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The Bat is Back

Reviewed and written by Oli Phillips

“Haven’t we already had enough Batman films?” – Random Critic
‘No” – Audiences after watching this film

The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson (Batman) is a relentless case study of mental fortitude in the face of adversity, blended with a showcase of beautifully dark cinematography. Where Christopher Nolan’s first entry into his Dark Knight series of Batman films depicts a heroic coming of age story with the 2005 film Batman Begins, The Batman’s Director and screenwriter Matt Reeves has opted for a much grittier reboot of the character. This film depicts Batman in a brooding uphill battle against not just this film’s chilling villain played by Paul Dano (The Riddler) but the city of Gotham itself.

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Fear not, however, for, despite this very grim portrayal of events, one shouldn’t go into this film thinking it will be a downer, but rather an entertaining neo-noir detective thriller that feels less superhero and more detective vigilante. With that being said, The Batman is definitely for the older members of the family. The film is rated M by the Australian Classification board and it comes recommended for more mature audiences, but if you happen to have an older family with teenagers and older in the household,  this film may be a worthwhile venture for you.

Of course, with a new Batman film comes one big question, how’s the new Batman? Well, Robert Pattinson’s portrayal is easily the most tortured and vulnerable Bruce we’ve ever seen. There is a rawness to this portrayal and in some cleverly composed scenes, the man looks downright haunted by his own history with trauma. But is he too brooding? I feel multiple viewings of this film may be required to determine this, and in all honesty, this film is very much worth watching more than once. Director Matt Reeves said in a recent interview with Empire Magazine that he and Pattinson wanted to model this interpretation of Bruce Wayne after the late Kurt Cobain of the legendary hard rock band Nirvana. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure this angle was something  Batman fans needed, but  Reeves and Pattinson certainly nailed what they were going for. Is Pattinson’s the best Batman? It’s subjective. This is certainly the most time we’ve ever seen an actor in the costume but I’m not sure his is my favorite, but the performance and character aimed for certainly is masterful. However, you should judge this for yourself.

Another stand-out is Jeffery Wright in the role of Detective James Gordon, and it has to be said that watching Batman and Gordon work together is quite possibly the best on-screen partnership ever seen with these two characters. It is a real joy to watch.

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Another stand-out performance is Collin Farrell in the role of Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin), who is unrecognizable due to both his outstanding performance and transformative prosthetics.

Paul Dano plays the main villain, The Riddler, in this film and is quite unnerving. He is well cast for the role and delivers some quite unhinged and suitably chaotic dialogue. Sadly, despite his masterful performance, he doesn’t have quite the screen presence of other Batman foes like that of a Heath Ledger, Tom Hardy, or even Henry Cavil. Still, it’s his riddles and dialogue which really give the character legs, and watching Batman and Gordon solve his crimes is a joy to watch. Less notable is Zoe Kravitz in the role of Cat Woman, whose performance is by no means bad, but fails to have a particularly memorable presence in the film compared to past incarnations of the character.

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This is a dark and serious film, but delivers well on the thrills, with some impressive yet oddly brief action sequences. It portrays Batman very much like an urban legend to the underworld of Gotham, and Reeves paints Batman more like a ghost and a symbol of fear to the bad guys, and he does this frighteningly well.

I give this film 4 Batmobiles out of 5.

As a parental advisory this film has been rated M for Mature audiences by the classifications board in Australia for the following:
Acts of Violence
Threats of violence
Coarse language.

PS. In case you’re wondering, there is a tiny post-credit image at the end of the film which (in my humble opinion) isn’t worth staying for, to be honest, it’s hardly even a scene!

Reviewed by Oli Philips – Takeover host and all-around legendary guy

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