Review: The Batman – Vengeance Hits Hard

It’s safe to say The Batman has created quite the buzz, with questions being asked like ‘is Robert Pattinson really right for the part?’ And ‘why does The Riddler look like The Gimp from Pulp Fiction?’ But the question ultimately comes down to – ‘will it be any good?’ The Batman casts us to a gritty, corrupt and dark Gotham, and delivers on a stellar realistic and gloomy movie.

Andy Serkis made for a ‘precious’ Alfred

Firstly, the cast and the big question – was Robert Pattinson up for the task? The answer is yes. Robert Pattinson’s take on the caped crusader shows a dark, young, brooding and perhaps at times, selfish individual. He’s a complex person who, at the start of the film, hasn’t quite developed into the Batman driven by purpose yet, but this growth is subtly delivered across the course of the film. Bruce Wayne and his alter ego is a broody, serious and driven individual anyway, and Pattinson brought this across brilliantly. I just hope the reception to Pattinson’s take as Batman can now allow him to cement himself as someone other than Edward Cullen, which let’s be honest, he probably wants to happen more than anyone.

Elsewhere, Colin Farrell as the Penguin and Andy Serkis as Alfred were standout characters to me. Farrell’s incredible transformation into Oswald Cobblepot was visually astounding but he also delivered on a humorous and charismatic character who hasn’t yet evolved into the criminal mastermind he would become. To be honest, he was a joy to watch in every scene and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Serkis’ take on Alfred presented an incredibly devoted, responsible and tactical character who made an effort to assist Bruce in uncovering The Riddler’s identity and put his life on the line in the process. Likewise, it was great to see him bring so much depth to the role. Paul Dano’s take as The Riddler was genuinely creepy and unnerving from his first until his last scene, it’s just a shame he had such a questionable costume that didn’t really resonate with the comic book character. That being said, it was understandable that his identity would be kept secret for the sake of the plot of The Batman. Next, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman was a welcome surprise, she delivered on the sass, charm and wit that her comic book counterpart embodies, without coming across too serious. She packed plenty of intrigue and drive into the character too. Finally, Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon was excellent, he brought depth and compassion to the character in a way that made you genuinely care about and resonate with his struggles throughout the film.

Paul Dano made for an incredibly creepy Riddler

Onto the plot, the story is centred on an immoral Gotham and The Riddler murdering the corrupt elite. Batman must solve the clues left behind at each crime during the course of The Batman by teaming up with Gordon and at times, consulting with Selina Kyle and other morally questionably individuals. This leads me onto something I particularly loved about The Batman – it is very much mystery focussed. So often Batman movies present just the action and combat side of the hero but rarely delve into his exceptional detective skills as you see in the comics and Arkham series. He is the World’s Greatest Detective after all, so it was refreshing to see this take to the big screen. And there is no better villain to challenge Batman’s detective skills than The Riddler who is constantly trying to stay one step ahead and outsmart him. The film did a fantastic job at balancing the action with deciphering the riddles and figuring out who The Riddler is and how to apprehend him. Likewise, The Riddler genuinely felt like a threat throughout the whole film, with some incredibly tense and suspenseful scenes littered across its duration. There wasn’t a single crime where I didn’t feel like Batman or a significant character was at risk.

Gotham’s visuals in The Batman are also superb, it strongly reminded me of the bleak Gotham we saw in Joker, it has the same gritty, corrupt and dark tone to it, where you felt like you couldn’t trust anyone. The Batman built on this theme of unreliable characters in a fantastic manner especially as The Riddler knows who is and isn’t corrupt. At one point, Bruce Wayne is a target of The Riddler’s for his father’s corrupt actions, again showing how appearances could be deceiving. Unfortunately, this leads to The Riddler uncovering Batman’s identity, which as fans know, is one of The Riddler’s key goals.

One point that caught me off-guard was the Joker cameo in Arkham at the end of the film, where The Riddler seems to build up an ally in the inmate, who we could all assume was Joker. Not seeing his face and instead, simply the shadowed outline of the ear to ear grin and accompanying laugh was exciting, chilling and completely unexpected. The scene was subtle and well-executed, I love that it didn’t feel the need to metaphorically write in bold capitals ‘look it’s the Joker’ and instead let the scene speak for itself. I can’t wait to see what Barry Keoghan makes of a younger interpretation of the character opposite Pattinson’s younger Batman.

Colin Farrall wowed in his drastic transformation into The Penguin

Something The Batman delivered on exceptionally well was its action scenes, they were realistic, gloomy and paired well with the corrupt Gotham setting. You felt like Batman was genuinely in danger and foes actually posed a threat. One standout action sequence was, of course, the Batman and Penguin car chase. It was pulled off so well I can’t fault anything about it. The way both characters were putting their necks on the line by driving into oncoming traffic in the rain and the way lorries toppled and explosions rang out genuinely challenged both Batman and Penguin, enhancing the realistic and dark tone of the film. You felt like either could meet their demise. The sequence was topped off with Penguin thinking he’d escaped only to see the Batmobile come out over the fiery lorry which made for stellar viewing. Likewise, Penguin’s crash was shot very well, again making you feel like he could lose his life, only to then watch Batman approach against the backdrop of the incredibly catchy theme. All of the action scenes were well choreographed and kept you on the edge of your seat.

The score and theme song are repeated throughout the movie to reflect the gloomy and grim Gotham setting. The score was incredible at amplifying tense moments and likewise mirrored characters well, notably Catwoman’s score was sleek and seductive but didn’t feel out of place. Nirvana’s Something In The Way played twice in the film, to me any Nirvana is a big plus, but this choice of track felt fitting to Bruce, Batman, Gordon and Gotham’s struggles.

Overall, The Batman hit all the high points, it was well-acted, well-shot, the setting felt grounded and danger felt real. The Batman felt different to any other take on the caped crusader within the first five minutes which featured a monologue from Batman. In fact, the sole criticism I have of The Batman is that the runtime is very long, coming in at just shy of 3 hours, I felt like it could have been condensed down.

Zoe Kravitz brought sleek feline charm to the role of Catwoman

What did you think of Pattinson’s take as Batman? Let us know!

Holly Hammond

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