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The Batman is the biggest yet: Movie Review

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

He’s bigger, badder, and battier: fans looking for impressive spectacle and jaw-dropping size, even in the smallest moments, will surely be impressed with The Batman. It’s greatly entertaining, but it’s a blockbuster that’s equally beautiful and bloated.

After the runaway success of Spider-Man: No Way Home both over Christmas and though the last month as cinemas have re-opened, it seems appropriate that another superhero story would fill its shoes to be the next behemoth success.

Director Matt Reeves’ unsettling and slick modernist-noir style is reminiscent of his last two films (the two most recent Planet of the Apes movies) which were successful in their own right. Consistency in large-scale studio filmmaking like this is rare, and credit is due in effectively organizing this enormous movie.

This new story, clearly a launchpad for a new trilogy of films, tracks multiple stories that ultimately culminate in Batman (Robert Pattinson, first famous as a vampire in Twilight and now starring as a bat superhero) trying to solve a set of murders from The Riddler (Paul Dano) before he triggers a city-wide crisis.

Most curiosity from new versions of famous properties like this lie in the casting; Pattinson does a serviceable job as Bruce Wayne, but his supporting team are the real scene-stealers.

Dano is an excellent Riddler, grounding himself with a Zodiac-killer complex that’s gleefully scary to watch. Jeffrey Wright is also a smart and compassionate Gordon, helping Bruce solve the case, but the biggest credit goes to Zoë Kravitz as Selena Kyle, or Catwoman - this is the best version of the character, and Kravitz is flawless throughout.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

If you’re worried about superhero overkill at the multiplex, the good news is most of The Batman plays like a traditional crime thriller than your usually action flick. There’s a strong balance of fight scenes, intimate conversations, quiet puzzles for the audience to solve and a few impressive stunts.

If you’re worried about an overkill of Batman content, however, that makes sense. This is the eighth big-screen Batman movie in the last 15 years, not including another four including principal Batman characters (like Joker and Harley Quinn, though neither of them appear in this film.)

The biggest problem with The Batman, however, is how big it actually is. The three hour run time is stuffed with a large cast of characters, three villains, several plot lines, multiple grand-scale showdowns for Batman to face and multiple resolutions to tie it all together.

While the story is still cohesive, this story would’ve been better served as two or three individual movies instead of one mammoth sized one. A sequel is blatantly set up at the end of this film, and you don’t even need to wait for a post-credits scene to see it.

Instead of a movie or a new trilogy, a story of this length and complexity is maybe best suited to high-profile television. But that would rob the joys of seeing this work on the big screen. It’s a fun visit to the theatre, but the slow pacing means you don’t need to worry if you need a bathroom break in the middle - lots of people at my screening did this without a second thought.

Overall, Reeves’ new take on The Batman is an ambitious film that succeeds in its themes, intrigue and characterizations. While it’s also entertaining for most of the run time, there’s simply too much run time for it to be truly great.

The Batman

7 out of 10

PG, 2hrs 56mins. Crime Action Mystery Epic.

Co-written and Directed by Matt Reeves.

Starring Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano, John Turturro, Colin Farrell and Andy Serkis.

Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, 5 Drive-In, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.