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Matt Reeve’s Batman “Fanfic” Is What The World Deserves & Needs Right Now

You know what they say about having fans working on their beloved franchises and media IPs and taking over their creators’ work: said franchise might end up creating low-stakes stories and fanfiction dressed up with a big budget.

Thankfully, Batman fan Matt Reeves -also known for his much-lauded direction and writing of the Planet of the Apes rebooted trilogy- knows the responsibility of knowing the Caped Crusader inside out. While he is aware of the character’s legacy, he also remembers that he’s writing a self-contained story about the vigilante hero solving a mystery and a crime spree that could unravel Gotham’s history as a whole.

Reeve’s team did a great job overall in delivering a well-told tale with visual and audio panache, making it a lovely superhero-laced start for 2022. And he didn’t need to retell the death of Batman’s alter-ego Bruce Wayne’s parents all over again, pearl necklaces and all.

Bat Might

The key players in this pulp action crime story are Batman/Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), The Riddler and his puzzles (a masked Paul Dano), Iceberg Lounge owner & crook Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot (a heavily-costumed Colin Farrell), Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), and full-time waitress and cat burglar Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz). The Riddler is out killing important folks who run Gotham City, and it’s up to Batman and Commissioner Gordon to figure things out.

That’s basically the majority of the film: it takes place within a few days where our heroes are on a mad hunt and have to deal with dark alleyways and clubs, a whole lot of detective and recon work, and a few fights and chase sequences that are punctuated and paced out very well. Reeve’s direction and Greig Fraser’s direction of photography also lead to a good number of Stanley Kubrick-esque shots and scenes that feel tightened and also expansive to a point.

If anything, this is a beautiful 2022 film to feed your eyes, as well as a score-rich film for the ears. You can thank composer Michael Giacchino for the themes that can give Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman a run for their money.

Black & White

Most importantly, actor Robert Pattinson nails the title character, from his movement to how he addresses the situation, be it with a few words or a ton of punches. He easily showcases the reason why criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot; his imposing presence and the suit just works in this dark and serious drama. This is a Batman who is getting the hang of being Gotham’s vigilante protector: still rough around the edges but he’s still competent and driven.

His Bruce Wayne moments? While he does showcase some heartfelt moments, especially with his butler Alfred (Andy Serkis), this version of Bruce Wayne could use a lot more theatrics. He’s got the low-key part pat from the Tim Burton Batman flicks; now maybe have him flaunt it like with the Nolan Batman films.

Zoe Kravitz works well as Selina Kyle, right down to her amoral behaviour, while Paul Dano’s The Riddler is the right kind of creepy and menacing through and through; what you would expect from a mastermind instead of what Batman Forever gave us: Gotham’s Jim Carrey. Jeffrey Wright’s Jim Gordon, John Torturro’s mob boss Falcone, and Colin Farrel’s The Penguin all give solid performances and make the overall film work to its conventions.

Batman, Ego

And for a film that is almost 3 hours long, I didn’t feel exhausted just watching everything from start to finish. Granted, I could use a few more bits of Batman being Bruce Wayne and a few more edits and trimming, but given the title and “Year One” style of direction here, seeing more Detective Comics-style adventure here -akin to a Batman: The Animated Series three-parter episode brought to life- while also tying in some Batman story arcs of recent years is definitely the best way to go to bring something new to the series.

While non-Batman fans may see this as just a slick and well-shot-if-confusing pulp action film set in contemporary times and in a lot of dark places, I won’t be surprised if this love letter to the Caped Crusader gets placed alongside top spot films like The Dark Knight and Batman (1989).

It ain’t unseating Batman: Mask of the Phantasm anytime soon, but third place in that context is still damn good enough. It’s a helluva start of a new set of Batman movie stories, and that’s what the cinephile deserve and need right now.

Final Score: 80/100

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  1. The Batman is the First Real Batman Film; Here’s Why | KAKUCHOPUREI.COM

    March 22, 2022 at 5:30 pm

    […] almost 40 years, we have yet to get a proper Batman adaptation until now, with Matt Reeve’s The Batman. Every film up until that point featured the Dark Knight but never truly understood the source […]

  2. Best Movies, TV Shows, & Anime Of 2022

    January 2, 2023 at 12:18 pm

    […] Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson blew everyone’s expectations earlier this year with The Batma…, which arguably turned out to be one of the best Batman films ever made (up there with The Dark Knight and Batman The Mask Of The Phantasm). It’s notable for being the first live-action Batman movie to focus on the “World’s Greatest Detective” aspect of the Caped Crusader, and that results in perhaps the darkest and longest Batman movie to date. […]

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