FILM REVIEW - The Batman
By The Masked Medic
Now I know what you’re all thinking. The Masked Medic is the single greatest Batman fan we know, and for some reason, we’ve not seen his review of the latest film. Just what on Earth is going on right? Well don’t blame me, blame the rota that has had me working non-stop since the film came out. But no-more! I finally got to watch this anticipated release with the Meticulous Marauder, who hasn’t stopped raving about the film and seemed to enjoy herself, even though I turned up to watch it in a Robin costume!
‘The Batman’ is a new iteration of the Caped Crusader and sees our titular hero in Year 2 of his quest to rid Gotham of crime. Already working with Detective James Gordon, Batman is bought in to help with a case that sees the Mayor murdered right before the next mayoral election. The killer has left a card addressed to Batman which contains a riddle as well as a code with a cypher. It’s fairly evident that the police commissioner and some of the cops aren’t happy about Batman being involved, and when the next victim happens to be the commissioner, Batman must up the ante in solving the mystery. The killer has photos of the men he is murdering in some compromising situations and suddenly Bruce realizes that more people may be involved in this entire thing than he initially thinks. Whilst chasing one lead, he ends up at the Iceberg Lounge, looking for a man colloquially known as ‘The Penguin’. Although his conversation with The Penguin, aka Oz, doesn’t produce much, one of the workers at the club, Selina Kyle, catches his eye. He follows her back to her place, believing she may know something, only to find that she’s not who she makes out to be, and appears to be an extremely proficient thief. Bruce, believing that he may have found someone who can help him, inducts her into his quest, although it’s evident that Selina has her own motives. When the Riddler’s next victim, the D.A. Gil Coulson, refuses to give up the information that’s asked of him, Bruce begins to wonder how far the web of corruption and lies go. All roads eventually point towards mob boss, Carmine Falcone, and it appears that Falcone’s tendrils reach even the reputation of the Wayne Family. Confused, Bruce must sift through the riddles and the lies to uncover the mystery and save his city. Can he stop the Riddler? Can he figure out what truly plagues his city?
The road to casting the new Batman was an arduous one. The film originally was supposed to star Ben Affleck and was going to be part of the DCEU, but when the director wished to take it in a different way, they needed a new man for the job; Robert Pattinson. As is the case every time, there was lots of controversy when Pattinson was cast, lots of people remembering his ’Twilight’ days, but I have to say, he really did the role justice (pun intended). I had seen him last in Tenet and had felt very much that he was ready to play Batman. His take was a lot more dark and isolated than his predecessors but it worked in light of the point at which his Batman was at. Paul Dano played an extremely enigmatic (again pun very much intended) and disturbing Riddler, and arguably the best version of the character I’ve seen in live-action. The opening scene remains one of the best opening scenes I’ve seen in a film for a long long time! Fantastic performances by Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot, Jeffrey Wright as Gordon and John Turturro as Carmine Falcone rounded off the acting performances. However, without a shadow of a doubt, the best acting performance was Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle, aka, Catwoman. She bought a nuanced grace and suaveness to the role, unlike anything that we’d seen before. If I had to criticise any of the acting, it would be Andy Serkis’s Alfred which I felt was underdeveloped! I know Serkis to be an excellent actor, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say perhaps his character wasn’t fleshed out enough in the script.
So what did I make of this film? If I start with the overall plot, I think it was done fantastically. The film acts completely as a detective story, which was what director, Matt Reeves, was going for from the beginning. Having it happen in Year 2 of Batman’s story means that we accept that Batman will have some sort of relationship with the GCPD, whilst also acknowledging their hesitation to accept him. It certainly felt very different in tone to anything that we had before, although I will say that it seemed clear that Nolan’s films acted very much as the blueprint to this film. This Batman seemed to rely on the shadows a lot more, and this was also reflected in the way that Bruce Wayne as a character is handled. My brother sent me a video on TikTok explaining the backstory but I think I’d still have liked Pattinson’s Bruce to be more like his character from ‘Tenet’. Despite these minor criticisms, there can’t be any denial that this was a quality casting and an amazing interpretation of this iconic character. Reeves had clearly taken in more of the comic book lore with regards to the development of this world, and I sincerely hope that he tackles more of the supernatural aspects of the city in the coming films!
The film had some quite distinct cinematography in that I felt that there was a lack of variety in the colours used, however, those that were used, were used extremely well. In certain scenes, the reds, blues and blacks really stood out. I also appreciated that the team were keen to use CGI to a minimum and the majority of the film was shot on-site in Glasgow, Scotland. There is a pretty epic car chase scene in the film and it was fascinating to see how they filmed that, given there were certainly moments in the chase which could have used CGI, but there was a deliberate decision not to. When it comes to the music, I have to give it up to Michael Giacchino, whose score underlies the entire film beautifully. There isn’t a scene in the film when you aren’t aware of the epic soundtrack playing in the background! Overall, I thought this was an amazing film and certainly sets the bar extremely high for Reeves to continue to deliver in this trilogy. Where the story goes from here, I don’t know, but I am extremely excited to see where how the stories of these iconic characters play out!