If I were to list my favorite simple pleasures in life in no particular order, it would be a fresh glass of orange juice, a good book, getting a haircut, taking my dog to the dog park, and going to the movies. And thanks to the pandemic, some of those things on my list were either closed or unsafe. I looked like a mangy mutt going without a haircut for so long that I recently shaved all of my hair off. I look like Omi from Xiaolin Showdown. (IYKYK) But honestly, the thing I missed the most was going to a movie premiere, and there were more than five people in attendance. Even when I watched the newest Spider-Man, the theater was pretty empty. So I was surprised to see a relatively packed house for this movie of the month: The Batman.
The Batman Review (Spoilers ahead)
First, I tried my best to stay away from all trailers and promos for this movie. I watched the first one and said, “cool, I want to be genuinely ignorant of this movie when I go to see it.” Trailers do such a great job of showing the whole movie that I didn’t want this one to get ruined for me. So I did a pretty good job of avoiding it all, if I say so myself.
Another Batman movie
I have two major issues with this movie. Outside of them, I had a blast. The first issue is that we got another live-action Batman movie. Including Justice League, Robert Pattinson’s The Batman is the eighth live-action Batman movie we have received. I love the character, and I love his rogue’s gallery, but c’mon already, pick any of the other hundred heroes DC Comics has. I will say that I’m glad I didn’t have to watch Martha and Thomas Wayne die again. Thanks for that reprieve, Matt Reeves. It’s highly appreciated.
Portrayal of Bruce Wayne
My other big issue with the movie is the portrayal of Bruce Wayne. Not Batman, because Robert Pattinson killed it playing the dark knight, and his portrayal of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne is not his fault. It’s the scripts. We got some uber depressed, anti-sun (there is a Twilight vampire joke here, but I’m only hitting above the belt with my jokes this time), emo, edge-lord wannabe recluse, and that isn’t Bruce Wayne.
And while the playboy part of Bruce Wayne is an act, it should still be represented in the live-action. Bruce Wayne should act as the party version of Tony Stark. Yes, Batman is the real Bruce Wayne, and the playboy billionaire is the alter-ego to help dissuade any idea that he is Batman, but that core tenant seems to have disappeared in this movie. Or you could theorize that the Bruce Wayne persona hasn’t be created yet, since he has been so focused on being Batman. He doesn’t quite understand that he needs both personas to be an effective Batman.
(Also, Selena Kyle constantly calling him Vengeance felt weird, but I understand why they did it.)
More street fighting
Matt Reeves’ The Batman felt like the fun Riddler parts of the Arkham games. In Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, we saw Batman as a man with a lot of money for gadgets to fight against bad guys. In Reeves’ Batman, we get to see more of the brutal street-fighting fear-monger vigilante, but we finally get to see the genius detective side as well. Not the detective that relies on gadgets to reverse analyze a gunshot hole in the wall and somehow get a fingerprint from it. (I know I’m tearing into the Dark Knight series, but know that I love those movies. Heath Ledger will always be the best Joker.) I loved watching this version of Batman piece together all of the Riddler’s clues. It felt like Batman.
Thankfully, we didn’t see Martha and Thomas Wayne die, as I mentioned early. I’m so over superhero origin stories. We are past the point of needing exposition for every superhero character on screen, especially one that has so many live-action movies. This movie is a year two Batman. So he isn’t entirely new to being a vigilante, but he isn’t a veteran either. And I think it shows in his equipment the most.
We saw zero batarangs. Arguably, Batman’s most iconic gadget. He had the knife bat symbol on his chest, but he never threw, so it doesn’t count. Next, we see the beginnings of what is possibly the coolest batmobile yet. I have always had a hard time accepting that the tanks we have seen in live-action Batman movies can move as fast and handle as well as they do. We see a muscle car with some extra “padding,” bulletproof windows, and a rocket engine attached to it in this iteration. It was so freaking dope. (I will say that his body armor was comically indestructible.)
The action scenes were great. At times, Ben Affleck’s Batman seemed to move with superhuman agility, and Christian Bale’s Batman felt stiff and rigid when he fought. On the other hand, Pattinson’s Batman felt effective, brutal, and fluid in his fight scenes. He gave out beatings but got hit plenty of times. And the car chase was easily one of my favorite moments in the movie. As Penguin finally thinks he got away by causing a massive accident, Batman jumps the batmobile over a makeshift ramp and captures Penguin. And all I could think about at that moment was the scene from Teen Titan’s Go. The only thing that could have made the car scene any better was if Pattinson had said, “I’m Batman!”
Really good cinematography
The cinematography in this movie is incredible. Some of the shots were breathtaking, but I genuinely think the best image in the film, however cliche it might seem, was the Batman wading in the water, red flare in hand, leading the citizens of Gotham out of the arena when the fighting was all over. It was haunting and beautiful and truly captured the idea of who and what Batman is to the city of Gotham.
4 out of 5 batarangs
Do I want DC movies that aren’t about the Big Three of the Justice League? Yes, so desperately do I want a Blue Beetle, Martian Manhunter, or Green Lantern movie, but if I have to go through another Batman trilogy, I’m glad it’s going in this direction. Give me a Scarecrow vs. Batman movie that feels like it belongs in the horror section of a Blockbuster. Something that I can watch during Halloween to get in the spirit of things. Clayface would also look and feel creepy in Reeve’s Batman universe, but above all, I want to see Mr. Freeze. Pattinson has the acting chops to explore the complex and often sympathetic story of Mr. Freeze. We will most likely get a Penguin story, but that is whatever to me. But I loved every minute of this three-hour movie and will probably watch it again tomorrow.
And if you don’t like superhero movies, check out last month’s movie, Stardust.