After over a decade of mediocrity and dwindling returns, Batman v Superman and Justice League chief among them, director Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes) has finally injected some life back into the franchise.
Robert Pattinson stars as the titular character in a batman film that harkens back to the dark and moody feel of the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Thankfully it skips the backstory that’s been done to death, this time the focus is on Batman playing detective. There has been a series of murders targeting Gotham City’s elite with a riddle for the bat left at every scene. With every riddle Bruce Wayne slowly uncovers a dark and grim web of gangsters, crime and corruption with potentially devastating consequences.
This ominous detective tale is gripping but you better hunker down, it’s 3 hours long and at times the foreboding sense of gloom gets too much. But sit through this and you’re treated to a cleverly woven tale, not too dissimilar to Se7en, with a maniacal Riddler played superbly by Paul Dano (Looper). One that packs plenty of brutal and visceral action, especially at the climax, and even in the car chases, fist fights and shootouts the gritty and bleak tone is maintained.
Colin Farrell is in his element as Penguin, a wise cracking career criminal that looks, sounds and acts like a gangster from a Martin Scorsese flick. Catwoman (a sparky Zoe Kravitz) bumps into the bat and the two, despite different agendas, team up to solve the puzzle and take down the Riddler. Andy Serkis is a rougher, tougher and gruffer version of Bruce’s butler Alfred – a devoted but reluctant father figure.
As for the main character Robert Pattinson is great, he plays an emotionally charged, angry and determined Bat. His emo batman doesn’t breeze through enemy goons like they are not there, the fights are real and bruising. Aggression, inner turmoil and an apparent allergy to happiness fuel him and by the films end you can see his development as a person.
The Batman is a dark crime thriller, with a cleverly woven detective story and some brutal action. It’s a grounded and gritty film that nicely tees up more. Alas the gloomy sense of foreboding, and it’s bum aching runtime are oppressive and sap some enjoyment out of things.