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THE BATMAN gets 7/10 Hero unmasked


Directed by Matt Reeves

Starring Robert Pattinson, Paul Dano, Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell

7/10

After switching between different directors, storylines, and Batmen, along with some COVID-19 delays, the brand new iteration of this superhero is finally here. With other screen versions of Batman so close in our memory, it’s easy to compare and contrast this new one with those. But The Batman does emerge as a fairly safe, but solid and highly stylish new take on the masked crusader, one that’s identifiable and distinguished from the others by its grim look and mood.

Gotham City is under threat by the masked villain known as the Riddler (Paul Dano), who wants to expose the criminal elites of the city by putting them through Saw-like traps. He’s targeting the masked hero, Batman (Robert Pattinson), who is reluctantly allowed access to these crime scenes, primarily supported by Lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright). While trying to uncover the dodgy dealings, centralised in a nightclub run by a man known as the Penguin (Colin Farrell), Batman enlists the help of yet another masked vigilante, Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz), a waitress at the club who could get inside information.

This wide-scale conspiracy plays into the similar themes of Joker, where the elites of Gotham do what it takes to make themselves richer, no matter the repercussions to the poor. This story is serviceable, though without many shocks or surprises to really rattle this good vs evil tale. But what makes The Batman compelling is the Gotham City it is placed in, which feels so real and lived in, the attention to detail amongst the city’s dodgy alleyways or the Riddler’s grungy apartment set up the city’s importance, particularly as it becomes a bigger part of the story at the end.

Although the world-building and characterisation of Batman is done well, the action scenes aren’t quite as exciting as they could be. The new Batmobile (a sleek ‘70s muscle car design) looks great and has an awesome introduction, but not much gets done with it as it chases the Penguin across Gotham in an underwhelming chase scene, and there’s unfortunately not much more done with this film’s secondary villain. The climactic action scene is more exciting and compelling because, through all its commotion and confusion, it serves to ultimately show Batman’s heroic intent.

With such incredible production design and cinematography (that’s ugly in a beautiful way), The Batman uses such a grim and evocative style to tell a somewhat serviceable Batman tale, but one that boldly (though not bluntly) reiterates the humanistic themes of this superhero. It’s a tidy version of the Batman story, never going overboard with any off-putting character or action moments we may have seen in previous movies, it’s good to have Batman back to remind us what being a superhero is all about.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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