Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Theatrical Release Date: March 4, 2022
Digital Media Release Date: Digital retailers, HBO Max streaming service – April 18, 2022
Physical Media Release Date: May 24, 2022
Description: It’s not just a call… It’s a warning. From Warner Bros. Pictures comes Matt Reeves’ The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson in the dual role of Gotham City’s vigilante detective and his alter ego, reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne.
Two years of stalking the streets as the Batman, 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, Lt. James Gordon – 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. When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle/aka Catwoman, Oswald Cobblepot/aka the Penguin, Carmine Falcone, and Edward Nashton/aka the Riddler. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.
Starring alongside Pattinson (Tenet, The Lighthouse) as Gotham’s famous and infamous cast of characters are Zoë Kravitz (Big Little Lies, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Selina Kyle; Paul Dano (Love & Mercy, 12 Years a Slave) as Edward Nashton; Jeffrey Wright (No Time to Die, Westworld) as the GCPD’s James Gordon; John Turturro (the Transformers films, The Plot Against America) as Carmine Falcone; Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven, Interrogation) as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson; Jayme Lawson (Farewell Amor) as mayoral candidate Bella Reál; with Andy Serkis (the Planet of the Apes films, Black Panther) as Alfred; and Colin Farrell (The Gentlemen, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Oswald Cobblepot.
Reeves (The Planet of the Apes franchise) directed from a screenplay by Reeves & Peter Craig, based on characters from DC. Batman was created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger. Dylan Clark (the Planet of the Apes films) and Reeves produced the film, with Michael E. Uslan, Walter Hamada, Chantal Nong Vo and Simon Emanuel serving as executive producers.
The director’s behind-the-scenes creative team included Oscar-nominated director of photography Greig Fraser (Dune, Lion); Reeves’ Planet of the Apes production designer, James Chinlund, and editor, William Hoy; editor Tyler Nelson (Rememory); and Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran (1917, Little Women, Anna Karenina). The music is by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (the current Spider-Man, Jurassic World and Star Wars films, Up).
Warner Bros. Pictures Presents a 6th & Idaho/Dylan Clark Productions Production, a Matt Reeves Film, The Batman. The film is set to open in theaters March 4, 2022 and will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.
By James Harvey
Bold, brazen and brutal, The Batman is a gripping noir-thriller that delivers a visceral Caped Crusader experience unlike any other. Skirting blockbuster spectacle for a heavy dose of moody atmosphere and deep character work, director Matt Reeves has not only masterfully fashioned what is unquestionably the best live-action interpretation of the Dark Knight Detective to date, but he’s also crafted a spectacular film, period. The Batman is the real deal.
The Batman follows Bruce Wayne during his second year of stalking the streets as the Batman, striking fear into the hearts of criminals and slipping further into the role of Gotham City’s sole embodiment of vengeance. When a killer named The Riddler targets Gotham’s elite, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective and his few allies, including Lt. James Gordon, on an investigation deep into the criminal underworld. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of The Riddler’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, reassess his approach, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.
Please note that while select specific scenes and moments will be touched upon, spoilers will be kept as light as possible. And if you’re looking for the Kids’ WB! The Batman animated series, go here.
Distinctly separating itself from what’s become the model for the modern superhero blockbuster, Reeves trades in bigger-than-life spectacle for the personal drama and gritty violence of a 1970/80s crime thriller (with a dash of David Fincher’s Se7en for good measure). Batman here is tormented, brooding and dishing out brutal vengeance on the decaying streets of Gotham City, but soon finds himself pulled into a murder investigation that threatens to dismantle the corrupt city at its highest levels. There’s no planet-ending event or crazed cosmic being here, just a killer that needs to be stopped. It’s a simple hook, but exceptionally effective.
Writers Reeves and Peter Craig have constructed a complex live-action Batman movie that almost entirely eschews the flashiness of the character’s previous big-screen iterations. There’s plenty of fisticuffs and action, including a jaw-dropping chase sequence midway through, but it’s never excessive or pointless. The Batman is more concerned about its plot, clearly, and can seem a little labyrinthine (what good murder mystery isn’t?), but the film’s near-perfect pacing makes it easy to grasp and surprisingly breezy. Even with a debatebly bloated third act, everything still snaps so well into place. Nothing about The Batman feels superfluous or forced, but instead authentic and lived-in. Reeves has constructed and plotted this movie down to the smallest, finest detail, which is immediately evident as the film’s unnerving opening sequence unfolds and sets the tone.
While The Batman has plenty in common with Tim Burton’s Batman movies and Christpher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, it’s clear the movie pulls much more from an assortment of acclaimed Batman comic book titles (including Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: The Court of Owls, among others) and even Batman: The Animated Series, but Reeves’ molds it all together into something almost wholly unique and refreshing for the long-standing iconic DC Comics hero (and, honestly, desperately needed following the assorted missteps of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League). Heck, the story itself hits each twist and surprise with the shock of a last-page cliffhanger.
Under the cowl for Reeves’ moody detective drama is Robert Pattison and, unsurprisingly, he’s absolutely magnetic and commands the screen as an utterly broken Bruce Wayne. Lost in his crusade of vengeance on the streets of Gotham City, Wayne is a recluse, shunning the playboy billionaire spotlight for a dark, abandoned subway station which doubles as his crime-fighting base of operations. When not suited up, he slips on a shabby disguise and patrols the streets, further blurring the line between Bruce and Bat. Bringing a vulnerability to the character that we haven’t quite seen before on the big screen, Pattison gives us a Batman struggling to keep himself together, and it’s electrifying … but also a little unnerving in its unpredictability. Even though we know where Batman’s story is ultimately going, there’s a real sense here that it can all go sideways in a heartbeat.
Joining Batman on his mission is Alfred Pennyworth, played by Andy Serkis, Lt. James Gordon, played by Jeffrey Wright, and Selina Kyle, played by Zoe Kravitz, all of whom follow the Caped Crusader on his unwavering pursuit of Gotham City’s riddled-obsessed serial killer, played by Paul Dano. Also playing a key role is Colin Farrell, unrecognizable as Oswald Cobblepot.
Wright brings a gruff edge to Gordon, here a younger cop hoping to bring order to Gotham’s chaotic streets, has a great dynamic with Pattinson and occasionally brings some much-needed levity to this rain-drenched mystery. Serkis also plays a key role in Wayne’s evolving role as Gotham’s wrath, offering a paternal and emotional connection to the family Bruce would apparently rather leave behind. But making the largest impact is unquestionably Kravitz, a woman struggling to survive on the streets of Gotham while trying to keep her loved ones safe. Sharply written, Kravitz steals the scene time and time again with her charismatic and bewitching performance as the iconic femme fatale.
Buried under a wealth of prosthetics and make-up, Farrell chews the scenery as Cobblepot, bringing levity and a larger-than-life presence to the movie. It’s a small but hefty role, one which is clearly being teed up for further exploration down the road.
Arguably the biggest departure from the source material is The Batman‘s take on The Riddler, played masterfully by Dano. Instead of the misguided genius compelled to leave clues to his crimes, here he’s a murderous incel fed up with the corruption strangling the life out of Gotham City. While this much darker take on The Riddler will likely rub some the wrong way, and understandably so, it’s a sharp, smart retooling of the character which feels, as the cliche goes, ripped straight from today’s headlines. Dano is exhilarating in the role, nailing the frightening unpredictability to the character in an eye-catching performance, and serves as the perfect foil to Pattison’s troubled avenger.
The world these characters inhabit, crafted under Reeves’ watchful eye, is just as alluring. Gotham City, finally, looks and feels tangible, with its grime nearly dripping off the screen. The production design is top-notch and inviting to get lost in, and it’s stunningly shot by cinematographer Greig Fraser. Through his ingenious use of colors, lighting and shadows, Fraser brings us intimately close to the action, whether we’re joining The Riddler as he targets his next victim, or in the driver’s seat of the Bat-mobile as it tears through the city. In fact, Fraser’s brilliant idea to frame the introduction of the Bat-mobile as something out of a horror film will undoubtedly elicit cheers and gasps from the audience (the entire chase sequence is impressively executed near-exclusively through the use of practical effects as opposed to primarily CGI). Simply put, The Batman looks beautiful.
In a film already packed with knock-out performances and eye-popping visuals, the Oscar-worthy work of composer Michael Giacchino here on The Batman is just on a whole different level. Giacchino absolutely knocks it out of the park, delivering both a score and an instantly-iconic theme on par with Danny Elfman’s and Shirley Walker’s famed contributions to the Bat-mythos with Batman and Batman: The Animated Series, respectively. In fact, Giacchino gives us the best new Bat-theme in decades.
In Reeves’ confident hands, nearly everything about The Batman feels alive and new. All the characters feel authentic and completely realized, and we know exactly who they are within moments of meeting them. It’s a testament to the incredible script, masterful directing and excellent performances. The research and attention to detail is staggering, and it’s clear that Reeves – and the entire cast and crew – have done their homework. More crucially, and unlike other directors before, Reeves gets these characters, and understands that a better Batman is not one driven by anger and vengeance, but by compassion and a drive to make things better. To give hope, basically. It’s a crucial character point that so many other takes miss entirely, but here Reeves embraces it. Heck, The Batman is basically a study of that iconic line from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm: “What will vengeance solve?”
It seems pretty hyperbolic to call The Batman a “masterpiece,” but it feels like an apt descriptor (if it’s not a masterpiece, then it’s pretty damn close). It’s a mesmerizing (even terrifying) psychological crime thriller that, even though it does tread some familiar ground on occasion, ultimately creates something new and exciting for the franchise. Reeves has fashioned something truly special here, and sets the bar high for the superhero genre going forward. Impeccably crafted and rich with compelling twists, authentic characters and a strong, clear idea of what makes our troubled protagonist tick, The Batman easily ranks as one of the best, if not the best, live-action outings for the Caped Crusader yet. Must See!
Available on 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, soundtrack also available
The Riddler: Year One Mini-Series from DC Comics
The Batman Comic Collection from DC Comics
The Art of The Batman Hardcover from Harry N. Abrams Publishing
“The Batman – The Riddler: Year One” Comic Book Talkback (Spoilers)
“The Batman” Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
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