Check most lists of highly anticipated films of 2022 and it's a sure bet that The Batman featured on them, and quite highly at that. After all, he's arguably the most iconic superhero of all time so any film of his is going to arrive with a major fanfare however, with Matt Reeves helming the project after such stellar work on the Planet of the Apes films, anticipation levels were rocketing through the roof for the Dark Knight's latest cinematic outing.

Two years of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies—Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright)—amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens.
From the opening sequence, Matt Reeves sets the tone perfectly for his take on the iconic Batman, the narration from Robert Pattinson's reasonably inexperienced hero along with the wonderfully edited montage of criminals having fear well and truly struck into them by the presence of the Dark Knight letting the audience know this character is in very capable hands. There's such gravitas to Batman's presence here, the way he slowly stalks his enemies making you damn well believe they'd be scared of him. 

It's the closest the character has come to being in a thriller too, Se7en springing to mind throughout as Reeves and Peter Craig string out a masterful narrative of mystery that puts Batman's detective skills to the ultimate test up against The Riddler. The different approach to the character is so refreshing and ensures the film doesn't just feel like a retread of Christopher Nolan's much lauded trilogy of films in particular, becoming one of the more mature takes on Batman that very much warrants its rating.
This isn't the most experienced Batman but part of the appeal to Matt Reeves' film is watching him become Gotham's protector, the added bonus of not having to watch his parents get gunned down again a blessing. Bruce Wayne wants to continue his family's legacy by bringing justice to the criminals that plague the city however, in doing so, a truth is unravelled that brings an alternate angle to proceedings. A new Batman also means new versions of his gadgets and modes of transport, in particular the Batmobile, which gets a stripped-down new look but incredibly awesome debut as Batman chases Penguin down. 

Reeves and Craig do a great job in making a film that runs for nearly three hours feel like it just flies by, paced to perfection as the stakes are gradually raised throughout. Though, there's sure to be others who feel it to be overlong and boring, which is always a risk when deciding to make such a long film. The film grows in stature aided by Greig Fraser's sumptuous cinematography and Michael Giacchino's wondrous score, sure to be as beloved as the works of Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer have become, his Batman theme feeling synonymous with the character already after just one viewing.
What really makes this take on Batman such an exciting experience is the cast assembled to bring these characters to life. Robert Pattinson will no doubt silence many critics of his casting with a physically dominant performance where he really hones in on Batman's detective side in such an obsessive manner. Being behind a mask means a lot of Pattinson's performance in the cowl is done with his eyes and he does a brilliant job in coveying a growing sense of frustration the deeper he goes into the Riddler's torrid game of cat and mouse. A lot of the film focuses on his time as Batman so there's not as much Bruce Wayne as you'd expect, which is an area that could definitely be explored in sequels.

Right alongside Pattinson's Batman is Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, brought together by chance and making for such an interesting pair as their views on justice differ from one another, the chemistry between the two simmering throughout as they grow closer. Kravitz has played many supporting roles in her career so far but it's her alluring performance in The Batman that is sure to take her career to the next level. Jeffrey Wright features prominently as James Gordon, aiding Batman as they desperately try to stop Riddler before more people have to suffer, and Wright really does make for a great choice with his experience bringing a real sense of authority to the character.

Batman's rogues gallery is full of characters who'd make fantastic villains in a film and in Paul Dano's Riddler, The Batman certainly has a memorable one. Dano is deeply unsettling as Riddler, a serial killer who stalks his prey akin to Batman and live streams his victims as well as addresses to the Gotham public in such a morbid manner. He's a character that really wants to get under Batman's skin and Dano is utterly brilliant at it. Penguin is another villain who makes an appearance, albeit not as much of a major player, and an unrecognisable Colin Farrell has a blast in the role, delivering some particularly playful moments toying with the Dark Knight.

The Batman is a superhero film that delivers plenty of spectacle but is at its best when delving into a character study of Bruce Wayne/Batman, Matt Reeves proving he's a new major player in the world of blockbuster filmmaking. Give him the green light to comlpete a trilogy, now.

Verdict: ★★★★★


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