Film Reviews

The Batman (2022)

It’s not often that movies are actually filmed in and take place primarily underwater but if done right, it feels like the perfect angle for a horror movie.

Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s The Deep House gives you just enough time to take in one big breath before diving head first into the cold waters of a French man made lake for the rest of its runtime.

In this particular lake is an abandoned mansion that conjures a young haunted travel vlogging couple, Ben and Tina played by James Jagger and Camille Rowe, to monetarily explore its eerie presence.

Expecting to find only the large structure left standing on the lake floor, what they find inside is much more than expected and with absolutely no means of escape. This mansion is enormous and that’s clear when the couple descend upon it and swim around its exteriors but once inside the completely boarded up place, the many creepy rooms still mostly preserved in completely surrounding watery darkness makes you feel uncomfortably claustrophobic.

The dark and sinister history of the Montegnac Mansion is awakened by the arrival of its latest guests and so this aquatic exploration quickly turns into a horrifying race against time and the terrors that still lurk within this sunken purgatory. Sanity levels deplete even faster than the supplied oxygen tanks do and it fully illustrates wave after wave of dreadful and hopeless panic.

Bustillo and Maury have collaborated on a handful of horror movies since the early 2000s. From their first and still best work on the 2007 film Inside, each movie sadly seemed to get worse from there, especially their 2017 Leatherface film. This movie is easily their 2nd best movie so far. The Deep House is a rather straightforward horror movie but with technical design that is just exceptionally incomparable to any other horror movie out there.

Check it out on Hulu or Paramount Plus.

**Major Spoilers Ahead***

It’s been a long 3 years since its initial announcement but Matt Reeves The Batman starring Robert Pattinson is finally here. exhale.

It’s hard to believe this is actually the first standalone live action Batman movie since Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises, 10 years ago!

But the last time we got this character on the big screen was in a controversial little film called Justice League back in 2017! In the midst of whatever DC was trying to accomplish with their own cinematic universe, its version of the Justice League and their beefcake of a Batman played by Ben Affleck (Actually not a terrible portrayal in my opinion) who has obviously since left his role, many thought the announcement of a completely different Batman movie, set in its own standalone universe when the DCEU hadn’t even ceased to exist yet was excessively strange yet most, including myself, were curious to see what would come of it. What led us to this new interpretation of Batman is a long and confusing stretch of behind the scenes back and forth, which we might never hear the full story.

Even if The Batman had just looked awful in its lead up, like some confusingly cruel mistake (which it never really did), people were going to show up to see The Batman regardless and they sure did. Luckily The Batman is utterly badass because it’s a movie that won’t be going away any time soon.

What is there not to love about this movie? There is almost too much to even say about this smash hit, it’s overwhelming to cover every inch. But I’ll try my best to cover some of my favorite aspects.

The list of directors tasked with bringing Batman to life on screen in standalone films is short. Martinson, Burton, Schumacher, Nolan and now Reeves.

Director, Writer, Producer Matt Reeves knew his assignment, saw what already exists for Batman on the big screen yet knew him and his team had something special and fresh here. That’s calling your shot. His and Peter Craigs writing laid the groundwork and together, Matt Reeves’ vision and direction and DP Greig Frasers visual prowess brought this latest interpretation of Batman to sensational life.

It’s a dark and gritty asskicking vigilante detective thriller, even darker than any of the Nolan-Bale titles but with trails of clever humor that slips through the cracks of its concrete corruption. 

Some of the coolest displays of superhero action takes place in this brilliantly choreographed movie as if it is the definitive Batman Ballad (of course it isnt). But it’s clear already that it holds some substantial weight in not just the characters’ existence on film but the genre as a whole. Every single fight, chase, and mysterious twist and dramatic turn is executed with a laser focus attention for every bit of detail.

In a film with plenty of memorable displays of adrenaline pumping combat, the shining moment of action has to be the glorious chase sequence where Batman loses all control and recklessly chases the Penguin through Gothams backstreets and a congested highway during a dark rainstorm. It’s a loud and proud stretch of the movie and I could watch it on repeat for a very long time. Who doesn’t love spectacular displays of vehicular mayhem. 

I dig the choice of vehicles they went with for this interpretation of Batman. The Batrod is a ferocious hotrod with more than enough horsepower and is able to inflict a fair amount of sustainable damage to those who oppose it and the Batbike, a speedy little motorbike perfect for stealthily zipping through the crowded Gotham city streets when needed. It’s on these commutes through the city that we often get a look at this world the team behind The Batman envisioned and has now brought to life.

This version of Gotham City feels like the closest to reality, but the danger it possesses is tenfold. Everyone sucks and everything sucks. It feels like a near future version of Nolan’s Gotham and even Todd Phillips most recent Joker film.

It’s a neglected and corrupt city encompassed by a dense Noir veil and Matt Giachinos powerful score washes over everything. It’s a score that has been on repeat since the night I saw it. 

The city instantly swallows you up in it. It’s one that might make you want to play the Arkham video game titles again, exploring every inch of it. But it’s all too easy to become an innocent target in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But lurking in the shadows of the darkest corners in Gotham is our latest caped bat vigilante choosing his own deserving target very carefully or so he thinks.

The list of actors who have played the live action role of Gotham City’s man dressed like a bat is also short. There has been West, Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney, Bale, (Can’t truly count Affleck) now Pattinson.

Robert Pattinson steps into one of the toughest characters to portray on the big screen. In hindsight he fits in perfectly with the rest of the Batman alumni in looks yet this is a version of him we haven’t really seen before. His opening monologue acts as our informal introduction. 

“Thursday, October 31st. The city streets are crowded for the holiday. Even with the rain. Hidden in the chaos is the element, waiting to strike like snakes. And I’m there too. Watching. 2 years of nights have turned me into a nocturnal animal. I must choose my targets carefully. It’s a big city. I can’t be everywhere. But they don’t know where I am. We have a signal now, for when I’m needed. When that light hits the sky, it’s not just a call- it’s a warning. To them. Fear is a tool. They think I’m hiding in the shadows. But I AM the shadows. I wish I could say I’m making a difference, but I’m not. Murder, robberies, assault- 2 years later, they’re all up. And now this. This city’s eating itself. Maybe it can’t be saved, but I have to try.”

Talk about a precise intro that’ll give you goosebumps.

Any speculation that he would fail in the role can finally be laid to rest 6 feet under the dark surface of Gotham City. People have compared Pattinsons version to the typical Emo, with his somber attitude, a skinny build, black on black everything, the black eye shadow, his dark and dreary demeanor but he is more so a goth than anything else. He certainly puts the Goth in Gotham City. It’s an aesthetic that surrounds him like some dark cloud. He lives in a tower apartment decked out in some wicked looking gothic architecture, he tinkers away in his underground detective batcave and has no real family to call his own.

By day, he’s a fresh faced city playboy yet he’s clearly a reclusive, broken and tormented Bruce Wayne who doesn’t make many public appearances. And by night he’s a nocturnal vigilante hellbent on ridding the city of its lowest of crimes by night, oh and some detective work on the side. He’s still fairly new to that facet of his character and it’s clear. 

He isn’t some beefcake Bat, he’s just a lean mean asskicking machine. His suit is exactly like it should be, nothing flashy or bulky, it’s just sleek bullet proof armor that looks great and gets the job done. That wing suit is pretty hilarious though.

Batman has only been fighting petty crime in this corrupt city for 2 years. All who know his name, fear his existence, just as they should. But we find the character in some sort of moral and existential sophomore slump.

It’s in this period of time that Batman faces his real first test in The Riddler. Played by Paul Dano, an actor who can step into more comedic roles with ease, this was yet another odd casting choice that many immediately started to picture as a modern version of what Jim Carrey did with the character but boy were those assumptions dead wrong. We’ve even seen glimpses of what Dano is capable of on screen as some rather dark, twisted or misunderstood characters but the version of The Riddler he was responsible for portraying is easily his most terrifying role yet. He’s still all riddle me this riddle me that but in the most disturbingly grounded way. 

In reality, this villain is a caucasian orphan turned mentally unwell incel who was long forgotten and neglected by the Gotham City system that was once led by political powerhouse Thomas Wayne. He grows up to be this suffocatingly masked terrorist straight out of the most terrifying horror thrillers. With disturbing riddles that accompany deadly traps, his character is much like that of the Zodiac Killer, Saw’s John Kramer or Se7ens John Doe. 

What appears to only be The Batman’s first test as Gotham’s only known vigilante slowly derails as more of a Bruce Wayne wake up call and it’s great. It takes a bit for him to realize it but The Riddler is on a personal mission to expose how tainted Bruce’s privileged upbringing actually was, while the person underneath this evil persona was left to rot away in false promises and city wide corruption, again a system that was led by Bruce’s father. These two men have more in common than Bruce would care to admit. Batman slowly devolves into an animal hellbent on serving cold hard asskicking justice at any cost as if he could drown out the truth.

I’m a big fan of how it covers the history of Bruce and the Wayne-Arkham family backstory. Instead of some brief and tired flashback, it instead incorporates the lies, cover ups and the tragedies that come from it all into the story as an overarching theme that The Riddler can use as a weapon he knows all too well. You could flip a coin and one side be the Wayne bloodline and the other side Arkham and either side it lands on doesn’t bode well for the legacy that Bruce has to live with. It’s the perfect fuel to keep the mystery burning to the very end. I’m excited to see how this plays into the evolution of the character in the sequels.

The Riddlers Wayne mind games were only one piece of this catastrophic puzzle though. His master plan is much much more. While he digs deep into Bruce Waynes flawed roots, its enough to distract The Batman from the van bombs he’s planted all around the city and he’s not alone in his mission. With him are his cult of online goons who feel the same way he does. Sounds eerily familiar.

And so after getting voluntarily arrested, The Riddler is safely tucked away in an Arkham prison, and he conveniently has a window view to watch his work successfully go up in all of its explosive glory. The city begins to literally flood and his army of internet incels then storm the Gotham arena where thousands of its population are trapped by the incoming water, and with it a nightmarish wave of domestic terrorism.

While it’s nothing inventive for this IPs cinematic history, it does a fine job exhibiting a deadly threat on a grand scale, solidifying the severity of its villain but also providing Batman with his biggest rescue operation yet. One by one he fights the riddler knockoffs and then leads the innocent through the darkness and flooding to safety. This entire act of the movie comes relatively close to previous Batman events like the hospital explosion in The Dark Knight, or the stadium destruction in The Dark Knight Rises just to name two of The IPs more infamous moments.

There are once again plenty of other familiar Batman faces living in this Gotham City. Among the somewhat trustworthy ally’s is Alfred who is now played by Andy Serkis. His presence is rather minimal in this movie and he should be back in the following sequels.

Zoe Kravitz plays Selina Kyle aka Catwoman, a traumatized young woman who has her eyes set on taking down her mobster biological father at all costs and getting some long deserved compensation to once and for all flee this damaged place once and for all.

I was hoping there wouldn’t be any of the romance between Bruce and Selina and it seemed like that would be the case at first but they just couldn’t resist squeezing that sexual tension into the story. Naive of me to think. But overall, Kravitz plays an enigmatic Catwoman nicely.

Then there is of course Lt. James Gordon played by Jeffrey Wright. Batman’s investigative partner and the first to truly rely on his help to rid Gotham City of its persistent criminal activity. While he sometimes feels left with nothing vital to do, he consistently represents what little authoritative virtue is left on this hellhole island. 

Crime is the backbone of Gotham city though and without it there would be no Batman. While The Riddler is more of the chaotic evil in the city, the mob of Gotham serves as the Lawfully evil threat. This infectious body of criminals has firm control of Gotham and that’s nothing new. Led by Mobster Carmine Falcone, played by the great John Turturro, he owns a hefty number of gothams law enforcement, from lowly cops to higher DA figures and the city at large is essentially kept in check by fear and the highly addictive eye drop drug. The history between Falcone and Bruce is interestingly revealed to us thanks to of all people, The Riddler who takes it upon himself to rope the worst of these scumbags into his own little sick plan.

Never too far from Falcones side is Oz/The Penguin played by Colin Farrell or so were told. His makeup completely transforms the actor into this wise cracking, underground club owning, right hand mob-man. Great interpretation of this character and he fits into this version of Gotham perfectly. He should be back for even more screen time in the sequels.

Aside from some comparable thematic Batman Begins retreading, the weakest part of this movie for me is its indirect introduction of The Joker in the Arkham prison, befriending The Riddler. Barry Keohghan plays this figure simply credited as “Unseen Arkham Prisoner”.  We can safely assume this will be the titular character, but whether he goes on to headline one of the next entries in Reeves Batman installations is yet to be confirmed though. It didn’t immediately hit me like oh this is going to be even better than this one! It’s mostly a combination of this movie setting such a high bar for itself and the late Heath Ledger perfectly portraying the character in the Nolan trilogy. So this doesn’t immediately feel like the next best move but if it is, Matt Reeves is apparently the man to prove us wrong. We will all be eagerly asking ourselves what’s next and how to do you top this,

Other than that, The Batman should easily land somewhere towards the top 5 of the growing list of live action stand alone features. It’s definitely one of DCs finer movies and it’s one of the genre’s best titles to date.

I don’t want to sound like I’m overreacting but if a film like Joker can find its way into Best Picture and Best Actor conversations, The Batman and its teams should have no problems doing the same. There is still a lot of time left in 2022 but it’s impossible to envision next year’s award season without numerous nominations for The Batman in probably every single category, it’s that strong of a motion picture.

But the absolute best thing about The Batman? It’s a Halloween movie!!!!! Well it takes place during this fun time of the year anyways. Close enough!

You will want to see this movie on the biggest screens because it’s a spectacle to behold. From its bold direction, the stunning cinematography, the powerful score to the phenomenal performances. The hype is no hyperbole. The Batman is an enthralling 3 hours of pure cinematic captivation from start to finish.

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