The Batman (2022)
Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. I'm not speaking metaphorically, but literally. I knew I would be watching this today up to about a week and half ago, as this was the first chance for me to get to see my youngest son, who was celebrating his birthday and had asked as part of this celebration that we go and watch it. As such, I have avoided everything pertaining to it. I didn't even watch so much as a trailer.
To be brutally honest, however, I was in no real hurry anyway. I have an enduring love for Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and have believed that this would not be bettered. My comment after watching The Dark Knight Rises' was "God help the next person to reboot this."
I was just being honest. Nolan literally took my breath away. From someone that was not a comic-book hero fan before or since, his film-making and story-telling was astounding. I mean, why would you even want to follow that with anything else? Shouldn't it really have been better left alone?
What's more, this was Robert Pattinson ffs. That glittery vampire from Twilight. Really? Who was casting this? I was nonplussed, let me tell you.
This sprawling, sodden Gotham is different from Nolan's vision in many ways and the best way I could describe it when coming out of the theatre was that what I had just watched was an Indie directors' vision that also happened to have a huge budget, instead of Nolan's much more 'Hollywood' version, also not short of a bob or two in its creation.
Then checking the Director, who I still didn't know until I looked it up afterwards states that Matt Reeves was at the helm. I could believe it less from his Apes movies, but definitely from Cloverfield and Let Me In.
Reeves' Batman is darker still than Nolan envisioned, which at the time was already fairly grim for big budget Hollywood and you can absolutely feel the dirt under Bruce Wayne's fingernails here as the caped crusader is less celebrity and more vigilante. Borrowing liberally from David Fincher, you could easily confuse this with Se7en, both maudlin, washed-out cityscapes that feel alive and menacing and at the same time hopeless and inevitable.
There is less politics, though it does raise it head at times, in favour of a catch-me-if-you-can with Paul Dano's Riddler. He gives an excellent performance but he's no John Doe, it must be said. Colin Farrell as the Penguin is the most comical thing you will see in the film and just reminded me of a younger De Niro in a fat suit. Turturro isn't really given enough to really get his teeth into and Jeffrey Wright suffers from, well, not being Gary Oldman, really.
Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman-come-convenient-love-interest doesn't convince that she really gives two hoots about anyone but herself, no matter what the script might seem to make her claim, least of all a way too needy version of Bruce Wayne which Pattinson, as expected, was unable to convincingly pull off.
The film is watchable and engaging but I checked my watch at the hour mark and then again every half an hour until it ended. I never looked at my watch in any of Nolan films. Hero fatigue maybe? Perhaps. Or maybe I just wasn't moved by or believed enough in what was being presented before me. It wasn't a trial, far from it, but this isn't what Batman fans from Nolan's era would expect or want.
If it entertains, then it's doing its job and it did that for quite alot of the running time, just not all of it. I wanted to be gripped by the story and the performances, and instead I felt like I was being repeatedly poked in the arm by it, demanding its attention and tutting at me for my apparent ignorance.