Ten years after his last solo outing, the legendary cape crusader has returned to our screens in a whole new universe. Ben Affleck, who played the dark knight in Batman v. Superman and Zack Snyder’s Justice League, has hung up his cape and Robert Pattinson is our new orphan vigilante. Out with the old, in with the new! So, is this new iteration worth it or necessary? Let’s find out in this spoiler-free review!
From the very first seconds of The Batman, the tone is set: Gotham is a filthy, crime-riddled city that’s corrupted to the bone. Democracy gives little hope to the people who have therefore resorted to violence to survive. Honest citizens struggle to live a decent life and constantly face dangers. It is within this grim context that our hero rises (literally) out of the shadows, hoping to bring change to his beloved city. Unfortunately, Batman is not the only one on a quest for change: fan-favourite villain Riddler has also emerged, and is hellbent on bringing some much-needed justice to a city built on lies and corruption.
Just like it is impossible to not compare Daniel Craig to Sean Connery or Roger Moore, it is hard not to think of other actors who have embodied Batman over the years when watching this new adaptation. Despite the initial negative reactions, with many fans seeing in him nothing more than the hottie from the Twilight series, Pattinson does a frankly spectacular job. His version of the character is far more focused on the Batman persona, with Bruce Wayne merely becoming a side-note in his journey to uncover the truth, and it’s a refreshing change! No fancy charity galas, no board meetings, just an emo-looking thirty-year old CEO who struggles to maintain his sanity. When it comes to action, this Batman doesn’t hold back, and I thank Matt Reeves for embracing a violent and raw approach when writing action scenes. Although there aren’t many in the film, they are all memorable and stunningly-shot. Everything, from the cinematography, lighting and editing helps establish Pattinson as a force not to be reckoned with, and his performance is nothing short of spectacular.
But he is not the only one who shines as all the actors deliver incredible and memorable performances. On the hero side, Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman is as charming and deadly as her predecessors while Jeffrey Wright gives us a great Jim Gordon that perfectly bounces off Pattinson’s cold demeanour. As for the baddies, Paul Dano delivers a stunning and disturbing act as the deranged Riddler who truly shines near the end of the film when he’s freed from the shackles of his mask, truly revealing his insane personality. Colin Farrell, unrecognisable as the Penguin under an amazing make-up work, is such a fun delight in this otherwise bleak film and that cameo in the final act, hinting at a beloved character’s appearance, is a great sign for future Batman films, especially considering the actor Matt Reeves has chosen to play this legendary part.
One cannot talk about The Batman without mentioning Michael Giacchino’s incredible soundtrack. From its very first second, the music perfectly sets the score for what’s to come. Tracks like It’s Raining Vengeance, The Batman, All’s Well That Ends Farewell, Catwoman or Sonata in Darkness are simply phenomenal, and even rival Hans Zimmer’s work on the Nolan trilogy. After his disappointing work on Doctor Strange and Spider-Man: No Way Home, it’s nice (and admittedly reassuring) to see Giacchino deliver a truly memorable soundtrack.
In the end, despite its somewhat scary 3-hour runtime (2h56min to be fully accurate) The Batman is a film that never feels out of breath. It is a great detective story that will fully immerse you in this new gritty universe, a mature and violent take on the cape crusader that brings new and interesting dilemmas to a character we’ve seen done a hundred times. So do yourself a favour and go see The Batman on the biggest screen you can find!