Review: New Batman Movie Is Classic Dark Thriller With Catwoman Riding Shotgun

The Batman & Catwoman

“The Batman” has more twists and turns than a roller coaster with an action-packed reimagining of Catwoman and The Riddler.

By Chris “Boogie” Brown

“The Batman” is the latest Warner Brothers superhero film based on the wildly popular DC character of the same name.  While the character has been most recently presented on the big screen by filmmakers Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder, for this outing, Director Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”, “Dawn of the Planet of The Apes”, “War of the Planet of the Apes”) takes the reigns with his own unique take on the World’s Greatest Detective.

For this latest cinematic interpretation of the character, “The Batman” stars Robert Pattison in the lead role of Bruce Wayne, a reclusive billionaire by day, and Batman, a vigilante detective by night. Using his array of skills and resources, Batman is compelled to seek both vengeance and revenge against the criminal figures wreaking chaos and havoc in Gotham City.

As Batman stalks the crime-ridden streets of Gotham, a new sinister threat emerges, one with serial killer-like motives that take aim at prominent figures and officials in Gotham. As this threat purposely leaves both puzzling and ambiguous clues pointing to his underlying motives, it causes Batman to delve deep into the underbelly of Gotham to investigate this mysterious figure to stop to him. Batman’s layered investigation not only brings him amongst shadowy characters in the criminal underworld, but it slowly unravels a trail of surprising corruption at the highest levels that Batman must come to grips with and face head-on.

“The Batman” is a brilliantly conceived film with amazing production values that will captivate you with its engrossing story. Matt Reeves directs this stylishly dark tale with a slow burn, a character-driven approach that harkens back to the classic Detective Noir Thrillers of the ’70s. While the film never deviates from being a tension-filled mystery at its core, Reeves skillfully blends in elements of horror, intrigue, and visceral action sequences that explode on the screen depicting the burning rage in this interpretation of Batman.

While not exactly an origin film, “The Batman” features a version of the character that is only two years into his vigilante quest to combat the ills of society by bringing vengeance to those criminals that violate the law. As Matt Reeves heavily explores the psychological aspects of Batman, we’re shown that his seething rage stems from the emotional trauma of his past that he struggles to compartmentalize within.

Throughout the film, we witness Batman’s rage being further exacerbated by the latest threat to Gotham known as “The Riddler”.  Able to match wits and seemingly stay two steps ahead of Batman as he investigates him, The Riddler proves to be an extremely formidable foe that also causes Batman to face the dark secrets of his own past. The emotional duality of Batman and The Riddler that Matt Reeves presents is riveting cinema that will leave you in awe to say the least.  While I won’t delve into any intricacies of the plot, rest assured, this film will immerse you in this world as we witness Batman amass and assemble the clues necessary to stop The Riddler’s reign of terror.
Outside of the captivating story, another aspect that makes “The Batman” work so well is the amazing performances by the all-star cast that Matt Reeves has assembled. The acting is top-notch and so nuanced that even scenes of mere dialogue or intense conversations can carry the emotional weight of a powerful action sequence due to every actor bringing their A-Game here.

In the lead role of “Bruce Wayne”/”Batman”, Robert Pattison proves his mettle by giving an intense and riveting performance complete with classic Batman brooding, grounded realism, emotion, and the physicality necessary to handle the film’s action. While some have questioned whether Pattison could handle the film’s action believably, he completely rises to the occasion under Reeves’s sharp direction. His Batman’s fighting style is equal parts agile, tactical, and calculated but always aggressive and violent. As Batman’s antagonist, Paul Dano portrays “The Riddler” with a completely mesmerizing performance that will seize your attention from his first moment on screen. The Riddler’s ominous presence, cryptic motives, and cerebral mind games are all eerily executed thanks to the phenomenal performance Paul Dano gives here.

The Riddler defiles The Batman's new character posters | Digital Trends

Additionally, Andy Serkis shines as “Alfred Pennyworth”, a father figure and mentor to Bruce Wayne that gives him his moral compass. Jeffrey Wright gives a wonderful portrayal as the hardnosed “LT. James Gordon”, a trusted GCPD confidant of Batman that investigates alongside him. Zoe Kravitz is incredible on-screen as “Selina Kyle”, a mysterious character who has her own personal motives for collaborating with Batman.  John Turturro is also excellent as Crime Boss “Carmine Falcone” as is Colin Farrell who is completely unrecognizable as “Oswald Cobblepot”. Cobblepot, a Falcone soldier, is another character that DC fans will recognize as eventually going on to become a central villain in Batman’s famed “Rogues Gallery”.

As far as the direction of the film, Matt Reeves skillfully helms this captivating tale with precision and paces it so efficiently that the 3 Hour Runtime seems to fly right by. As Reeves takes us deep into the underworld of Gotham, he captures every detail of the dark and grimy landscape with a level of realism that brings the city to life and makes it an additional character of the film. Additionally, Reeves doesn’t compromise the film’s tone or detective-driven plot with superficial thrills just for thrill’s sake.  Every moment of tension, conflict, or action truly feels like an organic byproduct of the story’s natural progression. From a purely visual perspective, the film is absolutely stunning to watch thanks to the gorgeous cinematography handled by Greig Frasier. Frasier, who also served as the cinematographer on 2016’s “Star Wars: Rogue One”, and 2021’s “Dune”, applies his incredible pedigree here which results in one remarkably beautiful film.

Lastly, though the plot-driven mystery remains the film’s central theme throughout, “The Batman” contains several explosive action sequences that are incredible to witness. From thrilling chases & escapes, fiery explosions and spectacle, to hard-hitting hand-to-hand combat, this film certainly delivers the action-oriented moments that fans would come to expect from a Batman film. All of these amazing aspects take place while being backed by a haunting and relentless score by award-winning composer Michael Giacchino who completely nails it.

Overall, “The Batman” works as far more than just the latest entry in a string of Comic Book Films that have come to dominate the Hollywood Box Office. With his latest feature, director Matt Reeves has served up a superb piece of filmmaking, an offering of pure cinema, which showcases an exhilarating story, a clever screenplay, dynamic performances, and a unique take on Batman that we haven’t quite seen done on the big screen yet. “The Batman” is dark, full of twists, turns, surprising reveals, and the suspenseful mystery at the film’s core is filled with heightened tension and emotion throughout.

With all that said, the inevitable question will be asked: Is this film on the same level as Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”?  In my personal opinion, “The Batman” absolutely rivals that movie as the greatest Batman film to date. Ultimately, fans will decide which one they prefer more, but I thought “The Batman” was so great that it’s certainly a credible debate worth having! Be that as it may, this film does nothing to diminish the worth of past Batman films or specific portrayals of the character that you love. However, what it does do is add its own unique layer to the mythos of the character and compliments the previous films with yet another masterfully developed feature full of style and artistic merit. 

Whether you’re a die-hard fan of superhero movies in general, the Batman character specifically, or just love skillfully crafted detective thrillers containing shades of mystery, horror, and intense action sequences, I highly recommend seeing this film as soon as you can.

“The Batman” will be playing in theatres everywhere on March 4th – Enjoy!