THE BATMAN – A Review by Gadi Elkon

Matt Reeves pulls a Fincher with THE BATMAN.  Here is my full review of film.

From Warner Bros. Pictures comes Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson in the dual role of Gotham City’s vigilante detective and his alter ego, reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne. Starring alongside Pattinson (“Tenet,” “The Lighthouse”) as Gotham’s famous and infamous cast of characters are Zoë Kravitz (“Big Little Lies,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”) as Selina Kyle; Paul Dano (“Love & Mercy,” “12 Years a Slave”) as Edward Nashton; Jeffrey Wright (“No Time to Die,” “Westworld”) as the GCPD’s James Gordon; John Turturro (the “Transformers” films, “The Plot Against America”) as Carmine Falcone; Peter Sarsgaard (“The Magnificent Seven,” “Interrogation”) as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson; Jayme Lawson (“Farewell Amor”) as mayoral candidate Bella Reál; with Andy Serkis (the “Planet of the Apes” films, “Black Panther”) as Alfred; and Colin Farrell (“The Gentlemen,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”) as Oswald Cobblepot.

“Unmask The Truth” is the liner connected with this latest take on Batman.  I’m not totally sure how much truth you will get or if there is a real unmasking going on.  All I do know is that you will be shocked, scared and surprised by this film.  Matt Reeves and writer Peter Craig have delivered the darkest and most noir like vision of the Batman story.  The mystery elements utilized are never abandoned for the flashy elements we’ve seen in other Batman incarnations.  Oscar-nominated (might change to winner with the upcoming Oscars!) DP Greig Fraser’s bleak and shadowy visual landscape perfectly sets the mood, the fear quality and the darkness.  Add in Michael Giacchino’s haunting and harrowing musical score and The Batman not only rivals Nolan’s first two batty tales but battles some classic noir like greats.  While watching this film I couldn’t help but be reminded of David Fincher’s ZODIAC and SE7EN.  The constant rain in the film is a direct link to Se7en’s NYC.  There are shots in this film I feel that Fraser almost directly lifts from Fincher’s two classics.  Harris Savides (Zodiac) and Darius Khondji (Se7en) fully realized Fincher’s dark noir style and Fraser fits Reeves’ to that tremendous legacy.  Paul Dano’s triumphant take on Edward Nashton is as close to a serial killer element as we’ve seen on screen in a Batman Film.  He even mirrors Spacey in Se7en in one particular scene in the movie.  Heath Ledger’s joker was diabolical and Oscar winning so it still stands out as the greatest performance in a Batman flick, but Dano’s deliver is still up there.  Though I don’t think Dano’s portrayal as the Riddler is even the best in this film.

The cast is a meaty group of real heavy hitters trying to really redefine their character’s legacies.  Tackling the big bat himself first is a fun barometer of the placement of the film.  Robert Pattinson as the newish Batman has the brutish quality down and totally embraced a Bruce Wayne who is still angry at the world.  He doesn’t showcase the physicality of Bale or the charming wit of Keaton but Pattison’s subtle take immediately is up there with those two iconic performances.  There is no time for the goofy nature of Clooney or Val the Pal.  Pattison really has an opportunity to grow as Bale did in this role.  Zoe Kravitz is the most agile and raw version of Selina Kyle.  Jeffrey Wright is our realistic toned-down look at a still unproven James Gordon.  Still prefer Gary Oldman as my fav Gordon, but Wright has such a lovable intelligence in any of his performances.  The two knock it out of the park roles for me though are John Turturro as Carmine Falcone and Collin Farrell as The Penguin.  Skip past the visual element of Collin and be amazed at his bravado.  He fully embraces the arrogance and sick quality of Oswald.  His scenes opposite Pattinson are for me the best in the entire film.  Turturro is the real secret to the film.  As Reeves and Craig’s dark script tries to create a believable mystery the mob connection elements of the Batman story become key.  In the end, this script is basically just the mob influencing the wealthy of Gotham and all the shit that trickles down over the years.  Turturro is the one actor not highlighted in the trailers or even on the tours of the film.  And yet Carmine Falcone is given the most robust godfather treatment in this movie.  Every important twist and turn of story is based on something Carmine did or is doing.  His connections are the web that weaves the whole down fall of the city of Gotham.  Dano’s Riddler may be causing the mayhem, but Carmine is the real bad guy in this film.  I believe John Turturro is what made me love this Batman movie.

Now I will say there are some slight misses in the film and that is why I’m not coming out and screaming best batman film ever.  The pacing of the film is by far a huge issue.  I love the sprawling dark cinematic quality but seeing nothing but dark black, grey and slight reds through a near 3 hours is daunting.  There isn’t a Nolan punch or even a Tim Burton quirky twist.  The car chase of Batman and Cobblepot is pretty sick, but it’s not as wild as all the explosive elements of Nolan’s The Dark Knight.  I still think this film is IMAX worthy because of Fraser’s wonderful camera work but this is nothing like what Pfister did in Nolan’s films.  I do love the cool take on the bat mobile and bat bike, but they aren’t given enough fun stunt riddled love to matter.  Now I will say that hopefully this turns into a trilogy, and we see the gimmickry amped to new heights in future films.   This isn’t my biggest gripe of the film.  The treatment of Alfred is extremely unusual.  I think Serkis does well in his cameo like performance, but the connective close nature of the Bruce and Alfred tale is literally given one decent scene in the film.  Alfred is an after-thought in this telling of the Batman tale.  Granted this isn’t an origin story like the majority of the other “new” looks of Batman so there isn’t time to build that relationship.  But the bold take to make Pattinson’s portrayal of Bruce as antagonist of Alfred is just not fully realized.  I’m not saying I don’t like Bruce being angry towards Alfred, but we’ve seen that done better in the comics and in the other films.  We barely see Bruce in this film.  Let alone his surrounding and remaining confidantes.  This does add to the mystery of the story but totally takes away any endearment to Bruce.  Luckily, I think Reeves and Craig’s script saves Batman from being one-note with his interactions with Cat Woman, Gordon and even The Penguin.

It’s simple this movie is dark and wonderful.  You need to see it immediately.

THE BATMAN

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Written by: Peter Craig and Matt Reeves off the story created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger.

Rated: PG-13

Selig Rating: 4.5 Stars

Running Time: 2h 55min

Action Crime Drama

In Theaters Only March 4th

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Jeffrey Wright, Zoe Kravitz, John Turturro, Collin Farrell, Andy Serkis, and Paul Dano.

 

The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

 

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