We have had a bunch of variations on the Batman character over the years, many of them great, a few not so much. Plenty of fans were not happy when the latest actor to be cast as the caped crusader, Robert Pattinson, was announced. There was plenty of pushback because of the Twilight films, which was terribly unfair since Pattinson has made some great movies with stellar performances since then. Unfortunately, some people can not just give someone a chance. If you watched The Batman and legitimately thought Pattinson was not good, then fine, more power to you, but to do some because of something he did over ten years ago, well, that’s just not fair.
Having said all that, I enjoyed Pattinson as The Batman, and in this movie, we got more Batman on screen than I think we got in any of the other variations (perhaps with the exception of Batman ’66). There was some Bruce Wayne air time, but it was limited.
In The Batman, we were introduced to a Dark Knight in his second year of fighting crime. We wisely cast aside the origin story, because we all know about Thomas and Martha Wayne’s death in Crime Alley by now. I was always amazed that when they were doing the Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-Man, people were whining about seeing Uncle Ben die again. Honestly, we’ve seen Thomas and Martha so many more times that poor Uncle Ben, it is stunning. Skipping that part of the story felt like a wise choice.
This was probably the most we got of Jim Gordon, too, played here by Jeffrey Wright. He was front and center in the action and the investigations, playing an advocate for Batman, despite his status as a vigilante and the opposition much of the Gotham police seemed to have for Batman. Gordon and Batman were excellent together and felt as if they were partners.
Speaking of investigations, this was the first time that we got the Detective version of Batman since some of the animated series. Certainly the first live-action version of the Detective. Batman was at the crime scene picking up details that helped make his case. It was a great trait that we have not seen enough from a character dubbed the World’s Greatest Detective.
There were two exceptional villains in the film. Paul Dano was a horrifying, serial killer-like Riddler and Colin Farrell was unrecognizable as The Penguin. There is no way that anyone who did not already know that Colin Farrell was playing Penguin in The Batman could be able to tell that it is him. His performance is great, but I would have loved to get more from him. Dano makes this Riddler his own, an original character unlike any previous Batman villain. I do think he disappeared for a chunk of time in the middle of the film and that hurt some of the character’s momentum.
At almost three hours, I do believe that The Batman was too long and could have easily trimmed about 20 minutes off of the runtime without any trouble. In fact, it might have made the story a little more streamlined than what it was. The film had some pacing problems and that was the biggest factor in the negative.
Zoë Kravitz was very good as Selina Kyle, Catwoman. She was another character that I would have liked more from, but what we got was excellent. They brought in some of the character’s story beats from the classic Batman story, The Long Halloween, which was a good choice. I liked the chemistry between Pattinson and Kravitz and I look forward to exploring this more down the road.
This was a dark film, but it was not as bleak as some of the Zack Snyder Batman stuff. There is a good message of hope in The Batman and we get a character arc dealing with hope and symbolism for the Batman as well.
The action was top notch. The look of the film was beautiful with several gorgeous shots of Gotham and the adventure that was occurring.
I had some criticisms for The Batman, but nothing that is more than a few quips. This was an exceptional film with a use of the character of Batman that we had never seen before. Pattison was a great Batman and the rest of the cast brought their best too. Though a little long, The Batman was a fabulous film.