Warning: tons of THE BATMAN spoilers to follow.
THE BATMAN is a big ol ambitious blockbuster of a movie that has moments of greatness but is ultimately waylaid by the fact it has too much say and takes far too long to get to its point.
It’s like the first 10 minutes of intros to an interview-style podcast — GET TO IT, ALREADY, I found myself thinking.
THE BATMAN’S THEME
This is a movie that has a lot going on thematically.
As you must know by now, The Batman takes place two years into Bruce Wayne’s tenure as The Dark Knight.
This sophomore Batman is one who thinks his fists and fists alone can make a dent in a city that seems to be circulating the drain, despite the presence of the Masked Crusader, and despite the fact police took down mobster Sal Maroni’s drug trade in a French-Connection level drug case.
The movie is essentially about Batman’s journey going from blunt force instrument to piercing arrow of hope and resilience. There is a scene of stunning greatness toward the end of this film where The Batman leads a group of people to safety, and a voiceover kicks in that mentions specifically the words “hope” and “resilience.”
Those words are not used by coincidence, people.
This is a movie that is clearly commenting on the state of our society right now, two years into a global pandemic, six years into the most divisive political climate the US has known in four generations, and; less than two years after an angry mob stormed our nation’s capital (anybody notice the angry misguided thugs in both “Joker” and “The Batman”?).
Gotham citizens, like many of us, are looking for leaders to guide us out of this muck, and mire, and despair.
Heady stuff for a superhero movie.
NOT ENOUGH ACTION?
THE BATMAN reaches popcorn movie heaven in a car chase where The Penguin, re-imagined here essentially as DeNiro’s Al Capone from “The Untouchables” and played by Colin Farrell, attempts to outrun the Batmobile, re-imagined here as a ’72 Cutlass Supreme with a jet engine tied to the back. There’s a joy to the car chase, and Farrell’s reactions to the action almost seem to be from another, less ponderous “Batman” movie.
I wanted more of that chaos, and less . . . yes, less talk of THOMAS and MARTHA WAYNE.
There’s is a mass psychosis taking place with this movie, in which every review I read mentions the fact this is not an origin story, so we don’t have to sit through the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents for the millionth time.
BUT THOMAS AND MARTHA WAYNE loom all over the script — they are the albatross that weighs on Batman’s soul — and it . . . is . .. tedious, people.
I AM DONE HEARING ABOUT BRUCE WAYNE’S PARENT.
STOP IT WITH THE PARENTS, DC.
WE GET IT.
NOT THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, PEOPLE
There is a mass psychosis happening with people saying this is a “great detective movie,” as if THE BATMAN is on par with the intricate and engrossing plots of “Chinatown,” “LA CONFIDENTIAL” and “TRUE DETECTIVE, SEASON ONE.”
Yes, BATMAN and future Commissioner Gordon are a great team. Yes, there are many crime scenes during this three hour movie to which both men attend. YES THERE is a great scene early on involving a THUMB DRIVE.
BUT THIS IS ALSO A DETECTIVE MOVIE WHERE A CORRUPT D.A., SEEMINGLY, IN THE WORDS OF CHRISTOPHER PENN FROM RESERVOIR DOGS — JUST DECIDES OUT OF THE F’ING BLUE — TO REVEAL MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF CRIMINAL INFORMATION TO A YOUNG WOMAN HE HAS JUST MET, WHO BY THE WAY, IS WEARING A CONTACT LENSE CAMERA.
THIS SCENE IS NOT A SCENE FROM A GOOD DETECTIVE STORY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. I HATE TO BURST YOUR BUBBLE, BUT CHARACTERS SUDDENLY REVEALING HIDDEN INFO WITHOUT CAUSE IS NOT THE HALLMARK OF A GREAT MOVIE MYSTERY.
But, the D.A. is played by Peter Sarsgaard, ONE OF OUR GREAT CHARACTER ACTORS.
AND SPOILER ALERT: HERE’S THE MYSTERY
Riddler is killing corrupt people because he’s weird
A Wayne family fund was plifered by corrupt cops, politicians and leaders. John Turturro is a mobster who worked with police to get another mobster arrested.
THERE: WHY DID IT TAKE A THREE HOUR MOVIE TO RESOLVE A PLOT THAT SIMPLE? WHY IS IT SO CONFUSING? WHY DIDN”T IT HOLD MY ATTENTION?
OH, I KNOW WHY. BECAUSE IT SPENDS 20 MINUTES REHASHING WHETHER BRUCE WAYNE’S DAD WAS A GOOD GUY OR NOT.
First there’s an accusation about Bruce’s parents from The Riddler. WHO CARES? Then Bruce goes to see the mobster. WHO CARES Then Bruce goes to see Alfred to talk about it. WHO CARES TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK
There is a mass psychosis happening here, people.
How many articles you have read comparing THE BATMAN to Seven or, if you’re to dumb to have watched Seven, SAW? How many times have you read that this movie sort of plays like a David Fincher movie? How many articles or Tweets have you seen comparing The Riddler to a killer from a horror movie.
GUESS WHAT, THIS MOVIE WAS MASHED TOGETHER FROM THE PARTS OF OTHER, BETTER MOVIES. JUST GO SEE THOSE MOVIES.
GO WATCH SEVEN AGAIN.
I SWEAR TO GOD THIS MOVIE ALSO SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN INFLUENCED BY SIDNEY LUMET, WHO MADE MOVIES ABOUT CORRUPTION AND HOW CORRUPTION ROTS THE SOUL. THE BATMAN IS THE CHILDREN’S VERSION OF A SIDNEY LUMET MOVIE.
GO RENT “SERPICO,” “PRINCE OF THE CITY,” “NIGHT FALLS ON MANHATTAN,” “BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD.”
YOU’VE PROBABLY READ PAUL DANO IS ELECTRIC AS THE RIDDLER. I WILL NOW READ FROM MY SCRIPT AS PAUL DANO AS THE RIDDLER: “Mmph mah muf muffled mmmp.”
YOU CAN’T HEAR THE RIDDER BECAUSE OF HIS MASK!
ALSO, I FEEL LIKE THE SHEER AMOUNT OF ARTS AND CRAFTS I USED TO MAKE CUSTOM GREETING CARDS WOULD HAVE LED POLICE TO ME SOONER BUT WHATEVER. INVEST IN HALLMARK.
Now to conclude, I will say the performances in this movie are great.
Flawless, really. Pattison’s a great actor and I love the fact we get to hang out with “Batman.” NO ONE CARES ABOUT BRUCE WAYNE, so I like that there isn’t a ton of him.
Zoe Kravitz is electrifying. She’s a stunning physical presence, and the woman seems to emote with just her fingernails. I’m not sure we’ve seen someone with that much star power. She is in peak movie star mode here, and she probably gives the best performance in the movie.
But at the end of day, THE BATMAN is a very . . . noble . .. . failure.
Click play below to listen to our podcast on The Batman, featuring an interview with Steven Christina Jr. of the podcast Super Retro Throwback Reviews: