My significant other was in charge of getting these tickets for us on opening night. He chose an 11:45 PM showing. For a nearly 3 hour film. On a day that I worked. My faith that I would stay awake for the entire film was low. But, I was wrong. I was dead wrong. I was awake and enthralled for the full two hours and fifty-five minutes. And I loved every single minute of it.
Let’s start with the fact that this is the first time we get to see this iteration of Bruce Wayne on the big screen. We always see Wayne once he’s this super successful playboy. We sometimes see his training period. We’ve even gotten to see older Bruce Wayne. What we haven’t seen on the big screen is the “my parents are dead and I hate everything” phase of Wayne. Robert Pattinson’s interpretation of Bruce Wayne is that Wayne took the death of his parents and made that his whole personality. He is a moody, late twenty something year old, who has yet to have his reality of his parents shattered. And, I liked that they touched on that. Bruce Wayne discovers that his parents weren’t these picture perfect people that he always thought they were. I think every single person can relate to that. There’s a point for all of us when we realize “oh. My parents are just people, too. They make mistakes and can do bad things.”
Director Matt Reeves does a wonderful job using old, gritty detective film noirs as inspiration, as well as using specific comic runs and tweaking them slightly. Comic runs like Batman: Year One, Batman: Ego, and Batman: The Long Halloween are clear inspirations for not only the plot of this film, but for the look of the film overall. The way Reeves plays with light throughout the film makes that very clear. The Batman is, at its core, a very low-tech, dark psychological mystery. And, Matt Reeves shows that the “big budget superhero film” can also be beautiful and artistic.
The performances that Reeves gets from all of his actors helps to pull us into the film that much more. Colin Farrell’s performance as Oz/The Penguin was the most remarkable performance, honestly. The only way I could even manage to pull myself out of his performance was when I focused on his eyes.
Robert Pattinson gave us a hell of a performance as Batman, showing us a Bruce Wayne we haven’t seen before. Showing us a Bruce Wayne that definitely had to have existed. Believe me, I am just as shocked as you are that I just wrote that. If I remember right, I was very much against Pattinson as Batman when it was first announced. I couldn’t picture it at all. I’m glad to admit that I was, in fact, wrong. Moving on.
Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle was solid. I definitely picked up on the bisexual vibe her character was putting down, and I do wish they would have made it a little clearer. (One of these days, one of the films will have the guts to just go for it. Maybe one with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. We’ll see.) Kravitz’s movements were spot on, very feline-like. In particular, the way her hips moved when she walked was very catlike.
Paul Dano was perfectly creepy as The Riddler. Clear inspiration for this interpretation of the character came from the Zodiac Killer, which I thought was a nice touch and a great route to take that character. His interaction with the Unseen Arkham Prisoner was solid, as well. Never expliciting stating who the prisoner was helped that interaction to feel less forced, and ultimately led me to like the inclusion of that scene in the film.
The performances of Andy Serkis (Alfred), John Turturro (Carmine Falcone), and Jeffrey Wright (Lt. James Gordon) were others that I lost the actor’s in. It was so refreshing to watch a movie where I didn’t once get hung up on the question “where do I know them from?”, which is huge for me, honestly. And, I think that says a tremendous amount about all of the actor’s performances, from those with the most screen time to those with the least.
Let’s talk music. The inclusion of an actual song in the film threw me off at first. By the end of the film, I was all for it. The Batman features the song “Something in the Way” by Nirvana in both the beginning and end of the film. This was an awfully bold move by Reeves, as these films usually don’t include anything but the musical score. However, both Reeves and Pattinson have cited Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain as inspiration for this Bruce Wayne, which is completely believable and makes the song make sense. It’s the tone this Bruce Wayne is taking.
As far as film scores go, Michael Giacchino continues to show why he’s one of my favorite film composers. He really put everything that he’s got into this score. For lack of a better phrase, this score goes so hard. It perfectly sets the tone of the film and enhances all the emotions being felt by those watching. Just listen to the theme from the film, and tell me it doesn’t get you hyped up. I dare you.
The Batman, which is proving to be a powerhouse at the box-office (by both pandemic standards and pre-pandemic standards, which is truly impressive), doesn’t feel like other superhero films. The Batman truly feels like a psychological thriller, where we get a glimpse into the psyche of, not only Bruce Wayne, but the villains around Wayne, as well. The film can easily be classified as a neo-noir as it possesses so many of the markers: narration (beginning and end), lighting, subject matter (corruption, crime syndicates), the color palette. It’s all there. So, don’t let the run time of the film intimidate you. I promise, you’ll stay awake the whole time. I’m already planning my second trip to the theater and I can’t wait.