Last week I had the chance to watch The Batman, written and directed by Matt Reeves and starred by Robert Pattinson as the titular character. I have to say I have mixed feelings about this movie. The movie is a good movie overall, but I don’t know if I can say it’s a “good Batman movie.”
The movie opens with the murder by a mysterious character dressed in a raincoat and a mask. This character is actually The Riddler, and is a very big departure from what you saw in the Schumacher movie or the comics. This first character is a hint to the kind of modifications this movie does to the source material, making it feel less like a comic book movie.
As you watch the movie, you see more and more changes to the source material. For example, Catwoman is basically a biker wearing a full-face bandana with little ears on top and she could very well be any character other than Catwoman (unless “I like cats” is the only thing you need to define Catwoman), and Batman’s care feels like it was taken directly from Fast & Furious. If those changes are a good or bad thing is up to you, and I will share my thoughts later.
The plot of the movie revolves around a series of murders perpetrated by The Riddler, and, in each murder scene, there’s a letter for The Batman. Now that I think about it, this partially feels like a videogame quest from a Batman Arkham game, where you must follow the steps of the antagonist until you reach your goal. However, inside the movie it feels more like a detective movie, specially after you hear The Riddler’s motives to do all these things.
Action-wise, the movie is somewhat lacking. While the Nolan movies didn’t present an acrobatic Batman like the one you see in Batman Arkham games, they had nicely choreographed action sequences. However, The Batman doesn’t really have many of those. I don’t know if it was a deliberate choice, or if Robert Pattinson is just not good for acrobatic or fighting action sequences, but the fights felt very slow and Batman felt very stiff. This is not like in John Wick 3 or Matrix Resurrections, where you can see how Keanu Reeves is struggling to keep up, but his agility is clearly not the same he had during the first Matrix movie, but more like in Marvel movies where you have a lot of cuts to hide the fact those actors can’t fight.
Some people were comparing this movie to Se7en, and the more I watched it the more I saw where the comparisons came from. The scene when they capture The Riddler, and what happens later, felt like it was taken straight from the Se7en movie, where John Doe turns himself in and then takes the detectives to a place where the final part of the movie takes place. In both movies, the cops didn’t catch the bad guy, but rather the bad guy allowed himself to be caught.
While I can appreciate this twist, this is the part that made this movie feel less like a Batman movie for me. In my case, this is the part that somewhat breaks the movie for me, because I don’t see a reason why this should be a Batman movie. In other words, if you swap Batman for any random detective, and rename “The Riddler” to “Cloak” the movie still works just fine, because the protagonist doesn’t “need” to be Batman for the movie to work, and the antagonist doesn’t “need” The Riddler for the movie to work.
Ironically, Batman being the character that stands out works somewhat against the movie. When your antagonist is someone wearing a raincoat and the “sidekick” is a biker woman, you can’t help to think the guy in full bat armor is out of place.
There’s even a deleted scene where Batman met The Joker. In this scene, The Joker is a man with a disfigured face, and Matt Reeves even took the time to explain the origin of the character, even going as far as explaining some disease that had caused his face to disfigure and turn into this permanent smile, because you can’t just have “bombastic” origin story anymore; you need to make it “realistic”. I can only assume Matt Reeves was very inspired by the “realistic take” in Nolan’s Batman movies, or the “grounded in reality” premise of the Joker movie. On one side, even if the Nolan Batman movies were more “realistic” they still felt like Batman. On the other hand, I feel Joker worked because you don’t really have any preconception about who The Joker is supposed to be. I think Matt Reeves just tried to “Out-Nolan Christopher Nolan” and ended up making a movie that was so grounded in reality that has characters that can be swapped without any issue.
I am not saying the movie is bad. If the movie was bad, I would flat out be saying because I have no issues saying something is bad when it’s bad (just look at my Matrix Resurrections review). The Batman is a good movie, but I can’t say it’s a “good Batman movie.” Whenever I have the chance, I will watch the movie again, because it’s a good movie and I am a big Se7en fan. However, the point of a “Batman” movie is to make you say “I could watch this movie over and over because I am a Batman fan”. That’s where the movie fails.