The Batman is a welcome addition to the long list of films about the Caped Crusader. It is made compelling by its lead stars and plot progression but lacking in action, stunts, and special effects; elements needed in the superhero genre.
With a trio of talented actors (Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, and Jeffrey Wright) at the helm, this film just had to make a strong impression. The good thing is that it does. The bad, it needed to do more than just that.
Director Matt Reeves often concentrates more on drama and story even when making a film of this type; this tampered my expectations from the moment I knew he was involved in this retelling.
From the opening frame, down to the first 30 minutes or so, I found myself wondering if I was seeing a movie made by Reeves or Christopher Nolan. Whether intentional or not, it seems the former took a page from the latter's book.
The plot: Batman must solve the mysteries surrounding a string of murders by an enigmatic villain known as The Riddler. In his quest to find the link between the killings and expose the murderer, he joins forces with his friend, Detective Jim Gordon (Wright), and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Kravitz).
For the first time, we get to see the eponymous character really put his detective skills to work, reaching deep down into the dark recesses of his mind to try to demystify the crimes being committed.
Batman has always been portrayed in live-action films relying more on brawn than brains to get the job done. Here, the opposite is the case and this is what sets this retelling apart from most of the others before it.
The story is well-grounded in reality, the technology is believable, and the intrigue kept me glued to the screen even though I knew there was only one way this could end.
This is a well-grounded film where the technology is believable and Batman's toys aren't overly futuristic.
I wasn't sure if Robert Pattinson could pull off playing such a demanding role; something made even more challenging with the fact that many fans are hoping to see him fail so they can rip him apart. Well, by my standards, the young chap bears the burden well and shows he is indeed the scowling hero.
As Batman, Pattinson gives you reasons to keep watching, executing the charisma, poise, moves, and mannerisms quite well.
But as Bruce Wayne, he leaves a lot to be desired because there seemed to be no distinction between both characters who are polar opposites according to the comic books.
Zoe Kravitz's take on the woman with nine lives is spot on. However, I wished she could have been given more to work with.
One of the issues I had with the way her character was written is the way she was quick to align with the Caped Crusader. We knew they were going to work together but making it a bit more difficult and challenging would have spiced things up.
Jeffrey Wright is also convincing as Jim Gordon, the cop who refuses to compromise in a city of crooked cops. His alliance with Batman often puts him at odds with his colleagues but that is a price he is willing to pay. The actor does well with the character.
Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, the Wayne family butler, is more of a grumpy foster dad than a wisecracking and efficient assistant to the eponymous character. Other than helping with some of the riddles at some point, I didn't feel his impact.
As a longtime fan of Batman (he is my second best superhero character in the DC Universe, after Superman), I knew where the story was going but the journey is made intriguing and puzzling with a few surprises and a worthy twist towards the end.
Those familiar with Batman know that his world is dark, gritty, and devoid of the humour that we often see in Marvel films. But the way Reeves adds a few things to prevent it from being too gloomy is commendable.
Superhero flicks are almost nothing without the action and this is where The Batman fails to live up to expectations. The fight sequences are not at all bad a little creativity and style wouldn't have hurt.
Also, we have witnessed a lot of outrageous stunts over the years in films of this magnitude that the ones here failed to excite me. The visual effects too are far from outstanding.
One of the questions many will be no doubt be asking now is this: Is this the best Batman film yet? My answer to that is NO (the best, in my opinion, remains Nolan's The Dark Knight).
Secondly, is Pattinson a worthy replacement for Ben Affleck? Hell, yeah! He proves that one doesn't need a sonorous voice to strike fear in the hearts of enemies as the Dark Knight.
Conclusion: While The Batman isn't a definitive take on one of DC's most iconic characters, it is a step in the right direction for Warner Bros.
I like Pattinson as the titular character and the movie is good but not outstanding.