The Batman (2022)

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I haven't seen this yet, Brian. But I'd like to. People who I've spoken to that have seen this have praised Pattinson's Batman.

Between Nolan and Snyder this is the third Batman in recent times. I'm concerned that we may be seeing too many Batman (Batsman? Batmen?) movies in a relatively short amount of time.

I'm also curious whether this Batman is the counter to Joachim Phoenix's The Joker?
 
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The Crawling Chaos

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I saw it a couple of days ago. To me this is the best thing to happen to Batman in a long, long time. At least since Batman Begins, but maybe even longer.

I should preface what follows by saying I grew up on Paul Dini's and Bruce Timm's animated series and the classic comic books: Year One, Dark Knight Returns, The Long Halloween and its sequels... The film noir aesthetic is an integral part of what makes Batman appealing to me. And Matt Reeves' movie is exactly that: a crime film with a contemporary film noir look. It wears its influences on its sleeve (Se7en), sometimes to a fault (spoiler: Riddler surrenders himself before it is revealed the climax of his plan has yet to happen and nothing can prevent it. But the movie had stuck so close to Se7en up to that point that what was clearly supposed to be a big revelation just fell flat).

What I really loved is that you're in Batman's world as opposed to being in our world if it happened to have Batman in it (Nolan's sequels to Batman Begins). To me Gotham City must look larger than life, unreal, otherwordly. This is why my favorite Batman movies have that slightly cartoonish studio feel about them (Batman Begins and its Narrows, Batman Returns). I don't want to see Batman driving the Batmobile down Chicago's Van Buren, I want it to be in Gotham City, surrounded by smoke and under a red sky that pours down acid rain on its inhabitants. More Blade Runner than Heat, in short. Matt Reeves' The Batman was also shot on location in several cities by the way, including Chicago (and... Glasgow!) but the Gotham City of his movie has a distinctive look to it that makes its locations look foreign and outlandish.

I will also say that Nolan's obsession with grounding Batman in the real world got old quick. After loving Batman Begins to bits I was initially enthusiastic about The Dark Knight, but once I got past Ledger's performance I found there wasn't much I actually liked about the film, and Nolan's Batman is no more realistic than, say, Burton's when you really dive deep into the plot and the trilogy's constituents. It just has the superficial veneer of realism but the plot of The Dark Knight in particular is nonsensical. Now it's come to the point where I can't even watch The Dark Knight and its sequel anymore. To me, Nolan's Batman is limited to Batman Begins.

Anyway, back to Matt Reeves' The Batman: Beautiful cinematography, good writing and amazing performances all around. I think of Colin Farrell's first of course, but Zoe Kravitz and John Turturro are not far behind. Paul Dano is always great but I can't say I really dug Reeves' choices when it came to Riddler. He was maybe too sociopathic and delusional, sometimes closer to The Joker than his comic book counterpart (although the character also had his crazier-than-crazy moments in the comics).

Robert Pattinson is brilliant both as Bruce Wayne and Batman. As the latter he is just violence unleashed, you can really see and feel him teetering on the edge of blind murderous rage, like he has to stop himself from beating people into the sidewalk everytime he fights. Bale's Batman was more animalistic and primal in the way he used violence, Pattinson's is different, more like a Jedi struggling not to let the Dark Side in. The way he fights is the best I've seen on screen so far, better even than Nolan's Keysi that relied heavily on elbows but looked maybe a little too choreographed - when you could see what was happening. Pattinson's Batman punches fast and hard while getting hit, pushed and shot. He's not there to look good but to get the job done no matter what. As Bruce Wayne, Pattinson had that frailty about him, he always felt like he fled the light and was never the center of attention or clowning around, which is great because this is a guy you'd never think could be Batman. While just one look at Christian Bale's square jaw, his chest and shoulders bursting out of his tuxedo would be enough to unmask him.

It's not a flawless movie. I dislike Nirvana and have zero interest in its late frontman so the parallels the film draws between him and Bruce Wayne were a bit annoying, not to mention the use of the band's Something in the Way as its anthem. But it's not the most unpalatable song they released, I guess.

The movie is nearly three hours long and it's not the most fast-paced, but once Reeves' Gotham sucked me in I never left it for even one second until the credits rolled. I hope the planned sequel happens. I've referred to Nolan's trilogy a good number of times in this review, which just goes to show that in spite of all its flaws it's still the benchmark by which we judge and evaluate all Batman movies. But I have hope that one day Reeves' and Pattinson's Batman will become the new point of reference.

Another minor nitpick: I wish the Joker hadn't been teased for the sequel. We've seen way too many Jokers in recent years (Ledger's, Leto's, Phoenix's) and while we've seen just as many Batmen, I think the Joker is not the be-all and end-all of Batman lore. I want to see takes on the other villains, like Mister Freeze, Poison Ivy, maybe even Clayface, and a better Scarecrow than Cillian Murphy's - not a dig at the actor, whom I love, but at the way the character was written and designed.
 
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paranoid marvin

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I watched the Dark Knight trilogy and enjoyed them. Yes the third film didn't really make sense story wise, but overall they were enjoyable to watch. Everything between that and Michael Keaton I had overlooked. Then I watched The Joker, and was blown away with just how powerful a movie it was. It was that movie that gave me high hopes about The Batman being worth a watch. And it is, with a fantastically represented Gotham City (almost as claustrophobic as Tim Burton's) and a wonderful turn by Colin Farrell as The Penguin. The only real disappointment was The Riddler; he really didn't quite right, and the 'riddles' themselves weren't really up to much. One thing I thought that was pointless, and needlessly extended the run of the movie was the love interest between Batman and Catwoman. It felt a bit tacked on, and (considering the two characters states of mind) it also felt forced and unrealistic, and anyway it went absolutely nowhere.

But yes a great movie, but not anywhere near as good as The Joker. It will be interesting to see what kind of movie they will be making in the inevitable third of the series.

And yes , Batman has been rebooted/reinvented far, far too many times over the past 30 years.
 

The Crawling Chaos

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But yes a great movie, but not anywhere near as good as The Joker. It will be interesting to see what kind of movie they will be making in the inevitable third of the series.

But it's not a series, is it? As far as I understand it, the recent Joker movie and this one are part of two distinct universes/timelines. The Joker is set in the 70s, The Batman in -presumably- the near future. In fact, in The Batman, another Joker appears as The Riddler's cellmate, played by Barry Keoghan.
 

paranoid marvin

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But it's not a series, is it? As far as I understand it, the recent Joker movie and this one are part of two distinct universes/timelines. The Joker is set in the 70s, The Batman in -presumably- the near future. In fact, in The Batman, another Joker appears as The Riddler's cellmate, played by Barry Keoghan.

I know what you mean, which is why I mentioned 'series' instead of 'sequel' (or maybe even 'prequel').

Personally I'd prefer Joaquin's Joker to have been a solitary movie; it doesn't really need another, in the same way that The King of Comedy didn't - but apparently there's a sequel in the making.

I not sure though whether any attempt to create a 'shared universe' could be done without having a Joker - commercially or practically.

It's kind of a shame that we didn't have a Penguin origin movie before The Batman. Farrell is tremendous in the role, and his rise from the bottom to the top of the Gotham underworld could have made a great movie. But again I guess it's down to box office - Penguin just doesn't sell cinema seats like Batman or Joker do.
 

Brian G Turner

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Watched this a few days ago and it was pretty enjoyable. Very stylistically shot. Some predictable events and the attempted Batman-Catwoman romance was really forced. But, otherwise a decent film. Oh, yes, the villain was pretty superb. :)
 

paranoid marvin

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Watched this a few days ago and it was pretty enjoyable. Very stylistically shot. Some predictable events and the attempted Batman-Catwoman romance was really forced. But, otherwise a decent film. Oh, yes, the villain was pretty superb. :)


Agreed. The Batman-Catwoman romance seemed awkward/forced. It could be that this was intentional to show the relationship between two people with so many personal issues, but I think it's more likely that it was poorly conceived and written/directed. Either do it properly or not at all, don't just shoehorn it in to bits of the movie; Zoe Kravitz is a wonderful actress and deserved far more screen time than she got.

But agreed that all of the villains are wonderful, and by far the best portrayal of Penguin since Burgess Meredith.
 

KGeo777

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The great advantage the 1960s show had was that they could use Golden Age Hollywood for it.
The stage-trained and marquee actor of that era were perfectly suited for a larger-than-life comic book performance. It is impressive that so many of them wanted to do it. But they were all playing the villains. I don't think they would have been eager to appear as a goodie character. The villain part allowed them to joke around and be the center of attention.

The serial adventure that spawned the superhero--those things did not provide any actor value at all. It was mostly simple adventure. The guy in Zorro's Fighting Legion was able to have some performance energy because he had to pretend he was wimpy in some scenes. That was the prototype for Batman and Robin.

I gave up on superheroes ten years ago. I did watch the Avengers films but threw in the cowl in 2015. I can't take any more. It's not just that they move away from the adventure element but the idea of the costumed character is so overdone.


I hope I don't sound like a Gotham supervillain, but I think there is too much Batman.
They have the movies and a million tv shows. How many are there?

The term oversaturation comes to mind.
As Kirk said about tribbles--too much of anything is not a good thing.

It is simply not possible to generate enthusiasm for Batman as a creator or an audience member. It's beyond stale.

It's turning into the Michelin Man or Ronald McDonald.
I assume they will start doing things like

What if Abraham Lincoln was Batman?

What if Benjamin Franklin was the Penguin?

I fear this is where it is going.
 

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