The Batman Review

I almost didn’t write this review because while it’s only been a week since I saw the billionaire caped crusader’s latest outing, I’m already sick of talking about it. Audiences seem to be pretty split on their assessment of it, with the majority seeming to lean more into loving it than hating it. I did not hate this movie, however, I did not like it. There are admirable aspects about it, namely filmmaking technique (props to Matt Reeves, DP Greig Fraser) and a few performances here and there, but for the most part, I found this to be way too slow and self-serious for a superhero movie.

Don’t fuck with Lenny Kravitz’s daughter.

The Batman takes a familiar story and runs it through the gloomy and sterile David Fincher movie template – mainly Zodiac and Se7en, especially the former in terms of pace. It’s a long slow-burn and while that certainly doesn’t bother me on principle (my favorite film of 2021 was Drive My Car, hello?!?!) it bothers me when there are hardly any layers to back it up. Sure, Batman lore runs deep but any new imagining needs to supply its own stakes. This is a new Batman, a new Alfred, a new Selina Kyle, for all intents and purposes I don’t know anything about these people. And, I’m sorry, but we need to know more about them and their motivations to give a shit. Also, for a “detective” movie, most of the puzzles in this are easily solved and the opposite of clever. The Riddler supplies puns that are immediately uncovered by Batman, without showing the painstaking attention to detail that makes up real detective work. Films like Zodiac and Se7en were all about that process yet The Batman thinks it can skip that step and remain just as harrowing. Not convinced.

PAUL DANO is an incel with riddles.

Another common complaint I will echo here is that most of the action/events happen off-screen. This is a superhero movie, the one thing you expect to see is action and entertainment. I get they wanted to make this darker and more cerebral, but Nolan‘s trilogy manages to be dark and never pitch underhand to its audience without ever ceasing to be fun and entertaining. The Batman is lethargic and moody (which is fine) but doesn’t have any of the substance to back it up. It sports the depth of a My Chemical Romance poster meaning it doesn’t matter how many times you show Robert Pattinson looking sad on a motorcycle while Nirvana plays, he’s still a two-dimensional character at best. Marvel movies have two-dimensional characters too, but at least those movies, the good ones anyway, are a blast to watch. I feel like a broken record at this point, but The Batman is about as fun as a trip to the dentist, which is fine for movies that have the depth to actually say something or at the very least closely examine characters and their actions in a way we might not regularly do on our own. When a film is slow, it’s usually so we can really take stock of all the little details. When the film doesn’t have all those little details or deeper meanings or whatever, it’s like slowing down on a road trip in an area with no scenery. There’s nothing to see here, folks.

COLIN FARRELL slays as The Penguin.

In terms of the acting, it’s a mixed bag at best. Pattinson is as good as he can be given how little we know and are able to identify with his Bruce Wayne and Paul Dano essentially does his Eli Sunday/There Will Be Blood character cranked up to an 11. It’s a choice that works for his Riddler 4chan incel but it’s nothing to write home about. Zoe Kravitz is all right but unmemorable as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, but Jeffrey Wright and Andy Serkis are both quite good in their supporting roles as Jim Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth, respectively. You wish they did more with Serkis‘ Alfred especially since they give him this “heartwarming” Oscar-bid speech halfway through the movie that would have hit significantly harder if we spent maybe even ten more minutes building up his relationship with Pattinson. Far and away the best and most endlessly compelling performance of the film comes from Colin Farrell as The Penguin. Completely unrecognizable behind brilliantly designed and applied latex makeup and disguising his voice like we’ve never heard before, it would have been easy for Farrell to basically phone it in and let the sheer visual spectacle of his makeup do the talking, but he ends up delivering us the most morally complex character of the film, always hinting at a far more compelling story than what we’re getting with The Batman. Unfortunately, it’s a small part and he never sticks around for very long. When his series drops on HBOMax, I’m totally there though. Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn out like True Detective Season 2.

At the risk of sounding like a civil rights villain, these movies are better when they know their place. However, they’re best when despite their campy roots they somehow manage to give us something interesting, new, and serious, without feeling self-serious. The Batman feels so self-serious, I mean, just look at the 176-minute runtime. There’s a really fun and breezy 111-minute movie in here. There’s also a really solid 8-episode first season of TV series here if they buffed it out a bit and gave these motherfuckers real, gonna say it once more in this review – DEPTH. What we get is something that constantly tried my patience and made something that should be the epitome of fun seem like eating steamed broccoli. Grade: C+ (HBOMax)

Film and TV Streaming Options

Tall Girl 2 (F) – Netflix

Euphoria (C+) – HBOMax

The Righteous Gemstones (A) – HBOMax

Somebody Somewhere (A-) – HBOMax

The Tinder Swindler (B-) – Netflix

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (D) – Netflix

Drive My Car (A) – HBOMax

Don’t Look Up (C-) – Netflix

The Power of the Dog (A-) – Netflix

Benedetta (B+) – HULU

Belfast (C) – $5.99 rental on Amazon

Nightmare Alley (D+) – HBOMax & Hulu

Pig (A-) – HULU

Shiva Baby (A-) – HBOMax

Red Rocket (A-) – $5.99 rental on Amazon

CODA (C+) – AppleTV

Scream 5 (C+) – Paramount+

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (C) – $5.99 rental on Amazon)

House of Gucci (C+) – $5.99 rental on Amazon

West Side Story (B) – HBOMax & Disney+

The Lost Daughter (B) – Netflix

The French Dispatch (C+) – HBOMax

The Last Duel (B) – HBOMax

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (B) – HBOMax

The Many Saints of Newark (C+) – HBOMax

Nobody (B-) – HBOMax

Malignant (?) – HBOMax

The Suicide Squad (B-) – HBOMax

Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (A-) – Hulu and Disney+

Spencer (C+) – Hulu

Flee (B) – Hulu

The Beta Test (B) – Hulu

Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (B+) – Hulu

Titane (B+) – Hulu

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