Matt Reeves’ The Batman was an interesting interpretation of the character and world. However, all in all, the film as a whole did not leave much of an impact. The opening showed so much promise but I think it unfortunately just went downhill from there. The biggest takeaway I get from this film is that the director is clearly skilled at visual directing. The visuals and shots are great and perfect. In that respect, the film is a masterpiece. However, it is in the actual dialogue and plot where the film disappoints. It’s an overall 6 to 7 out of 10 whereas something like Eyes Wide Shut is a 10.
Something that I adored from the very beginning was the opening scene. It was just perfect and sets the tone perfectly. Because we’re looking through this parascope and we don’t even know what we’re looking at. We see this red figure and I originally thought that this is the killer. But it’s just a child in a Halloween costume. All in all, it was done brilliantly, and the Ave Maria in the back was great. The first kill by the Riddler is wonderfully done, as it maintains this creepy eerie feeling. And the first description of the city’s view on Batman was also masterfully done, explaining how criminals are fearful that he’s always lurking in the shadows. However, the film just goes downhill from there.
I wish this film was darker. And there are several reasons why this film was not as dark as it could have been. First of all, I wish that Batman was a more mature Batman. There are many scenes of police officers not trusting the “Bat freak” and a part of me is just bored by that now. We’ve seen these scenes so many times already. “Hey Gordon, you’re going to let this Bat freak into our crime scene?” We know how these scenes play out. Now the director may have personally wanted to explore a younger Batman, which is fine. The only problem is that it takes away from what should be a macabre plot. The director clearly wants to tell this grisly murder story, and I think these scenes of Batman having to argue with Alfred or police officers just takes away from the story. Because I think with such a mature and interesting premise with this deranged but intelligent murderer, it would have been much more interesting to see this film as some noire crime thriller.
The film is promoted on the fact that Batman is a detective, but he does no detective work in the film. This is the problem. And this is why I think the film could have benefitted from cutting out parts that we’ve already seen. Batman barely does any actual crime solving; I wouldn’t even say he’s portrayed as intelligent. It’s mostly just him being led by circumstance from point A to B to then fight more mobsters. Of course, it’s not easy to write an interesting murder story with a clever villain, which is why Se7en is actually quite an admirable achievement.
This leads into my critique on the Riddler. In the first scene we see him, he is perfect. Unspeaking. Lurking. Terrifying. But after that, they just make him a loser. Literally. I think this harmed the film so much, because he completely deflated any tension whenever he would do his “deranged screams.” In my opinion, he talks way too much. I also personally just find this whole story of “exposing the corruption of the city” a tired plot idea. It’s not as though it can’t be done. I wish it was done smarter then, because Riddler does not exude this mad genius air, as he should. Instead, he comes across as some loser who wants to just lash out. I understand that that may have been the point but even so, that’s a bad route to take in my opinion. I think the film would have been so much more interesting if the Riddler was more like Zodiac. His costume is already there. And also, the actual Riddler himself, without the mask, looks much too unthreatening. And it takes away from the film, because you actually can’t stop laughing, especially when he starts to sing Ave Maria.
Another odd choice in terms of the story is that the Riddler, after going on about how he hates the corruption in Gotham, goes on to flood the entire city, which likely killed at least hundreds of innocents, or at least could have. This leads into my critique of how the film has muddled messaging, which the film then tries to correct through much narration in the end, narration that literally spells out the moral of the story. I don’t really know what the film is trying to say. And not all films even have to say anything. But this one clearly wanted to, which, in my opinion, was unnecessary. If this film was a solid crime thriller with a demented killer and a hardened serious, grim Batman chasing him, the film would have been great. But I think it has too much action and not enough of an actual story. The characters are not that interesting. And the villain is not that clever.
The director shows a lot of promise though. He clearly knows how to build scenes and situations. He knows how to build an atmosphere. So he is brilliant at that. I guess my big suggestion would be to just go further with the darkness and seriousness, if you’re already wanting to go there.