The Batman (2022)
The Batman (2022)

Genre: Crime Drama and Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 55 min.

Release Date: March 4th, 2022 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Matt Reeves Actors: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell, Andy Serkis, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard

 


 

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wo years have passed since Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) donned the mask of the “Batman” and became a crime-fighting vigilante of Gotham City. While the police distrust the caped crusader, save for Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), and the citizenry dismiss him, Wayne has learned that when it comes to battling the criminal underworld, fear is his strongest ally. But when a new terror sweeps across the city in the form of crazed serial killer “The Riddler,” Gordon calls upon Batman to aid him in solving the labyrinthine mystery behind the murderer’s identity and his politically influential victims. And when Batman eventually confronts the scarred henchman (Colin Farrell) of one of Gotham’s most powerful mobsters, Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), he gains an unlikely ally in burglar Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz). As the thief, the vigilante, and the police lieutenant steadily uncover the secrets behind the Riddler’s grand scheme, Batman soon realizes the madman’s machinations will hit closer to home than he could have possibly imagined.

It begins with “Ave Maria” nicely offsetting the dourness to come, as the premise quickly introduces horror movie designs – ranging from home invaders lurking in the background to bloody violence and nerve-jangling violin plucks. Here, Gotham is practically postapocalyptic, featuring roving gangs like in “The Warriors” (and “The Ultimate Warrior”), “Escape from New York,” and even “The Purge,” while also boasting pollution and urban density like in “Blade Runner” and “Doomsday.” This is a terribly grim vision of Batman’s stomping grounds.

As with Christopher Nolan’s series before it, this latest theatrical adaptation of the masked vigilante presents an even darker take, embracing an utmost seriousness and gloominess. In its efforts to be as morbidly realistic as possible – while still utilizing a conspicuously morally upright defender in a bat costume – the severity has grown almost disappointingly dismal. With the Riddler, long gone are the screwball-comedy hijinks and prancing about in gaudy leotards of Jim Carrey’s 1995 embodiment, now shaped to be a far more convincing psychopath, complete with “Saw” levels of torture-traps, Zodiac Killer cyphers, and extreme social-outcast radicalization. If he weren’t dubbed the Riddler in the course of the film, viewers might never know that he’s based on a classic Batman villain. It is, however, a creative reimagining, even if it’s virtually unrecognizable in the previous worlds of the famous superhero.

But this uncomfortable darkening of Batman’s enemies and environs extends further, turning the very limited action sequences into forgettable fare, sapping the excitement from watching the Dark Knight grapple with opponents. Curiously, when the bad guys are convincing serial killers, there isn’t much need for the flamboyant stylings of a martial artist in black leather. The mood has turned so cheerless that it feels as if a reworking of “The Crow”; even Alfred is more banged up and scarred than ever before. Where the update really shines, however, is with the Penguin, who appears like a Dick Tracy mobster given a “Sin City” treatment, maintaining a sensible ugliness without being a total mutant. But removing the over-the-top nature of these personas in favor of modernized grotesqueries surrounded by a milieu of politics, corruption, sex, drugs, and overbearing criminality isn’t a recipe for action-packed adventure. “The Batman” is a considerable overhaul, transforming the titular character into a rather standard flatfoot digging into the intermittently uneventful mysteries of the gangster underworld.

The original source material may not be placeable under all the layers of murkiness and dread (save for Kravitz’ Catwoman, who might be one of the best of the bunch), but that certainly helps dismiss Pattinson’s baggage from the “Twilight” series. Thankfully, he doesn’t grunt all of his lines, nor is he forced to waste time suggesting that Wayne is a spoiled playboy (in fact, the film doesn’t spend much time at all with his origin story). A few scenes have appropriate bite to them (even with all the rain, shadows, and general lightlessness), blending the likes of “True Detective” with hints of “The Silence of the Lambs,” but one has to wonder if this new interpretation of an unsettling murder-mystery is a better concept than Tim Burton’s more energetic brand of bleak weirdness. This just might be for diehard fans alone; less faithful viewers will surely wonder what has happened to all of the standard exhilaration and the general sense of fun. By the end, the most unfortunate realization is that with its utterly unnecessary, plodding three-hour runtime, paired with a direction of crime-drama rather than superhero-action, the rewatch value is virtually nonexistent – something rarely said of the prior entries in the Batman franchise.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10


The Batman Franchise


Batman: The Movie (1966)

Batman (1989)

Batman Returns (1992)

Batman Forever (1995)

Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman Begins (2005)

The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Batman (2022)