Review | ‘The Batman’ is the best version of the character yet

Picture this – it’s the summer of 2008.

A 5-year-old sits in a dark IMAX theater, her big eyes glued to the huge silver screen. Hans Zimmer’s music begins to swell in a blossoming crescendo, adding a throbbing beat to the jaw-dropping images before her – though she arguably has no coherent idea what to do with it.

The film was none other than Christopher Nolan’s “The black Knight.”

by Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy was my gateway to what became a lifelong love affair with cinema. His adaptation of the Caped Crusader story remained my favorite for years until Matt Reeves – who had already proven himself to be an up-and-coming and visionary director with films such as “War for the Planet of the Apes” and “Cloverfield” — created something even more powerful with “The Batman.”

“The Batman” isn’t another out-of-print origin story. To invoke a comic book term, think of it as a slightly later “issue”. The film bypasses the formality of the tragic murder of young Bruce Wayne’s parents by a Gotham criminal and instead gives a very different introduction to the character.

The film revolves around the titular protagonist (Robert Pattinson) working alongside police lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) as he attempts to piece together the twisted puzzles of a mysterious and elusive internet figure known as the Riddler (Paul Dano). What begins as a means to finally put an end to the Riddler’s heinous crimes becomes a deep dive into the doldrums of corruption – revealing members of the police force and Gotham’s most notorious criminals as his guilty suspects.

Bruce Wayne – who has yet to become the full-fledged purveyor of justice we know and love – provides exposition through his own storytelling, donning the perspective of a vengeful antihero bent on ridding Gotham of its filth. and his desperation. The dialogue unfolds over a gripping opening sequence that delves into the darkness that lurks behind every corner, and is very reminiscent of Martin Scorsese. “Taxi driver.”

The influence of films like “Taxi Driver”, “The conversation” and “The French connection” are subtly intertwined in Reeves’ image. It’s the perfect encapsulation of 1970s crime cinema and the avant-garde crime stories of the original comic books, punctured with character vignettes with obscure motives – and characters who constantly subvert audience expectations. “The Batman” is a revealing reflection on what can be a fine line between politics and crime, conveying the message that justice is rarely administered with an even hand.

The most unlikely inspiration for the film? Kurt Cobain, long revered leader of Nirvana, who would have influenced the character of Bruce Wayne. In an interview with Empire about the film, Matt Reeves even confessed to writing the screenplay while listening to the “Nevermind” track “Something in the Way”, traces of which can perhaps be heard in Michael Giacchino’s haunting score.

Cobain and Bruce Wayne share a striking commonality: they have both become symbols of something greater than themselves, giving hope to a lost generation. Wayne – who has been thrust into the public eye due to his family’s enormous wealth and political influence – struggles with his tragic past and his inner desire to do more for the people of Gotham City.

Using the film’s massive three-hour runtime to his advantage, Reeves introduces audiences to some of the most compelling and well-acted characters I’ve ever seen in a “superhero movie.”

Take Penguin, an underworld legend turned bully, for example, who is brilliantly played by an unrecognizable Colin Farrell. In fact, he’s so unrecognizable beneath the bird-like prosthetics and almost De Niro-esque facade that I’m sure I doubt the authenticity of the credits.

Not to mention that Zoë Kravitz’s compelling and complex Catwoman is the only iteration of the character I could possibly need. His charismatic and powerful presence complements Pattinson’s more low-key and angsty Wayne, who draws the two to each other whenever they share the screen.

Beyond the breadth of characters, “The Batman” is a masterpiece in its use of visual medium. The cinematography is absolutely stunning and incredibly dark. It’s a bold choice that manages to add a layer of depth and dread to the atmosphere of Gotham, where the people who “pull the strings” of the city operate behind a veil of darkness.

What finally emerges from the shadows are the elements of a story that tells the purgatory between good and evil – a beautiful, poignant epic that reaffirmed my love for cinema as I walked out of the theatre.

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