Congratulations, Robert Pattinson. You are the new Batman. Or “Batman” to be exact.
Now, let’s ask the question clearly. Why?
Economically speaking, it was a massive failure. Superhero movies print money, assuming they don’t focus on it diversity first. However, why would a director like Matt Reevesa legitimate talent with his work in the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy, yearning for more of a Bat story?
Reeves never fully answers the question, though from the opening sequence it’s clear that “Batman” is both more immune to commercialism and more of a bland than any previous Dark Knight story . Emphasis on shadows. There is a smile or a well-lit scene in the movie. It can also be black and white.
What “Batman” does not completely meet. Maddening is more precise.
We were dropped into Gotham City, a far cry from Tim Burton’s art deco model. Batman (Pattinson) knows his city is full of crime, but he can only do so much.
“I can’t be everywhere,” he growled.
Good. Clever. Threaten. In a way, the movie never matches the suspense of this intro.
We’ll soon see Batman in detective mode (smart again, to a degree) working with Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright, a one-sided stalwart) to solve a new string of crimes. A monster named The Riddler (Paul Dano) goes on to set up complex attacks complete with puzzles for a given Bat.
This Gotham City is criminal to its core, so Bats have to fight more than the mysterious Riddler. He is competing with The Penguin (unrecognizable Colin Farrell), a crime boss with mysterious goals. Plus, that Gotham City rotting could have endangered the city’s police force.
Bruce Wayne gets very little screen time in this new iteration. This is a Batman story (sorry, a “Batman” story) and his millionaire side is not the main focus. Except when…
We’re also introduced to Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz as the newest Catwoman), who uses her skills to investigate the disappearance of a friend.
Michelle Pfeiffer’s version emphasizes sex appeal, while Anne Hathaway’s offers romance. Kravitz also does not provide. Bat and Cat continued to run into each other without any chemical reaction developing.
Reeves’ vision here isn’t overtly awakened, but it’s inevitable how identity politics seeps into the franchise. The cinematic race swaps two key characters (Gordon and Catwoman), to begin with. We are introduced to another “blame the rich” subtext that was explored in “The Dark Knight R Rises”. And Kravitz’s Catwoman delivers the race once or twice.
It’s not as irritating as other wake-haunted features, but between those moments and a crusader politician (Jayme Lawson) with a thirst for “change,” it’s hard to avoid the obvious. course.
The action sequences, a franchise essential, are sure, but increasingly familiar. A mid-movie car chase is a mess, with tonal contradictions flowing into what should have been an adrenaline-fueled highlight.
The third act of “Batman” will bring the story lines together, including a major threat posed by all the gravitas Reeves and co. can be gathered. Instead, there is a general conspiracy of the wicked and a plea for peace that comes out of nowhere.
This… is the furthest thing from a flowing end. It’s a literal and metaphorical slogan.
Reeves, who co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Craig, deserves credit for trying something different, a violent raw story that doesn’t try to connect with the character’s comic book origins. Dano’s radically reimagined Riddler could be the film’s creative highlight, although his story seems perfunctory as a Adam West feedback.
We almost forgot to mention the new Alfred (Andy Serkis), but it’s fair to say the movie commits a similar crime.
Another lesson from “Batman?” Maybe superhero movies that lack millions of stars won’t be able to make it past the three-hour mark. “Batman” does just that, suggesting more is again significantly less.
The specter of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy overshadows “Batman” at every turn, and even a single turn of Pattinson’s pledge can do nothing to escape that fact.
Hit or miss: Pattinson is a capable Batman, but “Batman” shows there’s a limit to the amount of great Dark Knight stories we need.