Editor Aron MacRaghallaigh critiques the newly-released Batman movie.
In his nearly Eighty Years of Onscreen Adaptions, DC Comic’s Batman has been many things.
In 1960s he was the campy Bright Knight of the Adam West era which was followed by the Gothic Knight of the Michael Keaton Era in the late 80s to early 90s and that was followed by the Neon Knights of Val Kilmar and George Clooney, an era which nearly destroyed the franchise but was thankfully resurrected by Christian Bale’s Post 9/11 Dark Knight only for the whole series to be once again be put at risked again because of Ben Affleck’s poorly written, although admirably acted, Martha Knight as seen in 2016’s “Batman V Superman”.
But the one manner that the character hasn’t been seen on screen is probably his most famous comic trait, that of the “World’s Greatest Detective” but luckily filmmaker Matt Reeves and the current actor who wears the famous cowl, Robert Pattinson have set forth and show the wider world the gritty film noir inspired detective that we comic readers have known about since the character’s inception in 1938.
And they pull it off.
Reeves having been a reader of the comics since he was a boy knows the character inside and out and shows an in dept understanding of the character and the world around him that I felt that some of the previous Bat-Filmmakers failed to show or understand. He puts his Batman on a character arc that teaches the wider audience that the character isn’t a Knight for Vengeance and Justice, but rather a Symbol of Hope and the Belief that Change Can Happen, that he doesn’t just save the city or the citzen
but that he also saves the villain from themselves as well.
Reeves also wisely makes sure that his version of Gotham is a character in of itself, giving an identity that is a dark, rusty, rainy cesspool of humanity’s most dark nature that is reflective in its mixture of modern skyscrapers and penthouse apartments that the corrupt live in along side crumbling gothic buildings that the poor live in like slums.
For the first time since the Burton films, Gotham feels alive on
screen. Pattinson also shows off his impressive talent, a level of talent that has been an open secret in the indie film community ever since he walked away from his last Blockbuster ten years ago. But now he has returned to the world of the Blockbuster while still retaining his indie sensibilities which results in him giving the most realistic Bruce Wayne/Batman that has been brought to the screen, his Bruce is depressed, self destructive and only seems comfortable when going out as Batman, but still shows signs of likeability especially towards the end of the film.
Meanwhile Paul Dano gives the best performance of a Batman villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker through his Zodiac Killer inspired Riddler who brings the character into straight up horror territory in some sequences in the film. His Riddler can also be seen as an allegory of the current issues surrounding the Q Anon movement as well.
Behind the camera, D.O.P. Grieig Fraser truly brings the darkness of this world to the screen, perhaps too dark for some scenes, but otherwise the majority of scenes he lights are a work of beauty, perhaps giving us the most beautifully shot Bat Film in the history of the franchise.
The movie runs at almost three hours long, but honestly it doesn’t feel that way, this film has, what seems to be a rarity these days, of the effect of pulling the audience in and loosing themselves in the plot and its world.
There has been some criticism from the wider press, including a bizarre review where the reviewer gave this film a negative score just because this Batman doesn’t smile, that this world is too dark for its own good and that it could be accused of being too self indulgent at times like the Snyder Films. But I say nonsense, there is darkness in this film no doubt, but the overall message of the film, especially in the third act, that although there maybe dark nights, its usually followed by brighter mornings ahead.
This film is supposed to kick off its own cinematic universe, dubbed the Bat-Verse and if they managed to keep up the quality of this film to its future projects, then it will be a very Bright future for everyone’s favourite Dark Knight.