When that light hits the sky, it’s not just a call, it’s a warning to them. Fear is a tool. They think I am lurking in the shadows. But they have no idea…….I am the shadows!!!!!
Over the past 30 years there have been countless Batman iterations with Tim Burton- Micheal Keaton, Christopher Nolan- Christian Bale, Zack Snyder- Ben Affleck being the most popular. Now once again the character is being rebooted with director Matt Reeves at the helm & Robert Pattinson in the lead. But is this really a good idea? Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy cast a huge shadow over Batman’s legacy. Those are not just the best comic book films but one of the best films Hollywood has ever produced. Those films challenged the status quo, redefined the genre & changed the way we perceive cinema. And to step out from it is a herculean task. Matt Reeves’s previous filmography include Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes which were critically acclaimed & commercially hit. But directing a Batman film is a whole new ballgame. Were Reeves & co able to deliver?? We are about to find out……..
Based on DC comics, The Batman follows a billionaire Bruce Wayne who has spent 2 years of life fighting crime as Batman. He takes on a new case in which a mysterious serial killer known as The Riddler who is on a killing spree targeting rich & powerful people across Gotham City, leaving dead bodies which come with attached messages & riddles for the Batman to solve. With the help of James Gordon & Selina Kyle, he must find out what this serial killer is upto while uncovering earth-shattering secrets about Gotham’s criminal underworld.
The film opens with a grisly murder scene & we realise this is not gonna be an ordinary superhero film. Matt Reeves has set a really grim & gripping tone. Most of the film takes place at night. The cinematography by Grieg Fraser lines up with much more tenebrosity than Gotham city has ever imagined. Yet there’s beauty to it & it’s visually attractive. The Gothic architecture, the sombre atmosphere, use of unsaturated colours in each & every frame brings Gotham in its crime-ridden glory. The script being dark & powerful raises an interesting question whether our main character is actually a hero or not & forces him to confront his purpose.
The performances are fantastic. Thanks to 3 hours runtime, each & every character gets his/her own arc in the bigger picture. Robert Pattinson got very little screen time as Bruce Wayne but as Batman he nailed it. He is not our billionaire playboy. There is nihilism in his eyes. He is frustrated due to increasing crimes in this city. He is trying to make a difference but it ain’t working. He doesn’t care what happens to him anymore. He is unable to control his rage & he vents it all on beating goons to pulp. Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman manages to impress us with her little misadventures & she shares an intimate chemistry with Pattinson. Jeffrey Wright as Lieutenant Jim Gordon goes shoulder to shoulder with the Batman as the investigation goes on.
But it’s the bad guys who stole the show. Paul Dano as The Riddler is scary. His voice is disturbing, his heavy breathing will make you feel uncomfortable. He wears plastic strap to cover his face. He comes out from the shadows & kills his targets mercilessly & attaches puzzles & cyphers on them; just like real life Zodiac killer. He is unhinged, unpredictable & always a step ahead of the Batman. He is a product of a system that has crossed it’s line. Colin Farrell is unrecognisable as the notorious mobster- the Penguin, while John Turturro delivers an antagonist performance as the menacing Don Carmine Falcone.
Even though the story is mostly detective driven, the action scenes are exhilarating. The Batman wades through each fight with such ferocity justifying his personification of fear & vengeance. The brilliant use of light & shadows ups the ante. The Batmobile looks intimidating. The car chase scene in the rainy night is intense & visceral; especially hearing the roar of the Batmobile as it drives through flames devouring it’s prey. The relentless soundtrack by Michael Giachhino is so hauntingly good that you won’t be able to get it out of your head for days.
Overall The Batman is much more of a noir thriller than a typical superhero film- a riveting crime story, a fantastic mystery setting combined with Reeves’s immaculate direction & Fraser’s absolutely gorgeous cinematography making it a must-see cinematic event with deep emotional subtext. It is heavily influenced from two classic David Fincher’s films- Zodiac & Se7en. With The Batman, Matt Reeves has shrugged off the weight of Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy by delivering a superb film worthy of character’s legacy.