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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'The Batman' Review: Robert Pattinson Suits Up & Solves Riddles In Matt Reeves' Brooding New Take

Robert Pattinson rocking the Batsuit
Warner Bros. Pictures

Time to get batered and bruced since we're obviously heading to shadowy, gloomy streets of Gotham City with The Batman under the reign of Matt Reeves who serves as director and also as a co-writer alongside Peter Craig. Robert Pattinson's time has come to control the Batmobile's steering wheel as Bruce Wayne himself, when a new serial killer called Riddler (Paul Dano) is taunting the city's big guns. This draws the attention of Bruce, who has at this point been guarding streets as Batman for two years, leading him to investigate the murders because Riddler has left notes addressed specifically to Batman. Teaming up with lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and an unexpected ally in burglar Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), the investigation unveils city's corruption and secrets on top of the bodies, involving prominent crime figures such as Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and ''Oz'' Cobblepot (Colin Farrell).

Clocking in at nearly three hours, it's only fitting that the story unfolds by leaning on three different genres, though each with varying success. The Batman is hitting it out of the park when it's mostly a crime drama, anchored by a fierce presence of Pattinson as Bruce is trying to match Riddler's wit. Tensions rise even further when Pattinson goes head-to-head with Turturro, who's surprisingly the standout despite giving the most human performance of the villains. The film also works as action for the most part; there's a thrilling car chase which is just technically superb, and while some fight choreography lets Batman off the hook too easily, a couple of them still work due to the surprise factor, an important character trait.

Only character drama parts are less effective, notably regarding Andy Serkis' Alfred whose scenes with Bruce are rather stale, much due to dialogue which relies on rushed sentimentality. Similarly underwritten is Selina as a whole, though it is to be noted that Kravitz almost manages to make it work.

What you really want to talk about, however, are the filmmaking crafts that set the mood and let characters run wild. Director-of-photography Greig Fraser continues his hot streak as the camera frames Batman to be an intimidating force when needed, while more operatic lighting like at Iceberg club or spots visited by Riddler gives you a chance to analyse the opposite viewpoints of Bruce and the villains. Most of the action happens at night, of course, but the light always seems motivated, making the story feel grounded enough.

Other two outstanding elements move in harmony, them being Michael Giacchino's roaring score and merciless sound design (boisterous Batmobile or Batman's heavy boots signalling his proximity) that defines Gotham. With superhero movies particularly in the last decade or so, rehashing character themes has become a real problem as it tends to sacrifice the setting just to explain the same character to dumbest viewers over and over again. This is really a prime example on how to do themes justice—if themes are what your director requires—since Giacchino isn't afraid to be minimalistic when sound is telling the story, whether that's by using only harps, timpani or bells. But don't worry, music does hit hard when it's supposed to and keeps things dynamic; even in the last hour that has slight issues with first intensifying and then just adding and adding scenes with the same level of intensity.

Smileys: Score, cinematography, sound design, John Turturro

Frowneys: Minor issues with characterisation

Dano's Riddler can be very scary but that ''Hey guys!'' was absolutely chilling, almost like content creator algorithm came up with it.


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