Batman has change into Bat-ubiquitous. Gotham’s protector is never far-off from the display; this 12 months alone, there may be the return of Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne, the cinematic debut of Batgirl, and the animated DC League Of Tremendous-Pets, which options Ace the Bat-hound, Batman’s pet canine. He’s in all places. An icon. The problem for The Batman’s writer-director Matt Reeves: tips on how to make a totemic, mythic determine of popular culture really feel new.
Reeves’ strategy, it appears, is evolution fairly than revolution. Comparisons with Christopher Nolan’s era-defining Batman trilogy are unavoidable — it shares Nolan’s critical, neo-noirish tone, and one set-piece is harking back to The Darkish Knight — however the distinction to, say, Batman Begins is that that is emphatically not an origin story. There’s, gratifyingly, no new recreation of Bruce Wayne’s mother and father being murdered. Like Spider-Man: Homecoming, that is ‘post-origins’: a superhero nonetheless in his early years, grappling with youthful naivety and what his masked identification really means.
Working together with his cinematographer Greig Fraser, Reeves has rendered maybe the very best display realisation of Gotham to this point.
So, in Robert Pattinson, we get a really completely different Bruce Wayne. The place Christian Bale and Ben Affleck embraced the macho aspect of the character, Pattinson seems to be like a boyish vampire, his pores and skin tone solely a shade hotter than in Twilight. His is the primary display Batman to be totally seen sporting the eyeshadow required of the character’s costume, which evokes Robert Smith from The Remedy. Within the swimsuit he’s methodical and muscular; out of it, he’s racked with insecurity and self-doubt. A repeated needle drop of Nirvana’s ‘One thing In The Manner’ confirms it: that is emo-Bats.
As a brand new course, it makes complete sense for this most brooding of superheroes. And although the humourlessness typically flirts with self-parody — Pattinson’s narration, delivered like Rorschach’s journal, grumbles primarily about vengeance, concern, justice, the standard stuff — the temper is justified by a believably darkish dangerous man. In a crowded rogues’ gallery (shout-outs to Zoë Kravitz’s immediately charismatic Catwoman and Colin Farrell’s bafflingly convincing prosthetic Penguin), that is the Riddler’s present, anchored by a chilling Paul Dano efficiency. He’s a bespectacled terrorist of the Trump period, pushed by an incel’s misplaced sense of injustice and a love of fiendish puzzles. (And latte foam artwork.)
Absolutely embracing the “world’s biggest detective” comics popularity that cinematic Batmen usually neglect, Reeves thus performs issues out like a twisty David Fincher-esque thriller. (A few of the Riddler’s clues might have been ripped from the pages of the Zodiac killer.) Sometimes the knottiness of the plotting will depart you feeling that near-three-hour runtime, however it’s by no means boring, the narrative propelled by a sequence of grisly conundrums by Gotham’s seedy underbelly.
What can even maintain your consideration is how stunning that underbelly seems to be. Working together with his cinematographer Greig Fraser, Reeves has rendered maybe the very best display realisation of Gotham to this point; strolling a cautious tightrope between gritty realism and heightened pulp (plenty of neon, plenty of rainfall) with out ever overplaying their arms. The result’s some outstanding movie craft, of a degree hardly ever seen in trendy blockbusters. Michael Giacchino’s sensible, minimalist rating completes the impact, constructing on the vastly efficient work of Hans Zimmer — evolution, then, fairly than revolution.