The Batman (Matt Reeves, 2022, USA)

The Batman joins the ranks of Joker in bringing high art to the superhero movie. If you remove the costumes from this film, you have essentially a three-hour, artsy crime thriller about serious topics. Much like Joker drew on inspiration from Scorsese films like The King of Comedy and Taxi DriverThe Batman draws heavily from downbeat, gritty crime thrillers of the 1970s - most notably The Godfather and Chinatown. The film gets back to the detective roots of the Batman character and is at its core a detective film. 

Much as he did with the Apes franchise, director Matt Reeves has a talent for bringing franchises "down to earth." That's not to say he isn't ambitious - at three hours, The Batman almost feels like binge-watching a TV show. Still, there is a remarkable understatedness to the film, not only in the performances - including Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne and Paul Dano's turn as The Riddler - but also in the fight sequences and general mood. The film is almost entirely set at night and in the rain. Pattinson's recurring voiceover narration lends the film a film noir quality. His Cobain-esque version of Bruce Wayne - deeply unlikeable - is introduced with Nirvana's song "Something in the Way". Michael Giacchino introduces the melody from "Something" throughout the rest of the film.

Overall, The Batman is certainly overlong, but the film is worthy of the attention it is receiving. It manages to fuse the hyper-realism of the Christopher Nolan adaptations with the more gothic and stylized versions of Tim Burton. Some have called it the best Batman film ever, and while this remains to be seen, it is certainly in the top 5 along with The Dark Knight and Batman Returns. Well worth checking out for cinema fans, and not only fans of the franchise.



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