It’s the cinematic equivalent of metal’s slowest dirge that just presses and presses until your skull implodes. However, many of these things are almost unlistenable, whereas The Batman is quite the opposite.
What we have is the Batman character now following the steps of Nolan’s three films, which is to say dark and dark. The impact of these movies means there’s no longer (or very unlikely) a return to the ’60s or Clooney iterations. As such, we’re presented with an established character and a crime-fighter who eschews origin or backstory very much.
What we also have is a Batman (Robert Pattinson) returning to his comic book origins as a detective – at least for the early stages of the film – as he, Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and Alfred (Andy Serkis) at various points working on a complex plot – which nods to S7ven – that loops through The Riddler (Paul Dano), crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and The Penguin (Colin Farrell).
Director Matt Reeves and co-writer Peter Craig have, perhaps taken something from Joker, taken advantage of it to remake one of these very established villains. Strip them of a base of hatred and violence or does this apply to all? It will be enough for the viewer to decide to say that Dano, Farrell and Turturro are very well served by the writing and that they take full advantage of it without ever getting carried away by the pure evil of their characters.
The other major dynamic is the one between Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) and Batman that’s been going on for a long time and here doesn’t deviate much from what’s come before, although Kravitz works hard with the character’s ambiguities. This aspect and this part of the plot doesn’t quite fit together well in an already very long film.
The visuals are what you’d expect dark (there’s hardly any daylight) and gray but still beautiful. And it suits the action sequences in that they aren’t overdone and don’t go on forever, though you can forgive them at the end. And it’s here, at the final set piece, that Michael Giacchino’s magnificent score comes into its own as The Batman goes wild. A huge piece of moody music that is perfectly sequenced to the action.
It’s mean and brooding but not beautiful. It’s way too long with some scenes dragging pretty badly dropping an anchor on the movies pacing. As for Pattinson, he’s fine; it’s not that far off from what audiences will expect. In any case, he is in a no-win situation and will be constantly compared to all the other interpretations. He’s unlikely to be considered definitive (it’s Kevin Conroy.) but the beauty of this character now is that any actor who plays him can bring almost anything he wants.