“What’s black, and blue, and dead all over? You.”
Get the tickets, grab some popcorn, and make sure your inner geek is ready for: The Batman! Ever since it was first announced in an online convention back in 2020, many DC Comics fans have been eager to experience once again just how good a live-action adaptation of what is perhaps the most iconic vigilante of fiction can be, when it isn’t tied to the storylines of a previous and rather messy cinematic universe. The Batman (2022) vowed to these fans to deliver just that, bringing in an interesting roster of villains, a promising cast, and Matt Reeves as a director, known for sci-fi pieces such as two movies from the Planet of the Apes saga, and 2008’s Cloverfield. With every card played right, this had the potential to be something brilliant, and trust me when I tell you that is just what we got!
The plot follows the Batman as a sadistic serial killer, calling himself the Riddler (Paul Dano), begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, forcing the hero to investigate and unravel a hidden plot of the city’s hidden corruption, in which his own family’s legacy may be involved. In this, he will be aided by characters such as Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), the indispensable butler Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), and Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), a peculiar burglar who is more than what meets the eye. It’s hard to say more about the plot without giving spoilers away, so I’ll get to expressing my thoughts.
In short, it's a dark and thrilling piece, pulsating with mystery as its pieces are slowly put together. The gorgeous cinematography of this movie, by Greig Fraser, put together with some great and dynamic camerawork, and the deliciously flawless score by Michael Giacchino, all really immerse you in the dark, wretched and self-consuming Gotham they absolutely do not fail to present, painting a perfect world for Robert Pattinson's iteration of the World's Greatest Detective to do what he does best. The cinematography’s colors bring to us a dim, but still warm Gotham, evoking a corrupted beating heart; a metaphor for the still alive but deteriorating city that the Bat pledges to save. The score is a great complement for action-packed sequences, just as much as it submerges us into the most introspective ones.
So many aspects of the character are done so beautifully: from the reflections on the mantle of Batman and what it represents, done in a very intelligent and rather poetic way; to how his ideals affect not only him and his mission but the very city he tries to save; and even the very way that, without revisiting the core origins of the Bat in a dull, repetitive way, this new iteration affirms itself as not the hero that Gotham wants, but the hero it deserves. Yes, that was a The Dark Knight (2008) reference. No, I could not stop myself from making it. The congregation of all these aspects make up for a great adaptation of the caped crusader, rivaling those already loved by the fandom, and teasing the prospect of a great future for DC in what comes to movies.
Great performances are sure to be found! Robert Pattinson’s take on a relatively inexperienced, but nevertheless dangerous Batman, works perfectly with the theme the film sets. Matt Reeves’s vision of the character for this picture was the one of a young vigilante, having been under the mask for merely two years, having set a reputation for himself but still on the stage where he’s getting the hang of it – unlike older versions of the character we have previously seen on-screen. Pattinson is a splendid fit for what they were aiming to achieve. Trust him to do great in the Batman role, with emotion you can feel coming through the mask, which is important.
The roster of villains -- and anti-heroes, if we’re to speak of a certain feline someone – is just perfect. On one hand, we have the iconic Catwoman. Zoë Kravitz makes up for a great Selina Kyle: mysterious, fatal, anti-heroic despite everything, and with an amazing chemistry with Pattinson's character.
On the other hand, the mafia bosses who look straight out of the comics, with John Turturro’s ominous Carmine Falcone, as much as the show on that side was stolen by Colin Farrell’s fantastic interpretation of Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot, the famous Penguin. He absolutely loses himself into that role, in a very positive way, transforming into the character not only by acting but physically, thanks to an amazing work by the crew on the prosthetics. If you’ve seen the film, or at least watched the trailer, you know what I mean. Just look at him!
But the greatest performance of the film in the villain department goes, without a doubt, to Paul Dano. His input on the Riddler, especially after the film reaches the point where we learn what this villain is truly all about, gives a whole new dimension to the character, contrasting with previously goofier or less serious live-action adaptations. This Riddler is dark, unhinged, and disturbingly human all the same, having some of the best, thought-provoking lines. Dano’s performance and line delivery takes that villainous premise and turns it into something that goes off the charts. I surely hope for more of his character in the future.
That leads me to expressing my excitement for a future sequel or continuation of the world Matt Reeves has created. As much as I fear what may happen when the movie industry decides to turn a perfectly good picture into a series or a cinematic universe, we’ve had a solid Batman trilogy before, and I trust the creative vision of everyone involved in this to do great once again. So now that The Batman (2022) has left me and other enthusiasts of the Dark Knight craving for more, especially after a certain cameo that you will not want to miss… if there is a sequel, trust that I’ll be seated.