always get a little self-conscious about the big tentpole films, mainly because every other platform’s reviewed them and I’m usually on the last minute train catching up on either VOD or streaming.
It is interesting, however, to see the reactions coming out on social media following the HBO Max release of The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz. Indeed, not every film is everyone’s cup of tea, although it is fascinating that some people didn’t enjoy this latest chapter from Warner Bros. Pictures’ DC adaptations as much as other folks like myself did.
I think every film based on this property has been good, to their own degrees. Some have a stylish, albeit campy, comic book-ish flair like the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher-directed affairs of the 80s and 90s. Others have a much more visually leaner, socially-toned take like with director Christopher Nolan’s films, and even Zack Snyder managed to flesh out some of the best we’ve seen from the title character with Ben Affleck donning the cape and cowl, even among a grand superhero ensemble at that.
Going into The Batman, Reeves accomplishes multiple aspects of these films without wandering off-road. Sure, there’s always the concern with analyzing these kinds of films despite lacking any real familiarity with the comic books (most of my education largely stems from movies and television since I wasn’t much of an avid comic collector), although I’d like to trust and believe in what the director is doing with the materials at hand. I haven’t seen much backlash on its handling, though I’m curious to see what the comments will say on this post, if any.
At any rate, for those who enjoyed The Batman, you have to hand it to Reeves here. His adaptive approach to Paul Dano’s The Riddler as the fulcrum driving the story’s tension-building and development with others of Batman’s cadre of villains such as John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone and Colin Farrell’s Ozwald Cobblepot (a.k.a. The Penguin), combined with an edgy, brooding allure that provides a palatable backdrop to support this latest offering of the Dark Knight in his second year of fighting crime, and you get the kind of story that you probably didn’t expect, but it’s still delightful nonetheless.
There are some major twists in this story that I never saw get explored in previous films, and again, I reckon the comics explain these a bit more. To that end, it speaks highly of what Reeves was going for with The Batman, a near three-hour journey into a comic book movie about a singular hero that revisits a lot of what some of us have already seen on ink and probably on screen, and yet still manages to accomplish what probably felt like the improbable back when this was Affleck’s movie before it wasn’t – given the time it took to even make it happen at all.
I have to cap this off here with a point on the action. It can’t be said enough that we still have to be aware that some studios still won’t care and would rather continue shaking the damn camera and using weird, ineffective angles thinking they’re doing something for the audience. Not WB in this instance though, and most certainly not Reeves. The cinematography is some of the most splendid and complimentary to much of the fight action we see on screen from Pattinson and Kravitz opposite many of the stunt players involved in this project, and only adds to the entertainment of seeing Reeves’ work.
I would also like to think that The Batman is the kind of film that would normally be a sequel if we would have been allowed a ‘Year One’ movie. I would have been fine with that, although it’s understandable if the studio felt that fans wouldn’t have been patient enough and certainly, some fans I’ve traded blurbs with are over the whole ‘origin movie’ craze since the last 10+ years of MCU fanfare.
To add, I can see why The Batman was necessary. Expect a cautionary tale about a world that mankind creates for itself – a world without on the edge of losing hope – with Gotham as the central experiment. Pattinson’s portrayal of the title superhero lends credibly to its legacy on top of the writing, design and overall delivery, along with Kravitz’s on screen caliber as the anti-heroine Selina Kyle.
Filmed during one of the worst moments in our global history as the Covid-19 pandemic set up camp, I would like to think the year 2020 co-signs as an omnious reminder to help us reflect a little more on our role in this little journey of life. That’s what this film does for me, anyway, on top of serving up one of the most impactful, and thrilling comic book movie events ever made. It may not be The Batman movie some may have wanted for one reason or another, but in my view, it is the movie we needed, and not for nothing either – the next helmer in charge of adapting this property for the big screen definitely has their work cut out.
The Batman is now playing in select theaters, and is currently streaming on HBO Max.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.