Fear, vengeance and hope. These are the three main pillars of the Batman and what he stands for. Aside from the acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy, few if any of the other live-action Batman films have truly delved into what these mean for the character of the caped crusader. Until now. Like Batman himself, this film pulls no punches.
From renowned Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves, we now have arguably the most well rounded and comic accurate Batman ever put to film. This noir, psychological, crime thriller draws inspiration not only from the Batman stories that came before but also films such as Zodiac and Se7en especially when it comes to the film’s main antagonist the Riddler, played by Paul Dano.
Set in Bruce Wayne’s second year as the Batman, the Dark Knight uncovers a plot by the Riddler to rid Gotham City of its most elite and powerful and face their sins that had rendered the city into its crippled, grimy and crime fuel state. The Riddler involves Batman in his quest for vengeance with a cat and mouse like game of clues littered at crime scenes for him to find. The Batman acquires help from legendary characters such as ‘Catwoman’ Selina Kyle and Detective Jim Gordon in order to uncover the identity of the Riddler and bring others who must face justice into the light.
Robert Pattinson brings a wonderful yet poignant depiction of both the caped crusader and the billionaire orphan to life. Audiences witness a broken man who has fallen deep into an obsession of enacting his quest for revenge upon those who seek to destroy his city. Gone here is the duality of the playboy by day and vigilante by night. Pattinson invokes the memories of the character's murdered parents and obsessive drive to cure his city both in scenes as the caped crusader and the true mask that is Bruce Wayne. Performances by Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman and Paul Dano also simultaneously encapsulate audiences and present the type of world they inhabit. One that can ground up good people, leaving only envy and tragedy in its wake.
This world that is Gotham city paints a dirty and cruel picture that both is realistic and yet honours the Gothic and dramatic architecture that has coloured its comic book pages for decades. In many scenes either where dialogue or action takes centre stage, the city provides a grimly beautiful backdrop for the characters to live in. Many thanks go to the film’s cinematography lead Greig Fraser. Fraser baths the city in a gorgeous pallet of black, red and orange to bring artistic light to the world without undermining the dark visual tones needed convey the mood of the film and its characters.
‘The Batman’ smartly mixes dramatic, brutal and scary violence with deep scenes of character exploration, world-building and detective work. Its characters feel real yet comic accurate, and its world is expressive and lived in. What we are left with is arguably not only the best live-action Batman films but one of the best Batman depictions produced. One that not only can be viewed as an epic standalone film but one that leaves the door open for an inevitable sequel.