Despite being a big fan of the character(movies, comics, collectibles), it took me a few weeks to actually go out and see The Batman. The delay came from the overwhelming 3-hour runtime and not wanting to spend 3 hours and good money on a Batman movie I wasn’t sure would be good. Fortunately, although it did take over 3 hours with trailers, The Batman is a good watch.
While it doesn’t exactly come out and say it, The Batman feels like a rookie Batman possibly in his first year. We got to see a little bit of this in Batman Begins, but it was a pretty and abridged version. The story begins with the murder of a high-ranking official. It continues with more murders which slowly unravel a dark motive. Riddles are left for Batman at each crime scene, and the caped crusader is thrust into a game of cat and mouse with the taunting villain. Along the way, Batman meets some familiar faces from his rogues’ gallery while learning about being a hero, his family, and Gotham’s hidden secrets.
We get a whole new cast, writer, and director to put a completely fresh spin on this cinematic Batman experience. This was needed, as there’s been a lot of mediocre and controversial Batman-related content out in the market recently to detract from the character. The cast all step into their roles well and seem almost wholly devoted throughout. The casting of John Turturro feels a little off just because he has a levity about him that doesn’t fit the darkness of this Gotham. While some fans were unsure about Robert Pattinson’s Batman, his performance is a pleasant surprise, just as with Michael Keaton.
While we get a few repeats like the well-executed Penguin, Catwoman, and Riddler, they still feel unique because of their portrayal and the story’s seriousness in this outing. This movie feels heavily influenced by Christopher Nolan’s more grounded Batman and the vicious slant of the villains there. The rogues don’t stand out like the popular portrayals of the Joker(Nicholson, Ledger). Still, they make their own place around the middle of the cinematic villain’s pack. Bruce Wayne is hardly in the movie, which isn’t bad, but surprising for a three-hour story. Jim Gordon feels like the tentpole for this universe and makes a solid impression as the jaded law of Gotham.
This movie focuses on the detective aspect of Batman, which isn’t always on display in cinematic outings. This may be because the film ends up being very long, following along the trail and explaining everything step by step. The final sequence doesn’t seem that big or grandiose after you’ve been hunting down clues for over 2 hours. The Batman is definitely a unique take on the character as far as the movies go. It’s a breath of fresh air for Batman and superhero fans looking for something other than a remake or another Marvel movie with a recognizable formula.
The problem with The Batman is that it’s too long and lumbering at some points. Camera shots, moments, and scenes often linger too long and grow stale. This is obviously an artistic choice, but it wears on the viewer, and not every viewer has the fortitude of a certain costumed vigilante. Most of the previous Batman movies have a rewatch ability about them either due to action, visuals, or quotable lines, yet it seems unlikely many will often be inclined to rewatch this brooding three-hour detective story.
Overall, The Batman is an entertaining Batman and detective story. It dives into some deep and thought-provoking themes while not quite offending anyone in particular. It brings a cool new aspect of Batman to the screen and shows that a detective superhero can be the focus of a blockbuster film.
The new Batsuit and Batmobile are exciting and look like they will be improved upon in any sequels. There are some strong similarities between this take on Batman and the popular and successful Arkham series of video games. This is further confirmed by a spin-off related to Arkham Asylum already announced. While those Batman games took many enjoyable hours to play through, watching The Batman only takes three. I give The Batman 4 out of 5 chest batarangs.