The Batman spoiler free review
The Batman is the definitive Batman movie. I've never really felt like any Batman series or film has truly fully understood the character until now, so far the best Batman interpretation we've had has been in the Arkham games. Matt Reeves seems to get everything that makes the character so great, so many times Batman has been this one dimensional character (yes even in the Nolan series) who could easily just be swapped out for any other vigilante superhero. That's not to say there's never been a good Batman movie or portrayal (the majority of them are very good), it's just that there's never been one that fully nails every aspect of the comic book Batman.
For the first time ever we get a Batman who actually is the world's greatest detective. Yes there was the montage in Batman V Superman in which he's tracking down the kryptonite shipment and yes there's the scene in The Dark Knight in which he has to track down the Joker using the detective lenses, they were fine but neither felt like anything that required any actual thought. The Batman is first and foremost a detective movie and it fully pays off. Usually in a Batman movie he'll do about 10 minutes of brooding over a computer screen until Alfred solves everything for him at which point he dons the Batsuit and beats the villain to a pulp. But in this movie significantly more time is spent walking around crime scenes and solving riddles than anything else which might sound boring but it makes for a genuinely interesting plot with much more depth than any Batman film previously. If you've seen movies like Se7en and Zodiac you'll feel right at home with this one. At no point does The Batman feel like it's just trying desperately to build up to a massive showdown on a moving train or exploding city, and I get that every superhero movie has to build up to some sort of confrontation but in this case the confrontation serves the plot rather than the other way around. Essentially what I'm saying is that it feels like Matt Reeves and his team of writers spent years scouring through the best Batman comic books and real life serial killer cases in an attempt to build an organic and meaningful plot around the character. If you were a fan of Logan turning the comic book genre on it's head you'll likely be an even bigger fan of The Batman.
Maybe you've just read that and thought "hey I don't like detective movies maybe I won't bother with 3 hours of detective work" but don't rule it out just yet. There's also the classic action side of things. The fight scenes are so well crafted, think Daredevil, think John Wick, think Batman V Superman warehouse scene. Aside from the infamous BvS warehouse scene I've never really been a fan of how Batman fight scenes look, they've always looked a bit like he's weighed down or struggling to move and I get that that's more down to the way the suits are made than anything else but it's still an issue. In this one Batman is an absolute tank (to a point), nobody that he fights is a real threat to him which is exactly how it should be when a guy who has trained for his whole life fights a bunch of lowlife dropheads (that's what this movie calls what are essentially crack addicts) while wearing a bullet proof suit of armour. Catwoman gets a couple of good little fight scenes too, and they're exactly what you would expect. If you want an all out action movie you might be a little disappointed but there is some great action to be found here.
Every character earns their place in the movie, that sounds stupid and obvious but hear me out. Comic book movies are notorious for shoe-horning in as many characters as they can in the name of fan service (just look at the weekly Doctor Strange leaks), but that's not the case here. Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), the Penguin (Colin Farrell), and the Riddler (Paul Dano) are all excellent villains in their own way and all three of them absolutely service the plot in the best ways. Without spoiling it I can't really go much further into it but every antagonist is compelling and impeccably well acted as well. Speaking of Paul Dano's Riddler, he kills it, he's definitely the best Batman villain since Heath Ledger's joker (maybe even better). Jim Gordon, Catwoman, and Alfred are perfectly integrated too, none of them overshadow Batman but all of them perfectly compliment the different aspects of the character. Jim Gordon works with detective Batman, Catwoman works with classic vigilante Batman, and Alfred works with Bruce Wayne. Every character is integrated organically completely in service of the plot, nobody is there just to please fans.
On to the most important part. Is Robert Pattinson any good? Yes. I can see him becoming an absolute fan favourite. He nails the Batman voice too, no more weird growling. He doesn't spend all that much time as Bruce Wayne, about 85% of his screentime is in the Batsuit, and there is definitely a distinction between the two. Bruce Wayne and Batman are almost two separate characters and it's a great take on the character, there's a definite conflict between Bruce Wayne and Batman. We finally get a good look at what being Batman does to a person, Bruce Wayne is a bit of a crumbling mess (mentally), and a lot of that comes from the performance rather than the writing. Nobody plays a slightly gross, greasy, weirdo better than Robert Pattinson (check out Good Time) and that's exactly what this film called for on the Bruce Wayne side of things.
There's so much to talk about here, The Batman is a huge movie but we're nearly done I promise.
The movie looks great. Maybe it's a bit too visually dark at times, the Batmobile scene was a bit too hard to follow due to the rain and darkness but it still looked great. There are some beautiful shots that are just waiting to become iconic. Gotham city is this gritty, part neon, gothic place and it's amazing, easily the best looking Gotham yet. The suit looks so great on film, as does the car (the muscle car take on the Batmobile is awesome), they both look like they're ripped straight from the page of a comic book. Every setting, every costume, every massive sweeping shot feel like they took years of planning. It would be criminal not to mention the bright red flare-lit flood scene, I mentioned it in "what's the deal with the Batman?" but I'll mention it again, that shot is amazing.
Maybe three hours is a bit long, definitely for casual moviegoers, but none of it feels like empty runtime. I tried to think of where they maybe could have trimmed it down but it already feels like a five hour movie trimmed to three. If you can't stomach a three hour Batman movie though I don't blame you, I really would encourage it though. It does definitely feel long but it really doesn't overstay it's welcome, there's just a lot to it. It's a properly weighty movie, which makes it really difficult to write a brief review.
The best thing about The Batman is that it's a movie first and a superhero movie second which is exactly how it should be done. The Batman easily earns itself a 10/10 and I still feel pretty confident in giving it top spot on my 2022 box office predictions list.