Greetings all! I am dusting off the film review tag in honor of a very special review: The Batman. As always, the Non-Spoiler review will go above the cut, Spoilers below.
Are you ready? Let’s begin.
For three years, we have heard about The Batman, as directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson. We heard about the Snyder fans insisting The Batman will be terrible because it doesn’t involve Ben Affleck or Zack Snyder. Discussions about Batman in the wake of BlackLivesMatter centered on whether Batman had any right to do what he does at all, or if he was a privileged White Man acting as a tool of post-capitalist masters, protecting private property and punishing marginalized communities. And of course, who can forget the discussion on whether Batman performs cunnilingus on Catwoman. Regarding the latter, just like in real life, one group says yes, another group says no.
I’ve been a Batfan since Burton’s 1989 installment. My childhood doggie (1990-2005) was named Batman. With the popularity of the Tim Burton film, the Family Channel began airing episodes of the Adam West show; trust and believe my parents knew right where I was between the hours of 4-5 PM every afternoon that summer. I had toys and T-shirts. Comics were still being gatekept against little girls so I didn’t start reading those until later, but I had the novelization and read it to tatters. Batman: The Animated Series happened and that was a revelation. It felt GROWN UP. The women were characters! With thoughts! Batman Returns happened and I felt Ways About Michelle Pfeiffer in that suit, but what was most appealing was the depiction of her rage. I didn’t know the word ‘patriarchy,’ but being a little girl in a blue-collar environment I encountered it every day – men, boys and women laughing at the idea that women could do anything men could do. And this was in the 80s and early 90s!
As a movie, Matt Reeves’ The Batman checks all the most notable Batman boxes and rarely colors outside the lines–except in one major area, which I’ll discuss later. The film’s world is immersive and recognizable; it looks like Gotham City ought to look – its striated architecture boasts Art Deco flourishes in the upper levels of the city, and in the lower, puddles, steam, and garbage spew from industrial vents or collect in gutters and alleyways. It’s a vivid if uninspired depiction of the Gatsby-esque wealth disparity that would have been ubiquitous to Batman creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane, writing in the 30s and 40s, and is once again our modern American reality.
Rather than faffing about with origin stories, The Batman jumps boots-first into a crime thriller with a high-profile murder. Batman is known, if not accepted, by the cops, and has made an ally of Jim Gordon, masterfully played by Jeffrey Wright. There’s an upcoming election, there’s political corruption, there’s the Riddler running around killing people and leaving puzzles, there’s Selena Kyle (Zoe Kravitz absolutely glistening) doing the cat burglar thing, there’s Alfred (Andy Serkis) as a surrogate father figure, all of which you’ve seen in the trailer. All of it works perfectly, even though there are moments that should remove you from the action. I realized I was thoroughly and delightfully entertained, even while watching John Turturro wear sunglasses in the dark, or a fat-suited Colin Ferrell yell at traffic.
The Batman is well and truly of the modern age, and if there’s one thing the modern age loves, it’s polarization. So naturally, people are arguing like it’s Thanksgiving at the in-laws, everybody’s had a few drinks, and it’s an election year. NO QUARTER.
To close the spoiler-free section, I am excited and appreciative of the thought and development that went into this new incarnation of a well-loved favorite. It’s a bit more cerebral than previous versions, and its soundtrack was good but didn’t have the impact of Zimmer’s or Elfman’s work. As word about the film grows it will gain its rightful place in the film canon.
Now, what about that sequel?
!!!!SPOILERS!!!!Continue reading “The Batman (2022)”