After a few years working with a Justice League-oriented Batman—another one aimed at capitalizing on the Marvel superhero boom that has taken over popular culture—Warner Bros. what I consider a bold decision in the batter, which returns the Caped Crusader to the black shadows of Gotham City. As Shakespeare said about a good deed, it’s in a dark world where Batman shines brightest, and if any movie proves it, it’s this one.
So let’s talk about DC’s latest Superhero blockbuster, the batter† SPOILERS forward.
Before we get to the heart of the matter (emphasis on grainy), let’s give a quick synopsis of the story. Gotham City is suffering from one of its worst crime waves to date, despite efforts by Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. (Rupert Penry-Jones) to tackle organized crime and it’s been two years since Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) starred as Batman. Something is up and the Riddler (Paul Dano) has orchestrated a gory puzzle book to lead Batman to the source of the corruption. With the help of Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffery Wright) and the late night waitress/cat burglar by Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), Batman can not only uncover the reason for the increase in crime, but also solve the greatest mystery of his childhood.
the batter is a well written movie
Ho boy, there’s a lot to talk about. Where to start? Well, what about the story? I thought it was excellent, not only in terms of content, but also the choices that were made when telling. For example, the first shot of the film is of Mayor Mitchell’s house, seen through the Riddler’s binoculars. This determines not only our location, but also the target of the Riddler. And this isn’t the last of the smart and fun choices the movie makes; I appreciated the thought put into each of them.
The story itself is also strong. There are meaningful parallels between heroes and villains that give us a lot to chew on. In the first act, Batman is very committed to his crime-fighting; he calls himself “Vengeance” and claims he fights to protect his father’s legacy. This is a Batman who does what he does, not just for the greater good, but as revenge against the criminals and corrupt officials who… power killed his parents. However, as the film progresses, it is revealed that the Riddler is essentially doing the same thing, and Batman has to face the fact that the same emotions that drive him to fight crime drive others to commit it.
Structurally, the film is a hybrid action movie and procedural mystery. I liked that very much. It gave us that detective aspect of Batman that we rarely see in the movies. The slower, thoughtful moments where Batman solves mysteries are just as thrilling and engaging as the action sequences, which test the integrity of your seat.
The film achieves this in part because the dialogue is strong. React to the batter, I anticipated and dreaded the Marvel dialogue, with lots of exposition and cute fluff. That fear was quickly allayed by Batman’s opening monologue, which establishes the state of Gotham City, pointing out that Batman doesn’t actually have a chance to actually fix the place, yet manages to have a glimmer of hope. It is a wonderfully written passage, one of many.
That will surprise you too the batter is funny. It’s not a comedy, but every moment of comic relief made me laugh out loud. the batter continues one of my favorite almost guilty pleasure traditions by giving the main character one-liners. You know those cheeky lines in The Dark Knight† When the Joker asked Batman, “Do you know how I got these scars?” and Batman replied “No, but I know how you got this one” just before they shot him with knives? Such spicy jokes always get to me, and the batter has she.
How is Robert Pattison as Bruce Wayne/Batman?
As I sat there in the theater waiting for the inevitable post-credits teaser (more on that later), I heard some of the other critics talking as they already wrote their reviews aloud. One of them said, “Robert Pattinson… You know, he was cute, but he didn’t have any charisma.” For whatever reason, that stuck with me on the walk home. I think charisma is one of those things that you always want and expect from an actor when he plays a part, especially a lead one. And in a way I agree that Robert Pattinson had little charisma as Batman, but at the same time I don’t think that was the goal.
What is Charisma? I suppose as far as actors and characters are concerned, it could mean that people start to like you based on mannerisms, attitude or looks. Then yes, I suppose this Batman has no charisma in that way, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to get attached to. This Bruce Wayne is a hermit; he’s aloof, grim, and even has a little childish fear. Those are features of the movie, and I think Robert Pattinson does it very well. The appeal of this Batman doesn’t hit you right away; it is in his journey of self-discovery that he becomes charismatic.
Okay, that was a lot about Robert Pattinson, but he’s not the only character to talk about. There’s also Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, and she’s doing a fantastic job. I love her chemistry with Pattinson, which starts off with hostility and fear and transitions into awkward bubbling sexual tension to full-blown romance at the end.
Zoë’s standalone scenes are also great. The way she flips the charm to get past guards, her emotional scenes with Carmine Falcone (John Turturro)… Kravitz really brings the character to life in a new way.
Ditto for Jeffery Wright as Lieutenant Gordon. Wright came on my radar after that The French shipping, where he was my favorite narrator. He brings the same beautiful voice performance here. Wright suits Gordon very well; he is a calm and friendly partner to Batman, but still very tough.
Finally we have the great evil of the movie, Paul Dano as the Riddler, who I think did a great job as well. He is at his best when he is masked and in the shade; he is very intimidating when we can only hear his voice. Dano gives the often-crazy villain a stark modernization as a Zodiac Killer-inspired psychopath. I will say, however, that once unmasked, he definitely loses it, with Dano releasing the tension with a few wacky moments. However, I think this is one of those choices; it shows us that serial killers, while scary when free, are pathetic and sad when their anonymity is removed. So maybe that part of the performance was all part of the plan, and in that case, bravo, Dano.
One final note on the acting: if you want to know how good Colin Farrell was as the Penguin, all you need to know is this: I had no idea Colin Farrell was in this movie until I started writing this. He was that convincing.
I want to point out a few negatives before I unsubscribe, although there weren’t many. The music was handled well for the most part, although the main theme may have been played once too many times. The story, while again I thought it was great, also took a while. In the third act I got a little nervous.
Overall I was very happy when I got out of the theater. I was especially happy because DC has clearly decided to correct the course. Instead of constantly trying to emulate Marvel, they’ve made something distinctly different and darker. I think they’re becoming aware of the fact that they can’t and shouldn’t do what Marvel does, and they have something that Marvel can’t do. the batter is gritty, dark and emotional, a throwback to the line that started in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and developed years later with Christopher Nolan’s trilogy.
I’m genuinely excited for future episodes in this Batman series. And as the credits suggested, chances are this won’t be our last visit to the darkest Gotham City yet.
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