Did we (the collective We) need another Batman movie? Not really. Did we want another Batman movie? I mean, yeah, of course we wanted one. And even better, this new Batman is freaking terrific. We (again, the collective We) win.
Written by Matt Reeves and Peter Craig and directed by Reeves, the story really doesn’t break any new ground: Batman (Robert Pattinson), already a known presence in Gotham City, teams up with Lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to help find a killer who’s been leaving clues and riddles at each crime scene.
The story is fine, it’s the execution (ahem) that makes it great.
It’s dark, the darkest of all the films to date, gritty and there’s never a wink or giveaway to the audience. It’s also the first Bat-film that (possibly since the original Tim Burton/Michael Keaton joint), shows the character doing detective work. Since his creation by Gil Kane back in 1939, he’s been billed as ‘The World’s Greatest Detective.’ You’d be hard pressed to find any of that in the most recent outings but here, Reeves brings that to the forefront. Besides the gadgets, that’s his other main weaponry.
Along with Gordon, he also gets some much assistance from Selina Kyle aka Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), who’s got a couple of bones to pick with crime bosses Oswald ‘Penguin’ Cobblepot (a truly unrecognizable Colin Farrell) and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro).
Throughout the film though is the haunting specter of Paul Dano’s Riddler. Even when he’s not on screen, you can oddly feel his presence.
The cast is out there great. Farrell is, again, unrecognizable. His physicality, voice… Is it possible that both Reeves and Ferrell are punking us into believing this is really him? Kravitz feels like she’s our link into the real world here, she’s the most normal of the bunch. And Dano takes insanity and menace to a new level. He’s insane, yes, but not outwardly. He’s doughy and looks like an accountant who’s spent too much time indoors. This is not a Riddler you’ve seen before. In fact, all the villains are more complex than we previously seen.
I do wish that the villains had some sort of link – costume-wise – to the comics. Reeves seems to want things based more in reality. Well, as much reality as a Batman film can have.