Saturday, March 5, 2022

Impressions of The Batman


Scott D. Parker

As I will do for every Batman movie ever made, I saw the new Batman movie on opening day. Lifelong fan of the character than I am, I have thoughts.

There will be spoilers.

Thirty-three years ago, we got a dark and brooding Batman in the form of Michael Keaton. Turns out, it wasn’t so dark, but holy cow was it at the time. Then after a more bright series in the 1990s, we got a darker, broodier Batman in Christian Bale. Then we got Ben Affleck who was dark and broody.

And now we have Robert Pattinson who is uber-broody. Like others have said, he's Emo Batman. And you know what? I'm fine with it. I actually enjoyed the film quite a bit, all three hours of it. And my middle-aged bladder was able to make it through the entire film without compelling me to run to the bathroom. Why? Because I didn't drink a lot of water. But mostly because the movie was rather compelling.

The Voice - Kevin Conroy is all but the definitive Batman for me when it comes to how he does the voice of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Bale's gruff growl became distracting and I particularly appreciated Affleck's voice modulator. Pattinson's low, non-gruff voice worked for me.

The Suit - A fully functional, bulletproof body armor bat suit. I loved the collar. The cowl was also well done, showing all the scrapes he's endured. And I liked that they acknowledged he wears black makeup around the eyes. I loved the gauntlets that could be deployed at a moment's notice. And the use of the taser. The bionic contact lens was a nice touch.

Jeffrey Wright - Can we just get a TV show with him as Gordon? Really, really liked how he stood up for Batman from the jump. We even got a few of the bewildered Gordon moments like when he looks back and Batman's gone.

The Police - Really liked how the cops go from disliking Batman to grudging acceptance. And that scene when Batman and Gordon walk Falcone out and they see all the good cops? Wonderful.

Colin Farrell/The Penguin - Completely could not see Farrell in the makeup. But I really liked his ferocity with the character. Sure, it's a little on the Deniro side of things but Oz is a crime lieutenant. It's was fun.

Zoe Kravitz/Selina Kyle - Her action scenes were fantastic with her multiple kicks per strike. I liked her one-track mind to help find then avenge her friend. And she had some of the few funny parts in the movie.

Paul Dano/The Riddler - Going into the theater, I could not have picked Dano out of a lineup. And I so liked that his visual style was basically a geek. A genius geek, but just a normal guy on whom the world had shat on for years. His monologue in the jail cell was pretty darn fun.

The Riddler's Big Plan - I so love movies when the villain is 25 steps ahead of the hero, and this movie had that in spades.

Batman as Detective - Very, very nice to have a movie like this. Yeah, we've had the big explosion version of the character so why not basically have a PI solving riddles and crimes who just happens to wear a bat-suit rather than a trench coat and fedora. T'was nifty that Alfred helped out with that.

The Fight in the Dark - Maybe 30 seconds, but holy cow, was that sequence awesome. One of the best in all of Bat-movie history. I'd bet money that director/writer Matt Reeves was inspired by the hallway sequence with Darth Vader in Rogue One.

The Finale/Mist Scene - As soon as Batman exploded that fire extinguisher and created a cloud of mist, I knew he was going to jump out of it. Fantastic visual.

And a child shall lead - When Batman, with red flare in hand, goes to help the mayor-elect and others get out of the flooded arena, I so loved that it was the young boy who was the first to take Batman's offer of help. The boy recognized the hero that Batman was and showed the way.

The Ending Speech - I appreciated the mirror version of Gordon's closing speech in 2008's The Dark Knight. This Batman, for all his mopiness, recognizes the need for hope in Gotham. That is an intriguing plot thread to open.

The Mood - I'll admit I was a tad leery of yet another brooding Batman movie, but I was sucked in almost instantly. It was a slow burn movie, punctuated with intense fighting sequences, but I really liked it.

The Music - John Williams's theme to Superman is arguably the greatest super-hero theme every written. Well, not arguably to me. But Danny Elfman's Batman theme is definitely second. When I saw that Michael Giacchino as the composer, I was excited. But a theme like from Williams or Elfman would not have worked in a movie like this. The slow, downbeat score, with the new Batman theme scattered throughout the movie, worked really well. Of particular note was the harp-and-cello piece when Bruce Wayne went into his parents' room.

The Verdict

Up until 2022, there has only been one live-action Batman at a time. That changes this year. Later, when we get The Flash movie, veteran Batman Michael Keaton returns and we'll a second live-action Batman, even if it is a return of an old favorite. That's a good thing, because if you don't like the mopey Batman, just wait. Or watch other versions.

Here's the thing: in the summer of 2008, we got one of the best Batman movies ever in The Dark Knight. Later that fall, we got the equally fun and light-hearted animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Boy did I love that series. And I also liked that year's epic Batman movie. I can appreciate both of them because there is room for Batman to be interpreted in different ways.

This is Matt Reeves's interpretation of 80 years of Bat-stories and the character and situations. As much as I love the brightness of the Marvel movies, Batman works well in this kind of story. Like I mentioned at the top of this post, I was a little leery/weary of broody Batman.

But Reeves's story, direction, and cinematography as well as Pattinson's performance won me over. It did for my wife as well. (Note: she is not a super-hero film fan but loved Bale's Batman, especially The Dark Knight, perhaps the only super-hero movie that she'll start to watch if she runs across it on TV.)

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and look forward to seeing it again.

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