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Vengeance comes out from the shadows in Matt Reeves’ “The Batman”

Robert Pattinson stars in the 2022 film, "The Batman."
Robert Pattinson stars in the 2022 film, "The Batman."

Going into “The Batman,” I expected it to be an instant classic. With an all-star cast paired with the mastermind director Matt Reeves (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Cloverfield”), things couldn’t have been set up more perfectly.

It’s safe to say that my expectations were met.

The release of “The Batman” wasn’t without its setbacks. The initial release date was set for June 25, 2021, but the pandemic delayed it to October 1, 2021. Then, multiple variants pushed the release to March 4, 2022, a long wait for DC fans and casual moviegoers alike.

Despite the long wait, everything from Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne to the score was nothing short of perfection. Matt Reeves presents Batman the way that I’ve always thought of him: dark, mysterious, unyielding and truly frightening. To quote Wayne, “Fear is a tool. When that light hits the sky, it’s not just a call. It’s a warning. For them.”

Don’t get me wrong, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy was groundbreaking. I’m a huge fan of Christian Bale’s Batman.

But the 2022 film surpasses those.

In this adaptation of the caped crusader’s tale, we see a young Bruce Wayne who’s fairly new to his moonlight crime-fighting. He hasn’t quite yet figured out the true purpose of the Batman, and he’s driven by vengeance, an overarching theme of the whole movie.

Throughout the film, we’re introduced to new portrayals of classic Batman characters, such as Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), the Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright).  

The most interesting out of them all, however, is the main antagonist, Paul Dano as the Riddler. This portrayal of the classic DC villain focuses heavily on his twisted and psychotic nature; one that rivals Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker (not to be confused with Heath Ledger’s Joker, the best portrayal of any villain in the history of superhero movies). 

To me, these kinds of villains are the most intriguing. The bad guys that are true psychopaths are unpredictable. They go about their villainy in unprecedented ways that keep the audience wondering what they’ll do next, and that can do a lot for a film.

I’d also like to take a moment to appreciate the batsuit. Jacqueline Durran (head costume designer for “The Batman”) brought us the best one yet, making it look much less animated than previous renditions. 

Beyond costumes, the entire film is visually stunning, maintaining a dark and dreary noir setting throughout. In contrast to previous Batman films, the visuals alone make “The Batman” stand out as what these movies should be.

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And then there’s the score.

I was totally blown away by the music in this film. Composer Michael Giacchino puts together a masterful collection of pieces that fit each scene perfectly. He uses elements from the original Batman theme song while adding his own flare to it, making beautiful concoctions that immerse you into every scene.

The best part of the soundtrack, however, is Nirvana’s “Something in the Way.” The song shows up throughout the film, both in its original form and in Giacchino’s own adaptations. It fits perfectly into the eerie tone of the film, and it’s adapted to fit the tone of multiple individual scenes.

I know I’ve had nothing but good things to say about “The Batman” up to this point. As much as it pains me, though, I have to bring up the issue of its length.

Discounting credits, the film comes out to a whopping two hours and fifty-six minutes.

We’ve seen superhero films have extensive runtimes, and it hasn’t always been a bad thing. Think “Avengers: Endgame,” which ran for three hours and two minutes, or “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” which had a runtime of four hours and two minutes.

The difference between those films and “The Batman” is that they had a hell of a lot going on in almost every scene. “The Batman”, while having a riveting plot, had way too much melancholic staring. After anything important happened, Pattinson would stare at something for an awkwardly long time.

As my roommate put it after leaving the movie theater, they could’ve cut an hour off of the movie and it wouldn’t have lost anything.

However, the issue of runtime isn’t enough to make me dislike the movie. The sensational plot, perfect cast, gorgeous visuals and masterful score more than make up for the excessive staring.

This is what a Batman film should be. I’m totally stoked for what DC has in store for this franchise, and I can hardly wait for the next one, maybe with Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker next time.

Rating: 9.5/10

@garrettsahh

sahgj@miamioh.edu

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