[Screen It]


(2022) (Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz) (PG-13)

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Superhero Action/Drama: A masked vigilante tries to figure out who's responsible for the murders of various corrupt city officials.

Crime is rampant in Gotham City, and reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne (ROBERT PATTINSON) is doing everything he can to battle it as the masked vigilante known as Batman. He has an ally in police officer James Gordon (JEFFERY WRIGHT) who allows him to co-investigate crime scenes such as the recent murder of the mayor. It's there that he finds a clue in the form of a riddle left for him by the perp, Edward Nashton (PAUL DANO), who's targeting corrupt government officials such as District Attorney Gil Colson (PETER SARSGAARD), and will eventually become known as The Riddler.

With the help of his butler, Alfred (ANDY SERKIS), Bruce tries to find his new nemesis, with that resulting in him meeting the likes of Selina Kyle (ZOE KRAVITZ), a nightclub waitress who moonlights as Catwoman. She works for Oswald Cobblepot (COLIN FARRELL), a.k.a. the Penguin, at a club where such corrupt city officials often congregate, all beholden in one way or another to crime boss Carmine Falcone (JOHN TURTURRO). With more city officials being targeted and more clues being left for Batman, Bruce does what he can to crack the case.

OUR TAKE: 7.5 out of 10

From the day I was born when the Fab Four first appeared on The Ed Sullivan show to three years after I graduated from college and the Berlin Wall was torn down, one actor was known for portraying Batman on the screen and that was Adam West.

Maybe the campiness of that portrayal scared everyone else away for a quarter of a century, but then the floodgates opened after director Tim Burton took the Caped Crusader to the big screen with Michael Keaton as the title character. What followed was the likes of Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck inhabiting the role.

Now the baton has been passed to Robert Pattinson who evoked similar "Him?" reactions as did Keaton's initial casting way back when. Not to mention questions about whether we needed yet another rebooted version of Batman. I'll admit I shared those two doubts back when the project was first announced, much like I reacted when Tom Holland was cast as the new Spider-Man.

As everyone now knows, that turned out more than okay and I can happily report that the same can now be said about "The Batman," although they're entirely different sorts of superhero movies. While Holland's Spidey flicks are, for the most part, a light, fun, and funny romp, director Matt Reeves' reboot is dark, gritty, and brooding.

Of course, that's not exactly new, but as written by Reeves and Peter Craig, the spin this time around is that this is also a serial killer style detective story that will probably play well to both sides of the political divide, what with being hard (and then some) on crime and corrupt authority figures, while also playing as a cautionary tale about taking the law into one's own hands and copycat vigilantism.

Fueled by composer Michael Giacchino's muscular score and featuring an array of creative visuals courtesy of cinematographer Greig Fraser, the film begins with narration by Batman bemoaning the non-stop level of crime in Gotham City where detective James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) goes against the grain and allows the masked vigilante to co-investigate the crimes.

The most recent is that of the mayor, a family man -- so to speak -- who's offed in his place by a serial killer who's removing corrupt government and police figures from the social equation. All while leaving cryptic clues -- or riddles if you will, what with those being supplied by the future Riddler (Paul Dano) -- for Batman to solve.

Those eventually lead Bruce Wayne's alter-ego to a high-end club run by mobster Carmine Falcone (John Turturro). There, Oswald "The Penguin" Cobblepot (a nearly unrecognizable Colin Farrell) deals eye drop-based drugs and Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz) works as a waitress with an ulterior motive and ends up in an interesting "relationship" with the brooding and mysterious superhero.

And what makes it work so well -- above and beyond the contributions of those mentioned above -- is Pattinson who's thankfully escaped what could have been the cinematic whirlpool of appearing in the "Twilight" flicks and established a thriving, non-vampire heartthrob career.

While one might not immediately think of the slim actor for such a part as this, he takes the character, adds interesting dents, divots, and more, and makes it his own. All to the point that you think "Of course, he's perfect for the role," much as occurred with Keaton and, I guess, West in his own campy way, back in their respective days.

It's quite possible "The Batman" might be too dark and disturbing for some viewers, but I thought it was pretty terrific and thus rate it as a 7.5 out of 10.

Reviewed February 24, 2022 / Posted March 4, 2022

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