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The Batman review: Ominous, intense and overlong

Robert Pattinson is more detective than superhero in this dark reboot, trying to get to the core of the rot plaguing Gotham City

Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz in ‘The Batman’. Image via AP
Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz in ‘The Batman’. Image via AP

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Matt Reeves, who previously helmed the Cloverfield films and two Planet of the Apes movies, takes on the reboot of Batman, the DC Comics superhero without superpowers. Robert Pattison slips into the mask and heavy duty costume of the orphaned billionaire vigilante of Gotham City.

The film opens on Halloween night. Costumes and masks abound. A group of young men made up somewhat like Heath Ledger’s Joker are harassing an Asian man. Batman thunders in. ‘Who are you supposed to be?’ the men ask. ‘I am Vengeance,’ says Batman, menacingly. 

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Bruce Wayne continues to be haunted by the brutal murder of his parents Thomas and Martha. He’s hurting, his Panda eyes equal measure make up and dark circles from never resting. He’s the vigilante Gotham city lawmakers depend on and lawbreakers fear. Fear, says Batman in his disturbing monotone, is a tool. Bruce Wayne is weird, very pale, a loner with one friend, his butler and confidante Alfred (Andy Serkis). He lives with trauma, loss and privilege, conflicted about his identity as well as his import.

The murder of the Mayor shakes up Gotham City. A card is left at the crime scene addressed to Batman. It’s a riddle. Over the next week, Police detective Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) relies heavily on the masked and caped crusader to get to the bottom of these elaborated staged, high profile murders. Each one accompanied by a card addressed to Batman, each one with a riddle. 

As Batman tries to solve the puzzles, he meets waitress and cat burglar Selina/Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), nightclub owner and mobster Oz/Penguin (Colin Farrell), and Gotham City’s godfather Carmine Falcone (John Turturro). 

Reeves takes Batman deep into his cave, closer to his origins than ever before. Pattinson matches up as a detective more than a vigilante, solving riddles and trying to get to the core of the rot plaguing Gotham City.

There isn’t much emphasis on Batman’s gadgets and weaponry. Though he fights and even battles, this Batman is more of a sleuth.

The Batman is dark and ominous. The opening hour of the nearly three hour long film has a more graphic/comic book style of shot taking and editing but the visual style changes along the way but cinematographer Greig Fraser’s shot taking, lensing and lighting remains stunning throughout, even during the damp squib of a climax.

An extravagant, computer graphics and visual effects intensive film, The Batman has an intense emotional undertow that suits the pasty Pattinson. All the it takes way too long and too many deaths to get to the point, the scene when The Riddler (Paul Dano) gets face time with Pattinson is poignant and finally delivers the message. 

 ‘Vengeance won’t change the past. Mine or anyone else's. People need hope,’ Batman says. One hopes that the return of Pattinson as Batman will be accompanied by a less indulgent script at a tighter run time.

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