Quick Synopsis: Bruce Wayne has to deal with a serial killer known as The Riddler, and also responsibility and past trauma.
I’m going to get the obvious out of the way, this is a LONG film. But weirdly enough it earns it. It’s a bit like watching a 3-hour video of Piers Morgan being punched in the face. Yes, it’s long, but you still wish it was longer. There are a few scenes that could be cut down slightly, but there’s not very much wasted. In fact you come out wanting more, you want to see more of these characters, of this world. And it’s such a well-defined world. Gotham is almost a character in of itself in Batman media, and if you get it wrong it can really harm it. Think of how weird it looked in Batman And Robin. Usually, the way studios do this is to have it feel old, like it’s from a 40’s noir. In this it actually feels like a living city, you can imagine walking around it and living in it. It’s amazing how small things like “bright advertising boards and crowds” helped it feel real.
It’s not just Gotham, this film GETS who Batman is as a character. There’s a moment I didn’t actually notice the first time I watched it. Near the end, Batman is rescuing a group of people from a collapsed building/flood. When he approaches the people who need saving, they don’t respond with “Oh thank you, It’s Batman here to save us”. They recoil in fear. They’re scared of him. He has set himself up as a figure of fear and vengeance to scare criminals into going straight, but in doing so he’s scared everybody else too. He’s not a beacon to look up to and admire, he’s the boogeyman. He’s what parents use to control their kids. “If you don’t behave/eat your homework/do your dinner, then The Batman will get you”. It’s because of that that he realises that he needs to start doing more to inspire people to do good. So yes, this film is set in a time where Batman already exists (and has already put Joker in Arkham by looks of it), but it is still before he is Batman. He already has the fighting skills, the clothes, the vehicles, all that was missing was the hope, it was the final piece of the puzzle.
There was a lot of people doubtful that Pattinson could pull this character off. He nails it. He is a fantastic actor and this could be the film that makes people realise it. There’s not really a weak link in terms of performance, and it’s full of “oh, it’s him” casting. Paul Dano is surprisingly chilling and completely redefines Riddler from a joke to a psychopath.
Part of that redefinition is due to what Reeves did with the film. This isn’t an action film, it’s more of a detective drama/psychological horror. It’s a fresh and unique take on the character, and one that’s really obvious when you think about it. It’s one of the few times in modern films where we actually see him do detective work, being very careful not to damage crime scenes, use logical deduction to come to conclusions etc.
I have spent this entire review just gushing over how much I loved it, and it’s for a good reason. It’s genuinely incredible and I am in awe of what was created. Go see it.