My main takeaway from this movie is: A very moody film that was too dark (literally) and too long but Robert Pattinson does a good job as Batman.
Objective rating: 3/5 because as a noir thriller it is well-made and effective.
Subjective rating: 2.5/5 because I found it hard to like yet I felt there was potential that wasn’t fully utilised.
- Robert Pattinson was good casting for the sort of Batman/Bruce Wayne they intended for this noir-esque movie. He has the right look and vibe for this slightly younger but moodier Bruce Wayne. I might actually prefer him to Christian Bale as Batman.
I’m also VERY thankful he didn’t have to do some silly gravelly voice when in his Batman guise. That was always one of the more irritating aspects of Christian Bale’s version. (I can’t remember whether Ben Affleck’s Batman did that or not.) I suppose Batman’s taciturn disposition and Bruce Wayne’s secluded life meant that people did not often hear him speak in either mode so his voice was less likely to be recognised by random crooks or even by Lt. Gordon.
- Leaning into the mystery aspect was a good choice and I appreciated Batman showing some distinct intelligence at the beginning. (It unfortunately didn’t last very long.)
- It made a good point about how Batman’s focus on vengeance created a monster by inspiring others to likewise focus on revenge. Instead of bettering Gotham, he’d inadvertently made it worse, and I appreciated that the movie showed Batman coming to that realisation.
- Michael Giacchino’s score was pretty good. I didn’t know Giacchino wrote the score at first and just thought there was a vaguely familiar feel to it. When I looked it up later, I went, “Ohhhh. Giacchino.” I haven’t yet figured out what makes Giacchino’s music recognisable to me but it made a lot of sense that it was written by Giacchino. The thumping bass that was in many of the pieces was very appropriate for backing and ramping up the suspense. I did not love some of the contemporary songs that were in a few scenes but generally the score was good.
- I didn’t like this but I admit that it was very effective: The Riddler was very creepy both when he was an anonymous masked man and when he was his more innocuous-looking normal self. The smile he threw at Batman was creeeeepy.
- The movie was too long. It has a runtime of 2 hours and 56 minutes! Geez. I still maintain that apart from Lord of the Rings (and Avengers: Endgame), no movie should be anywhere near that long. There was a car chase in the middle that felt like it went on forever and should have been only half as long as however long it actually was. The shots of villain’s cards for Batman were also just too long and slow. Slow close-ups of the cards, Batman sloooowly reaching for the cards… Too slow. Just pick up the card already.
There was also a certain character and subplot that ultimately felt relatively peripheral to the story and it could have all been left out…
- That character is Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman. She wasn’t quite superfluous, but she wasn’t necessary either. Yes, her storyline was connected to the main one but if they had left her and her subplot out completely, it could still have worked. Adjust the story to not depend on Selina’s assistance in spying at the secret club. That was really her main role – to give Batman information on which big shots were at the club. Her vendetta against Falcone wasn’t necessary. Batman already has his own reasons to dislike Falcone; Selina’s grudge against Falcone didn’t add anything to the story. The budding romance (if you can call it that) between Selina and Batman was also… Not especially convincing. And it was such a minor element it might as well not have been there.
Cutting Selina Kyle out of this movie would have made it more compact and improved the pacing.
- The movie was too dark – literally and figuratively. From a visual standpoint, at parts I felt like I was blind because it was so difficult to make out what was in the frame at some parts. This movie’s artistic style falls into the category of “so monochrome or desaturated that it might as well have been shot in black-and-white.” I could barely see anything in many scenes. It was as though they’d decided that at any given point, half of the image on screen must be grey or black. (The cinema’s projector might also not have been in the greatest shape, which further killed the contrast of the image and made it even more difficult to see.) Even the few scenes set in the daytime just looked… Grey. I can’t recall any actual bright daylight scenes.
The movie felt very heavy. Gloomy. Weighed down. Nolan’s Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises were also gloomy and moody but this takes it to a whole other level. Take the serious mood of the story and combine it with the slow-ish pacing and the overbearingly dark visual style and the solemnity is magnified tenfold, resulting in a significantly depressed feel.
The filmmakers were clearly aiming for an especially dark take on the film noir genre and they succeeded. But I don’t like it. I can see how people who enjoy gritty, noir detective thriller movies would enjoy it though.
- The thriller angle of the movie I really did not like because some parts – especially regarding the Riddler’s victims – were just a bit too gruesome for me (granted, I have a relatively low threshold for that sort of thing). As I watched this in the cinema and couldn’t fast-forward parts, I solved the problem by closing my eyes here and there.
- The downside of the mystery angle was that Batman spent too much time “behind” in the mystery and the intelligence he displayed in the first murder investigation dissipated as the movie went on. It always felt like the Riddler was one step ahead of him, and the Batman was always trying to catch up to him. It undercut his initial display of intelligence. In the second half, it felt like a lot of the clues were solved by luck rather than intelligence.
- I didn’t like that the Riddler somehow knew Batman’s real identity. I thought him telling Batman that his next target would be Bruce Wayne was an interesting twist. It would’ve been a lot more intriguing if that had been pure coincidence instead of him actually being aware of the Batman and Bruce Wayne connection. (Update, 8 April: Apparently there are opinions that Riddler did not actually know Batman and Bruce Wayne are the same person. Hmmm. If it was so, then that scene was terribly set up or set up to mislead the audience in a way that is more annoying than it is clever.)
- Perhaps the saddest mistake was that they did not fully expand on the idea that this Bruce is more Batman than Bruce Wayne, and make this an origin story for Bruce Wayne.
From the way the story played out and from the various hints dropped throughout, I was convinced that the movie would end with Bruce realising that he should take over the business properly and be the steward of his father’s Renewal fund so that it can’t be misused by others again. He ought to have realised that he can’t just be Batman, but he has to be Bruce Wayne also.
Alas, that didn’t happen.
(I wrote about 500 words on this point alone and then decided to split it off into a separate post altogether.)
- Batman and Gordon not cottoning on immediately to a bat as the answer to “el rata alada” was so stupid. They were fixated on the “rat” part of “rat with wings” and taking it to refer to a “stool pigeon”, or an informant. I immediately thought: A bat looks like a mouse with wings…
- When Batman got knocked out by the blast at the memorial hall, it appears that the police just carried him all the way to the station and stood over him while they debated whether or not to pull of his mask. Why didn’t they just rip off his mask immediately?? That made no sense at all.
- Nothing about this movie was funny… This is either a pro or a con depending on who you ask. I consider it a disadvantage but too much humour would also have been very weird for the tone of this movie. The very few funny bits seemed to be accidentally amusing rather than purposefully humourous.
- I have nothing to say about the production design or costume design of this movie because I couldn’t see eighty percent of it clearly.
- Colin Farrell was unrecognisable as Penguin. I was shocked to see the credits. Talk about good makeup and prosthetics. hahaha
- I haven’t read other reviews of The Batman yet but I’m going to do so. And I want to see if anyone mentions how very unnecessary it was for Batman to watch Selina Kyle strip down to her underwear and put on her catsuit.
- The Malay subtitles on this could have been better. Every time Batman said, “I am vengeance,” the subtitles read “Saya Batman.” “I am Batman” is absolutely not the same as “I am vengeance.”