The Batman review | The closest Bruce Wayne has come to Kurt Cobain

It is long, dark, and wet. It is not quite as clever as it would like to believe. But it’s beautiful, mildly amusing, incredibly entertaining, and, in the lead role, Robert Pattinson triumphs.

The Batman review


It is long, dark, and wet. It is not quite as clever as it would like to believe. But it’s beautiful, mildly amusing, incredibly entertaining, and, in the lead role, Robert Pattinson triumphs.

It’s fitting that the lead song in The Batman is Nirvana’s, ‘Something In The Way.’ There is no doubt, this is the closest Batman has come to Kurt Cobain. Melancholic rock stars are not the typical inspiration for an all-conquering superhero, but this one works. Batman is inimitably gifted, but disconsolate and alone, and struggling to reconcile himself with his unique place in an ugly world.

For even in moments when The Batman intensifies and the man behind the mask flings hapless souls into and through walls, Robert Pattinson’s titular character seems sad. People in his way irritate him, rather than enrage him; they are an inconvenience, rather than an enemy. In fact, it takes a self-administered adrenaline shot before we see Batman really pound somebody’s face in. For the vast majority of the movie, he is ruminating and lethargic – doing what he has to do, fed up of Gotham’s leaders and criminals, in equal measure, as the difference between the two shrinks.

And yet he keeps you entertained. The emotion is restrained, not absent, and just often enough Batman brings you to the edge of your seat. As does the cast around him. The first hour or so of The Batman is phenomenal. There are minor lulls in the middle, but 176 minutes passes quickly, and though the runtime could – of course – be cut down, I like the length. This is big-budget, fully-indulgent, no-punches-pulled, all-inclusive fun. The first giant blockbuster of 2022, The Batman is so nearly everything a modern epic should be.

The first in a series, it was never going to beat Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight – especially if it tried to play the same game. Therefore, director Matt Reeves took The Batman down a different route, returning the superhero to his detective roots, and steeping the film in the Gothicism that gave name to Gotham. The result is a noir crime film, equipped with endless rain and perpetual darkness, an introspective, brooding protagonist, a tortured, perverse villain, and an elaborate plot that twists and turns and is never fully understood by law enforcement until it’s too late.

The film succeeds with two and half of these tropes. It is the second portion of the plot itself that falls short, ultimately rendering The Batman very good, instead of great. If you’re going to make a three hour crime film, you need the perfect crime, and the Riddler’s reign of terror peaks – unsurprisingly – with the riddles in the first half of the film. As the violence ramps up and engulfs the city, the intelligence of the crime, and the detective solving it, both wane. The Batman descends into an entertaining action film, but it departs from the patient, pensive storyline it has already committed itself to.

Another issue in the second half of the film, is the lack of meaningful connection between characters. Though the cast, from top to bottom, all deliver in their own right, they remain distant to each other. None of the film’s key relationships feel authentic or genuine, largely because they are never given any rationale. Catwoman and Batman are half-together, simply because it seems they should be, but the tension between Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz peaks in their first scene together. The relationship of the film’s two biggest stars never progresses beyond there. Another example is between Batman and Gotham PD’s last true copper, James Gordon. Brought together through a shared distrust of the corrupt workings of the city and not a lot else, one of the film’s most important duos falls a little flat, despite both Wright and Pattinson’s performances.

None of this is enough to make The Batman bad, nor even subtract from the enjoyment of seeing something so grand on a giant screen. Rather, for a film this well made, this beautifully shot, with this good a cast, that it falls slightly short of its potential just seems like a shame. The Batman is so close to being something special.

Oh well, fear not. It’s three hours of tremendous fun, and the ending leaves no doubt that both Pattinson and Reeves will be back to give this whole Batman thing another whirl.

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