Robert Pattinson Suits up as an Even Darker Dark Knight

Directed by Matt Reeves

Starring Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano

Released March 4th, 2022

Rated PG-13


Gotham looks as though it’s never known a sunny day. And neither has Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), at least not since his parents were murdered when he was a boy. Now in his second year of dressing up as a bat and punching ne’er-do-wells, Bruce has found an ally in police lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright). While the rest of the force is understandably suspicious of the vigilante, Gordon allows his presence at crime scenes to assist in nabbing baddies. 

The latest murder spree in town is the handiwork of someone calling themselves The Riddler (Paul Dano), a madman who leaves fresh corpses with greeting cards for The Batman. These cards include riddles that are easily solved, at least by the guy dressed as the flying mammal. Along the way in his quest to stop The Riddler, Batman meets Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz), a young lady who has a penchant for felines, and Oswald Cobblepot (Colin Farrell), better known as The Penguin, the proprietor of the Iceberg Lounge. 

Pattinson proves himself an interesting Batman, moving like a tank into combat and speaking in a monotone whisper instead of a scratchy yowl. His Bruce is a young man unconcerned with playing the billionaire playboy role, though he may realize the importance of that duality as time marches forward in his dark double life. Andy Serkis doesn’t have much to do as Alfred, the Wayne family butler. He’s there mostly because every Bruce Wayne is supposed to have an Alfred Pennyworth. 

Kravitz plays Selina as confidently as the character demands, though we don’t see much of her cat burglar skills. Wright’s lieutenant Gordon is more hands-on than previous iterations, a welcome update for a character that has far too often been wallpaper with a moustache. Dano’s Riddler was based on the Zodiac Killer, an inspired reimagination for the classic comic book villain. I would have liked to have seen more of his performance on screen. I’m not sure why they’ve put Colin Farrell under so much makeup to play The Penguin, especially since this movie doesn’t need to have The Penguin in it at all. Would we even know this character to be The Penguin if they didn’t refer to him as The Penguin? I think you know the answer to that riddle. 

I haven’t always enjoyed composer Michael Giacchino’s work, but my favorite aspect of The Batman is his music. It’s a captivating score that ranks among Speed Racer and Up as one of the best of his career. I was, however, taken aback to hear Nirvana’s Something in the Way used in the movie as something of a musical motif, even seeming to be echoed in Giacchino’s impeccable score. To take a song that conveys such personal hopelessness and use it in a superhero film feels wrong. Perhaps I’m being too precious about a song that was on an album that sold thirty million copies, but its inclusion feels like it cheapens a powerful piece of songwriting. 

This is a Bat-film unrelated to the rest, a new starting point for a new franchise. A Gotham that isn’t as fantastical as Tim Burton’s Bat-films, but not quite as realistic as Christopher Nolan’s Bat-films. You may find yourself longing for the thrills of Bruce Timm’s animated Bat-series, or the laughs of Joel Schumacher’s campy Bat-films. There are few thrills and fewer laughs in this version of the ballad of Bruce Wayne, courtesy director and co-writer Matt Reeves. 

A lengthy two-hour and fifty-six-minute runtime is Reeves’ biggest blunder. The film would greatly benefit from the entire Penguin subplot being removed, though even then it would probably still be more than two hours long. Scenes are simply too long by half. The film is so dark, the vibe so morose, that after a while you want to be put out of your movie-going misery. 

Cinematographer Greig Fraser delivers many interesting visuals along the way, though the red and black color scheme gets old fast. Most everything in the film gets old fast, as we’ve seen so many of these elements before. It’s not a new take on Bruce, Alfred, or Selina, it’s just more of the same. For three hours.