When the Riddler, a sadistic serial killer, begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption and question his family’s involvement.
With Batman being so popular, there have been countless iterations of his character through the decades. There are the campy cartoonish Adam West versions all the way to Zack Snyder’s brutal take on The Dark Knight character. But now director Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) wants to take it a step further dancing on the line of being rated R rather than PG-13. The question is does the film work overall? The majority of it does, with the highlight being the depiction of each character whether good or evil. It accomplishes feats no other Batman film has before but also removes many of the aspects of Batman that make him so great, which may cause the film to suffer.
In this film, Batman acknowledges how large Gotham City is, and that he can’t be everywhere at once. He notes that each appearance he makes to the public must be calculated with precision to make the most impact within his mission. That mission is vengeance with sprinkles of justice. This may come across as common sense, but it’s the delivery of this message that makes it stand out. Batman is narrating to the audience letting us know what’s going on in his mind, which is a new and different way viewers can interpret the character. It also lets us know how inexperienced he is as Batman with this being only year two in his career, and he has a ton of psychological problems brewing around in his head.
Now the sad part about this film is that if you’re looking for the martial arts action ninja style fighting from Batman you won’t find that here. It’s a massive disappointment I know. That’s one of the main features of Batman, that he trained for years to accomplish all of his skills and talent but that’s absent here. There aren’t many gadgets and technology that audiences are used to and that’s a huge bummer and missed opportunity in my opinion. However, what substitutes that is the detective nature of Batman within this film. He takes the boxing gloves off and decides to investigate every detail of each crime throughout this film which is a delight. We’ve never received a detective Batman like this before, and it’s one of the greater parts of the film.
As far as the cast they all had outstanding performances, to say the least. From Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), The Riddler (Paul Dano), James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), The Penguin (Colin Farrell), and of course Batman (Robert Pattinson) himself. The relationship between Batman and Gordon was a breath of fresh air. The faith that Gordon had in Batman while all his surrounding colleagues detested him added a great level of tension to the film. Catwoman’s portrayal was great too. Not only was she sexy in and outside of her costume, but she was smart, passionate, and resourceful. Seeing her kick combinations against Batman, showcasing her level of training, was another great addition to the film, especially with the way it was shot. The Riddler’s depiction was the best by far. His appearance alone nearly turned this film into a horror movie. He was so unstable it was frightening, and he held no punches when violence erupted from within.
It’s very clear that Batman has a lot to learn about being the hero of Gotham. From the beginning until the end he realizes that he may be going about things the wrong way. This leaves the floodgates open with how his character can develop over the years. He’s broken, beaten, and has barely been fighting criminals to try and clean up his corrupted city. And to say it’s corrupted is an understatement. The entire infrastructure is rotten and evil to the core. The way the story and plot unfold addressing this seems as if there’s no hope which adds even more challenges for the cape crusader.
There’s a high number of achievements this film was able to grasp that makes it a knockout, but unfortunately, I still didn’t love it. It just comes down to the subjectivity of it all. This is still not my favorite Batman and doesn’t come close. I want my action and choreography which isn’t here, but instead, I see Batman getting beat up half the time. Some may argue that it’s more realistic, but to me, there’s nothing in past Batman films that is unrealistic. The man has billions of dollars at his disposal with some of the best training in the world. You should be able to do anything with those resources. Those parts of Batman’s mythos are nowhere to be found here, and that brings the film down, even though it still has so much to be proud of.