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The Batman Review | Movie

Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) is only two years into his tenure as a masked vigilante known as Batman when a serial killer calling himself the Riddler (Paul Dano) begins targeting high-profile figures in Gotham City. With the help of Lieutenant Gordon (Jefrey Wright) and cat burglar Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), Bruce must unravel the clues and stop a terrorist attack – all while wrestling with his family’s inheritance.

Batman’s bat has become ubiquitous. Gotham’s protector is rarely far from the screen; This year alone sees the return of Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne, the theatrical debut of bat girland the animated one DC League of Super Pets, which features Ace the Bat-hound, Batman’s dog. He is everywhere. A symbol. The challenge for The BatmanWriter/Director Matt Reeves: How to Make a Totemic Mythic Pop Culture Figure Feel New.

Reeve’s approach seems to be evolution rather than revolution. Comparisons to Christopher Nolan’s seminal Batman trilogy are inevitable – it shares Nolan’s serious, neo-noiric tone and is reminiscent of a set piece The dark knight – but the difference to, say, Batman begins is that this is explicitly not an origin story. Fortunately, there is no new recreation of Bruce Wayne’s parents who were murdered. how Spider-Man: Homecomingthis is Post-Origins: a superhero in his early years grappling with youthful naivety and what his masked identity actually means.

Working with his cinematographer Greig Fraser, Reeves has rendered perhaps the best film adaptation of Gotham yet.

So in Robert Pattinson we get a very different Bruce Wayne. Where Christian Bale and Ben Affleck embraced the character’s macho side, Pattinson looks like a boyish vampire, his skin tone just a shade warmer than his dusk. He is the first Batman on screen to appear fully with the eye shadow required for the character’s costume, reminiscent of Robert Smith from The Cure. In suit he is methodical and muscular; afterwards he is plagued by insecurity and self-doubt. A repeated pin drop of Nirvana’s “Something In The Way” confirms it: these are emo bats.

The Batman

As a new direction for these now-breeding superheroes, it makes perfect sense. And though the lack of humor sometimes flirts with self-parody – Pattinson’s tale, read like Rorschach’s journal, grumbles mostly about revenge, fear, justice, the usual – the mood is justified by a believably dark villain. In a crowded rogue’s gallery (shouts to Zoë Kravitz’s instantly charismatic Catwoman and Colin Farrell’s amazingly convincing penguin prosthetics), this is the Riddler’s show, anchored by a chilling Paul Dano performance. He’s a bespectacled Trump-era terrorist driven by an incel’s misplaced sense of injustice and a love of fiendish mysteries. (And latte foam art.)

Reeves fully embraces the comic book’s reputation as “the greatest detective alive,” which cinematic batmen often forget, and plays things like a twisted David Fincher-style thriller. (Some of the Riddler’s clues could have been ripped from the pages of the Zodiac Killer.) Occasionally, the intricacy of the plot lets you feel the nearly three-hour running time, but it never gets boring, the narrative being propelled by a series of grisly mysteries through Gothams shady downsides.

What will also catch your attention is how beautiful that lower bump looks. Working with his cinematographer Greig Fraser, Reeves has rendered perhaps the best film adaptation of Gotham yet; a careful balancing act between gritty realism and elevated mush (lots of neon, lots of rain) without ever overdoing their hands. The result is remarkable cinematic craftsmanship rarely seen in modern day blockbusters. Michael Giacchino’s brilliant, minimalist score completes the effect and builds on the highly effective work of Hans Zimmer – more evolution than revolution.

The arrival of Matt Reeves in the Bat-Verse is a gripping, beautifully photographed neo-noir take on an ancient character. While it’s not a totally radical Nolan/Snyder-era overhaul, it does establish a Gotham City we’re dying to revisit.

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