Movie Review: The Batman (2022)

The Batman (dir. Matt Reeves, 2022) – When a sadistic killer begins to murder key political figures in Gotham, the Batman steps in, only to uncover a larger ploy against the city.

3/5

It is a constant stagger back to square one for the DC Cinematic Universe as the studio introduces its 3rd major iteration of the caped crusader in just under two decades. There seems a reluctance to move past its tried and tested characters, even as Marvel races past and starts dipping into its backlog – to resounding success for the most part.

So we get The Batman. Again. Albeit this time, there is a promising director at helm. Matt Reeves’ take falls somewhere between his recent predecessors, grounded in its world-building and villainy, balanced with a tonality suited to its comic book origins. It fits Gotham well enough. His film noir influences hold merit, picking up where Darren Aronofsky’s Year One project fell through years ago.

Skipping past the Wayne family tragedy, Bruce (Robert Pattinson) marches right into the middle of an investigation in the corrupt city. He has clearly been at the job for some time. Lt. Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) allows him into the violent crime scene, leveraging the vigilante to the quiet protests of his colleagues. Batman quickly homes in on the riddle that leads them down a dangerous rabbit hole.

Riddler in The Batman
Left a message on the tape.

The obvious echoes of Zodiac and Se7en work well to the advantage of the film’s realism and its villain’s introduction, building up the Riddler (Paul Dano) into something much more than what we have ever seen in the best possible way. This is no rehash of its former incarnations. The psychopath’s puzzles, darkly comic at first, become increasingly unsettling and convincingly so. There is a constant sense of dread as his instability heightens towards an inevitable boiling point.

He isn’t the only threat as other notorious figures lurk in the shadows. Oswald Cobblepot (Colin Farrell) makes his odd prosthetic-heavy appearance that is both impressive and admittedly unnecessary. Either way, he is quite a character. Farrell appears to have great fun with the Penguin as the audience would. His plot also serves to bolster the backstory of Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz), who is thankfully neither an afterthought nor perfunctory fan service. Instead, she gets to earn the suit and grow into her eventual moniker.

The Bat and the Cat in the Batman
Claw and order.

Here comes the problem when the sideshows largely outshine the mainstay. Bruce Wayne, seemingly impenetrable by bullets or bombs, feels contrary to the film’s grounded tone hitherto. He also loses much of his usual charm as he gains vulnerability in his emotions. So much for the playboy billionaire schtick, which has gone out the window in favour of a moody young man. While doubtlessly an interesting take that turns a few heads, the wallowing soon ends up a drag.

Even if Robert Pattinson does a serviceable job, he is definitely capable of more than drowning in misery, as we have seen in his recent filmography. If only the screenplay would allow him to quit taking his anger out on poor Alfred (Andy Serkis). With a runtime of nearly 3 hours, it is difficult not to lose patience with the sad knight. More swinging off buildings to dramatic rescues, less journalling to an overspun Nirvana record, please.

The Batman
Some hair in the way. (Sorry)

Besides, there is very little payoff in this personality rewrite. No matter the starting point, we end up with the same tale of his becoming – a tortured vigilante learning to overcome his trauma and use his fears to fight for the good of the city. Ultimately, it just feels like an odd decision to reboot the franchise only to end up at the same place, especially when other Justice League headliners get to move forward and expand on their respective universes.

What a shame to see DCCU held back by an aversion to risks. It must be time already to dig deeper into its vault of lesser-known heroes. And if we were to return to the Batman lore again, might I just beg to let someone else out of Arkham Asylum. Give Mad Hatter a shot, or bring Pyg into the murderous game. Gotham knows we hardly need another Joker in the midst, no matter how enticing the tease, when there are so many other stories to unfold.


The grim retelling of the Batman tale edges closer to dreary than inventive but remains gripping thanks to its rogues.

The Batman is now in theatres.

Trailer

9 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Batman (2022)

  1. The villains were really the showstoppers in The Batman weren’t they? I enjoyed Matt Reeves take on the Batman, the visual noir style and focus on the Dark Knights Detective skills were a nice change from the norm. I also though Pattinson was pretty good as Wayne / Batman, although the chemistry with Catwoman felt a bit flat. Although Burton’s Batman (1989) remains my favourite, I still enjoyed The Batman a lot, I just hope they take a few more risks with the direction of the film and the character (rather than just the aesthetics) with the inevitable sequel.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for sharing, Paul! I absolutely agree with you, the stylistic choices were definitely the film’s strengths. I do wish the franchise would have a clearer direction from here on. Side note – the aesthetics gave off Batman Beyond vibes and I’m kinda disappointed that a live-action adaptation hasn’t happened yet!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. It was certainly the cinematic style that really made the film work so well I think. I’m hoping we see a more defined story and direction moving forward though. There’s certainly a wealth of potential that could be explored. Yes, I agree, there was indeed a bit of a Batman Beyond vibe to some scenes. I keep hoping they will do a live action Batman Beyond movie at some point as well, that would be so cool!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the review Jade. I’ve seen reviews ranging from middle of the road to the upper level of pretty good. Having never been a fan of the previous Batman movies, for some reason this one intrigued me and I looked forward to the release. But with the reviews, and my past experiences, I wonder if I’d enjoy it. What’s your take on someone that hasn’t cared much for the previous ones? Is this different enough I might like it? Or more of the same?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Tony! I do think it’s possible to enjoy it as a standalone crime thriller, even if you aren’t into the Batman movies. Matt Reeves’ take is interesting and grounded for the most part, and it really works well on the villains’ front. My main gripes with the movie had much to do with its relation to the franchise as a whole. That and well, the 3-hour runtime!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Caught this by accident on HBO last week. That might be the fastest new film to cable showing I can recall. It was fine overall, but not really for kids or those expecting light entertainment. As for the runtime, I’m in the process of watching Once Upon a Time in the West, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and 2001: A Space Odyssey, so it really didn’t bug me too much. That said, I missed the first 10 minutes and had to re-watch a second time. I’d have had Bruce listening to The Cure or Joy Division over Nirvana, but oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

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