I have seen every incarnation of Batman on the big and small screen ever since I became a fan of the 1960s Adam West/Burt Ward TV series as a kid. I have enjoyed them all – some more so than others (psst! I’d rather watch those overblown Joel Schumacher ones than sit through the dire Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ever again). After Christopher Nolan’s incredible, seemingly unmatchable, Dark Knight trilogy, however, I was wondering why Batman should be resurrected yet again? But of course, there’s money to be made – and there’s a whole new generation of fans waiting in the ‘bat’ wings.
Now I’m a HUGE fan of the original Planet of the Apes films and absolutely loved the recent reboots. So when I read that producer Dylan Clark was on board, as well as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves, I suspected that The Batman would be something to look forward to. And it is!
In his second year as Gotham’s masked avenger, Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) is still finding his way as The Batman when he comes up against terrorist serial killer the Riddler (Paul Dano), who is striking fear in the city’s corrupt political elite as he takes them out one by one. But what is his real agenda and what does it have to do with Bruce’s murdered parents?
Having shown his acting chops in Robert Eggers’ psychological horror The Lighthouse (2019) and Christopher Nolan’s spy film Tenet (2020), I knew that Pattinson would do the character justice. He does, though his impassive presence might be read as bland by some critics. Then there’s his hairstyle when he’s out of costume.
I just wanted to get a pair of scissors and trim those bangs. Oh, and is it just me or does he look like he’s channelling Crispin Glover in the 2003 Willard remake when he’s playing Bruce? As for the suit, I thought it fantastic – especially the pointy ears that I’m certain pay homage to the ones seen in Columbia’s 1940s serials.
The supporting cast assembled here is amazing and The Batman is an ensemble piece that works brilliantly. Paul Dano is downright disturbing as the Riddler, while Peter Sarsgaard, John Turturro and Rupert Penry-Jones are all decidedly nasty in their roles; but it’s Colin Farrell as rising mobster Oswald Cobblepot (AKA Penguin) that steals the show. Having gone into the press screening blind, I had no idea it was Farrell behind the prosthetics and fat suit. He’s terrific – no wonder he’s in line for a stand-alone film.
Zoë Kravitz also impresses as cat-burglar Selina Kyle, and I just loved how she and the writers have made her Catwoman such a sympathetic, heroic character. Then there are some familiar faces in Jeffrey Wright as Batman’s ally James Gordon and Andy Serkis as Alfred, while twins Charlie and Max Carver supply the much-needed eye candy as a couple of bouncer types.
If you have never seen or read a Batman film, comic, TV show or cartoon, then you will certainly miss a lot of what makes this new entry so special – while lifelong fans will get a huge buzz. It’s a wild dark noir ride that might be a tad too long for some (near on three hours), but well worth returning to the cinema for.
Oh and so too are the film’s locations, including Liverpool’s St George’s Hall (standing in for Gotham City Hall), County Sessions House, the Royal Liver Building, the Walker Art Gallery, the Wellington Memorial Statue and much more, plus Glasgow’s Necropolis Cemetery, and Two Temple Place in London. I see a walking tour in the making.
CHECK OUT THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE: https://www.thebatmanmovie.net/