The Batmanthe new thriller inspired by the DC Comics War for the Planet of the Apes Director Matt Reeves strives to distance himself from Christian Nolan’s still impressive trilogy. Both are inspired by groundbreaking Batman lyrics, including Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s down-and-dirty Batman: Year Oneand rely on top-notch cinematographers (Wally Pfsiter on the Dark Knight films, dunes Greig Fraser in collaboration with Reeves) to create hyperrealism in contrast to Tim Burton’s gothic vision, Joel Schumacher’s living cartoons and Zack Snyder’s mythological frescoes. But Reeves finds a unique spirit through one simple pleasure: beating the living shit out of Batman. In my opinion, Robert Pattinson can never bounce against walls enough.
Christian Bale’s Batman was more vulnerable than the screen productions before him – who were more worried about outliving a horde of evil penguins or being turned into a block of ice by Mr. Freeze – but between armor and high-tech gadgets, he was still mostly untouchable in skirmishes with the mean Gotham Goon. There are a few moments of brutality in Nolan’s trilogy; A sulking young Bruce gets his ass handed over early in a Bhutanese prison Batman begins, but he (Batman) is just getting started, and we know he’ll be hitting back in the near future. After the psychology-heavy The dark knightwrote Nolan Bane The Dark Knight rises To inflict maximum pain, reenact the scene Batman: Knight case when Bane cracks Bruce Wayne’s back. Nolan took the franchise to the extreme, and if anything Bale’s Batman derailed in the final act, it would be the ultimate takedown.
But in The BatmanReeves asks to become Pattinson bruised wayne His millionaire goth kid wears the hood, cape, and bodysuit like any other Batman, but underneath he’s extremely human and prone to violence. Though he’s only foiling crimes in his sophomore year, this Batman (sorry, THE Batman) knows how to punch – and he unleashes his fist on street gangs, mobsters, and the occasional gun. But he’s only one man, and when his opponent consists of eight harlequin-painted thugs with machetes and baseball bats, he can’t help but take a hit. After a brutal early encounter, Reeves slides his camera closer to see Batman’s tired eyes and calms things down enough to hear his breathlessness. The close-up becomes a key tool for the director, not just to watch the gears turn in Batman’s head as he decodes the Riddler’s clues, but to harness the tension of being Batman.
After 100 years of car chases, there aren’t too many ways to improve on the vehicle choreography, but Reeves’ philosophy of beating up his boy improves on even the simplest set piece. In the middle of the film, Batman pursues the Penguin (Colin Farrell) through oncoming traffic on his sleek black Batmobile. Reeves eschews the Nolan-esque IMAX-wide stunt show for a more stifling experience, sticking to shots of the two drivers and wheel-mounted vantage points to build momentum. The camera occasionally drifts behind Batman to see through the windshield where Mack trucks spin out of control and crash into his car. The tank-like tumbler from the Dark Knight movies would have no problem dashing through everyday cars to catch a bad guy, but Pattinson’s Batman gets whipped around as he tries to maintain proper 10-and-2 steering wheel position.
Car metal crunches, tires squeal, and there’s a feeling Bruce Wayne could handle a little countercoup as he finally catches the penguin. The stunt work in the sequence is subtly impressive, and it’s unclear how much CG it takes to have Robert Pattinson thrashing about like a rag doll.
Reeves happily bangs his bat. In an almost entirely muzzle-lit interior fight, the superhero is attacked by gunshots, each ricocheting off his chest armor but causing him to noticeably stumble. A late-game fight smacks Bruce in the butt so hard that he resorts to firing some type of adrenaline toxin that sends him into rage mode. And shortly after surviving a close-range bomb blast that puts him completely in a bat sleep, the hero finds himself in a room with a group of cops who want nothing more than to smack him in his stupid Batman face. And they do! It looks painful!
The success of these flinching moments has everything to do with the new suit design. Despite all the horror stories of previous Batman actors being trapped in leather suits or stiff pads that barely allowed them to move, Pattinson’s outfit allows the actor to be light on his feet and move physically. Pain is more than grinding teeth and squinting – you can feel an actor theoretically picking himself up again. That this Batman can fall and then get back up is an achievement in the comic reality setting.
Reeves’ other brilliant idea is to keep Pattinson in a suit for most of the film. Batman standing around a crime scene or showing up at the door of a club normalizes the suit as more than a layer of protection. It’s a second skin required to do business, and seeing it makes cases of bombastic action feel even deadlier. The suit can’t be that protective when Bruce Wayne can do 100 other things in it.
Reeve’s persistent denting of the Dark Knight culminates in this The BatmanBest Scene: In an attempt to flee from the aforementioned group of cops, Batman weaves his way from the ground floor of GCPD HQ to the roof and activates a wingsuit that theoretically allows him to glide through the city’s streets with freedom . Based on the noticeable gulp he takes before the jump, it’s Bruce’s first real freefall – and the actual jump goes well. The landing…not so much since he crashes into a bus and an overpass before hitting the sidewalk and rolling a block. The entire moment is stitched together through visual effects, but Pattinson sells it through pain and agony. Batman, welcome donkey.
Stakes are the unworldly goal of a superhero movie. With characters unable to die and sequels looming, drama can only rely on the aura of danger. To offset the limitations of franchise manufacturing and set that tone, Nolan chased the greater thrill in life made possible by Wayne technology. Conversely, Reeves addresses Pattinson’s performance and the male part of Batman. The writer/director avoids ponderous origin beats by focusing on what happens when a mere mortal gets caught up in street-level crime and swings off the rafters for the first time. The answer is injury – of all kinds, played for wheezes and laughs. I was never quite sure how this version of Batman would survive again, and Reeves’ film was at its liveliest in the worst moments.
Eventually, The Batman It lacks the true lightbulb moments of conclusion to be an effective ticking clock mystery or cohesive film Batman begins or The dark knight, but the moments when Reeves and his writing team question what life as an actual masked vigilante must be like almost make up for it. It’s a much-needed exploration; As the DC and Marvel multiverse becomes more fantastical and intriguing, more sequels will follow The Batman could bring a welcome balance to the landscape. Give me a hero who was out of breath from a punch in the stomach and left limping after an untimely three-story jump. There’s no reason Batman can’t be very relatable.