The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent, Tony Farinella.
I have stated in the past I’m not the biggest fan of superhero/comic book films. I know they are insanely popular, and they make up most of the current box office these days. However, they have never quite tickled my fancy. A recent exception to the rule would be 2019’s “The Joker.” It was my favorite film of 2019. When a superhero or comic book film is dark, gritty, and focused on character development as opposed to explosions and car chases, I can get into the film and appreciate the characters and the story. I’m happy to report “The Batman” is a really, really good movie that surprised the hell out of me.
When Robert Pattinson was named as the latest Batman, a lot of fans of the franchise were disappointed and fixated on his previous work in the “Twilight” franchise. Between “The Batman” and “Good Time,” directed by the Safdie brothers, Robert Pattinson has proven he is a solid actor when given the right material. Everyone has their favorite Batman from the various films in the franchise. I haven’t seen all of them, so I can’t say with any clarity which one is my favorite or which actor has done the best job. I don’t feel as though Pattinson was asked to do a lot here, but what he does do is slightly above average.
It’s rather tough to judge Pattinson’s performance, as there is a lot going on in this nearly three-hour film. It wasn’t a standout performance or one that blew me away. At times, it felt like the film was protecting him and didn’t give him a lot to do. When the film was over, I was impressed with the film and not really thinking about his performance as Batman. I would have liked to have seen more from Catwoman, played by Zoë Kravitz. Considering the film’s length, I felt as though they could have included her a little bit more in the film. There are also stand-out performances from Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Andy Serkis, and an unrecognizable Colin Farrell.
It’s Halloween in Gotham City, and it turns out to be a night of mayhem after its mayor Don Mitchell Jr. is killed by the Riddler. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), of the Gotham City Police Department, calls Batman into action as he feels he can be an ally in this case. This is not met with open arms by the Gotham City Police Department. This will also not be the first body that is found dead by Batman and James Gordon. The Riddler is leaving behind cards with various clues, taunting Batman. In some ways, this film had the feel of “Se7en” to it. This is much more of a dark thriller/horror film than a superhero film, which was appreciated. It helped that the film was directed by Matt Reeves of “Cloverfield,” “Let Me In,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “War for the Planet of the Apes” fame. He knows how to make a tightly wound thriller with human elements.
What makes “The Batman” work so effectively as a story is that the Riddler, right or wrong, has a motive behind all of his killings. He sees all the lies and coverups that are happening in Gotham City. He just wants to expose the truth to the public. Speaking of the Riddler, I would have liked to have seen more from Paul Dano in this film. I understand they want to build up to showdown between Batman and the Riddler, but it left me wanting more. I imagine that is for us in the eventual sequels. Again, I would have liked more from the Riddler and Catwoman.
There is also a moral dilemma at the heart of the film. Bruce Wayne/Batman is looking to figure things out about his family with the help of the family butler, Alfred (Andy Serkis). He’s piecing the clues together at the same time the audience is figuring them out as well. There is a rhyme and a reason to everything which happens in this film. At times, it felt like a smarter “Saw” film with some of the traps, letters, and messages that were being sent out by the Riddler. The film is an intense ride which really packs a wallop. That being said, I would have trimmed about 20-30 minutes from it. That would have made it a four-star film.
I’m really surprised they were able to get away with a PG-13 rating with all of its dark material, which deals with subjects such as mental illness, grief, death, trauma, and explosives. While I have no issues with films that are willing to be bleak and dark, it felt like an R-rated film to me, which is high praise. I’m going to give the film three and a half stars because of the run-time. At times, it really gets bogged down and can feel tedious. In the end, this is a very enjoyable look at Batman from director Matt Reeves. The way the film is shot is absolutely brilliant. The dark, brooding cinematography and tone were very much appreciated. I really, really liked “The Batman.”
* * * ½ out of * * * *
4K Info: “The Batman” is released on a three-disc 4K Combo Pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. It has a running time of 176 minutes and is rated PG-13 for strong violence and disturbing content, drug content, some language, and some suggestive material. One disc is the 4K, another disc is the Blu-ray, and there is an entire Blu-ray disc devoted to the special features, which are over two hours long!
Video Info: Released in 2160p Ultra High Definition, “The Batman” is simply stunning with its dark black imagery. It’s a remarkable 4K, and it’s exactly why the format is really finding its way into the homes of more hardcore film collectors. The film also comes with Dolby Vision. You won’t be disappointed by a single scene in this film. It’s breathtaking. For the Blu-ray, you get your usual 1080p High Definition. The special features come on a separate Blu-ray disc as mentioned earlier.
Audio Info: For the 4K and Blu-ray, you receive the following audio formats: Dolby Atmos-TrueHD: English, Dolby Digital: English Descriptive Audio, English, French, and Spanish. Subtitles are also in English, Spanish, and French.
Vengeance in the Making: A Making-of Documentary Featuring Cast and Crew
Deleted scenes with director’s commentary
Anatomy of a Car Chase featuring the Batmobile
The Batman: Genesis
Even though the film is incredibly lengthy, I’d love to watch it again. I really liked the direction they went with this film as far as the Riddler having an agenda behind his killings. I also thought the moral dilemma and the code Batman lives by was really tested throughout the film. It’s an impressive movie. I’m not going to discredit the work of Robert Pattinson in the film, as I thought he did a fine job, but it did feel like the film really didn’t allow him to show off more of his acting chops. He’s really hiding behind the Batman character. This might have been by design. However, I would have loved to have seen a performance that rivaled the film. Once again, maybe it was not the intention of the filmmaker or the people behind the film. Still, if you enjoy your superhero movies with a dark edge to them, you will not be disappointed by “The Batman.” There is no stone left unturned with the special features as well. Without question, this is a day-one purchase at your local retailer. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for the sequels.
**Disclaimer** I received a 4K/Blu-ray copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free. The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.