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Film Review: The Batman    

By Adam Ross

Still from The Batman (2022)
Photo by: Warner Brothers

Still from The Batman (2022)

There are always two sides to movies like director Matt Reeves’ The Batman: the film itself, and the event. The latter can be summed-up by my experience during my third viewing. After the screen went dark and the sconce lights reignited, the audience remained seated in complete silence, but outside the auditorium ushers were escorting away moviegoers that couldn’t keep down the volume of their excited, spoiler-filled conversations. For my own part, I’ve been talking about this film for weeks. As for the film itself, it earns the chatter.

Without getting into spoilers, The Batman sees the World’s Greatest Detective make his way through the most fully realized on-screen version of Gotham yet while deciphering the Riddler’s breadcrumb trail of murders that are intended to unravel a mystery with implications that shake the city of Gotham to its core. Arguably relying on the nearly universal cultural memory of Batman’s origin story, we are introduced to the Dark Knight already two years into his career, which manages to weed out the chaff of unnecessary storytelling while also honing-in on the emotional and thematic elements that make a brutal vigilante both satisfying and terrifying. Whether you are a comic book fan, film aficionado, or simply enjoy going to the movies, it’s imperative that you see The Batman with as little story information beforehand as possible, which speaks just as much to the effectiveness of the plot’s intrigue as it does to the film’s focus on characterization and stoic tension. The story is simultaneously prescient and timeless in its portrayal of the inevitable conflict between psychologically isolated individuals and corrupt societal systems run amok, which is true of both the film’s protagonist and antagonist.  

The Batman manages an elegant magic trick by the end of its nearly three-hour runtime. Elaborately constructed with all the pieces of a massive, albeit gritty epic, it conceals its true nature under a patchwork that’s two parts action-thriller and one part crime-noir, only to unveil a subversive character study that’s simultaneously scathing and edifying in its take on the obsessions of its titular character. Audiences in first viewings might be forgiven for thinking director Matt Reeve’s new caped-crusader masterpiece revels in its portrayal of vigilante violence, but enthralling performances from Robert Pattinson and Paul Dano, coupled with a seething score from composer Michael Giacchino, propel this stylish slow-burn through a conjuring of brutal horrors so that each of this movie’s high-octane thrills melt into remnants of a traumatic haunting.

The film’s haunting nature is its greatest strength, so don’t hold your breath if you’re looking for a feel-good epic or some mindless action. Its willingness to let moviegoers soak in quiet suspense is potentially its greatest weakness, as not all audiences are willing to watch grown men brood for nearly three hours. That said, The Batman’s achievements cannot be understated, as it offers the most convincing and exciting depiction of Batman and his world yet. I wholeheartedly recommend seeing it, though perhaps not during finals.

Lifestyle & Arts