The Batman arrives in cinemas nationwide on Friday 4th, March.
After five years, Matt Reeves’ take on the iconic DC detective is here with The Batman, and its possibly the most anticipated interpretation since Christopher Nolan’s lauded trilogy due to Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz as The Bat and The Cat and Paul Dano and Colin Farrell as two of Gotham’s most malevolent menaces, The Penguin and The Riddler. Reeves promised a considerably different take from Nolan’s that would return to the Bat’s gothic, gruelling and grim roots. So, has he delivered on that promise?
Reeves cherry-picks from several comic runs, including Zero Year and Year One, introducing us to the caped crusader on his second year in Gotham. His presence is fearfully felt throughout every criminal in Gotham, as shadowed doorways and silent alleyways strike fear in the hearts of petty thieves and hoodlums when the Bat signal lights up the sky. Reeves masterfully captures his chilling agitation as a tool in his holster to manipulate Gotham, a trait that echoes the Arkham games. He doesn’t feel like a superhero, but a monster in the night, lurking and waiting in the shadows like a predator stalking its prey. It doesn’t just put fear into Gotham’s underbelly but equally makes your heart race as Greig Fraser’s camera rests on an infinitely-black corridor, as you wonder if The Batman is just beyond your sight.
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This is a Gotham you haven’t seen before, its sprawling decay and hostility similar to the unforgiving streets of 1970s New York. In Reeves’ Gotham, you have to keep moving lest the city devour you whole. Here we have a rotting corpse of a metropolis embalmed with corruption as the rain pummels the pavements and neon signs light up the dark streets. Much of The Batman takes place at night, allowing Fraser to play with deep, rich contrasts. By amalgamating Liverpool, Glasgow, London and Chicago into their composite, Gotham’s corruption and widespread immorality feel both sleekly modern and frightfully ancient, its stained marble and mighty stone columns supporting the villainy of a corrupt elite.
(L-R) ZOË KRAVITZ as Selina Kyle and ROBERT PATTINSON. Warner Bros. Pictures action adventure “THE BATMAN,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is unlike any you’ve ever seen before. He is grungy and broody, with a death wish fed by his night-time vigilantism. He has become elusive, making his few appearances remarkably noteworthy. Pattinson’s interpretation of Wayne and Batman extracts the fractured psyche through childhood trauma, placing the impetus for his ‘Gotham Project’ in a fractured existence. Here he acts not in pursuit of Gotham’s salvation but in the pent-up release of his aggression and pain. What Pattinson makes thoroughly clear is this is not the Batman you know – not yet.
Meanwhile, Dano’s Riddler is a blood-curdling take on the character, a fusion of the Zodiac Killer and the comic-book villain we have come to know. The Riddler is an unsettling creature of the night, surprisingly similar to Wayne’s Batman. Here Riddler’s ambitions align with Ted Kaczynski’s Unabomber and Saw’s Jigsaw as he creates a series of brutally macabre traps, each witnessed through different lenses from low-quality CCTV cameras to choppy videos filmed by Riddler himself. There’s a constant cat-and-mouse game at the heart of Riddler and Batman’s relationship, as Bruce is forced to play along to decode Riddler’s plan.
ROBERT PATTINSON as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “THE BATMAN,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Reeves Batman and Riddler are two sides of the same coin, both attempting to oust corruption from their beloved city through fear and focused violence. Dano’s performance as the Machiavellian Prince of Puzzles is psychotically unhinged, with unpredictable screams and grunts in the middle of highly tense speeches or unexpected bouts of gut-busting laughter that cut through you like a knife through butter. What’s so blood-curdling about this Riddler is that he is calculatedly unpredictable, a walking paradox. Somehow the man with a constant plan feels as though he could completely delineate from it at any moment.
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Reeves has clearly taken inspiration from the last five years of American politics by folding them into the world of The Batman. For example, Dano’s Riddler ensnares a host of white, outcast men into his web of conspiracy building an army of self-appointed incels, alpha males and politicised outcasts through the rhetoric of hatred and revolutionary change. Here Riddler is a terrifying reflection of what an alt-right figure could achieve.
Despite the distinct dehumanisation of Riddler during his city-wide games, there’s a moment where he becomes uncomfortably human, thanking his followers through a video shared on a dark web server with a genuine heartfelt warmth that completely contradicts everything we’ve seen of him until now – it feels all too similar to figures we still have today. It’s a sobering reminder that Riddler is more than just a villain; to him, he is Gotham’s revolutionary, ripping up the roots of corruption that have infected the city – just like a similar caped crusader.
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The Batman does the impossible: it surpasses the epic magnitude of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Simply put, it is the best Batman we have seen so far. It is magnificently spectacular in its medieval metropolis, delving into the jet-black darkness of Batman’s world in a way that harks back to the bleak landscape of David Fincher’s Seven. Craig Fraser’s visual encapsulation of Gotham is award-worthy as its rich cinematics recall the broody detective noirs of the 1950s and the repugnant decaying thrillers of the 90s and 00s.
Pattinson’s Batman brings the character to life like no other has, delivering a masterful dissection of Bruce Wayne and exhibiting the darkness inherent in what it means to be Batman. Matt Reeves has crafted an extraordinarily dazzling thriller that keeps your mind and heart pounding. The Batman is the world’s greatest detective story and will go down as one of the decade’s best films.
Pattinson’s Batman brings the character to life like no other has, delivering a masterful dissection of Bruce Wayne and exhibiting the darkness inherent in what it means to be Batman. Matt Reeves has crafted an extraordinarily dazzling thriller that keeps your mind and heart pounding.