Like an ex who keeps coming back trying to add something new to the relationship (i.e., new hair style, weight loss, or a change in attitude), expecting it to be better, DC attempts once again to breathe life into its most beloved character other than Superman. In addition, to make it more intriguing with no “stone unturned” the run time is a whopping two hours and fifty-five minutes. And no, unlike the “old days” there is no intermission midway through the movie. Skepticism challenges if DC can pull this off. The Batman starring Robert Pattison as the Gotham’s Dark Knight, Zoe Kravitz s as the sexy but dangerous Catwoman and Jeffrey Wright as steadfast Lieutenant James Gordon is not only surprisingly well done, but it is arguably the best Batman film since The Dark Knight.
Slowing panning in the dark raining night, Batman appears. There is a sense of desperation and despair like that of an old Clint Eastwood Spaghetti western. But instead of hearing the clanging of the spurs while witnessing the dust and dirt kick-up of his cowboy boots, there is a symphony of squishy leather hitting the pavement smashing the water as the sound is amplified as if there is an army of stampeding storm troopers. Not much is said, just a cold stare as the raindrops stroll down his cowl. The feel of this film is different.
The Batman centers around one of Batman’s arch-nemeses, the Riddler (Paul Dano) who sets out on a psychotic mission of due process killing important political figures in Gotham to ward out corruption. Meanwhile, Batman (Pattison) begins to question his vigilante campaign for justice and light is not only shed on the city’s hidden malfeasance but his family’s complex history as well.
This may be the best cast of actors of any previous Batman film. Not star studded as in “big named” actors, but thespians who have truly carved out their talents during their careers. The list includes Colin Farrell as the Penguin, John Turturro as crime boss Carmine Falcone, and Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle. And no one is more notable than Jeffrey Wright as Lieutenant James Gordon. Wright acting is not uniquely complex, but he embodies the character of Gordon, an up-and-coming Lieutenant on Gotham’s Police force who would not be compromised by anyone or anything. He only seeks justice. As Batman so commonly praised him, “Gordon, you are a good cop”.
Surprisingly, Robert Pattinson hits the mark as the caped crusader of vengeance. Limiting his dialogue added more to the complexity of his mystique. He narrates his journey of the torment of coming to an understanding of what he is and what he has embarked on in his second year of wearing the cowl. His character constantly analyzes if he is making a difference or adding to the delusion of justice in Gotham City. As Bruce Wayne, Pattinson is dreadful, but this is intentional. Young master Wayne has not developed his flamboyance as Gotham’s eligible millionaire bachelor. He is a recluse who is rarely seen, very uncomfortable when not in uniform or maybe uncomfortable when he must put on the disguise of being Bruce Wayne with the hairstyle of Edward Scissorhands and the demeanor of a small child.
Batman has been around for generations and naturally, fans take things for granted. Assumptions are made that Batman was always Batman once he put on the mask and the cape, but in this film, this could not be further from the truth. The audience discovers that he has numerous misgivings concerning his quest for justice in Gotham. Yes, he seems to always have gadgets for the right occasion but is not always confident with using them. In one instance, the caped crusader catapults from building to building like Marvel’s friendlies neighbor but has that “oh shit” moment when he looks down and realizes that he is not a bat that can fly, but just as ordinary as the rest of us.
The Batman captures the conflict of a man and his city’s struggle the concept of right and wrong and their antidote for justice. No hope in sight until the rain and gloom cease. The dawn of a new era. No longer vengeful but optimistic. And the optimism that future stories in this cinematic version will be just as good.
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