OTwo Reviews: The Batman

Image Credit: Pixabay Ltd.

Complicated anti-hero or sulky E-boy? Katie Larkin dissects Matt Reeve’s efforts to take Batman and Co. back to their noir roots.

Coming from someone who previously has had little to no interest in any form of superhero movie, and has certainly not seen previous movies from ‘The Batman’ franchise, I was more than surprised by how enjoyable Matt Reeves’ The Batman was, which came to cinemas in early March. All aspects of the film, such as its linear narrative structure, psychologically provoking characters, its incredible use of cinematography amongst the lighting and costume choices, make The Batman deserving of the hype received to date. 

Reeves stated prior to the film’s release that he had taken influence from New Hollywood from the 60’s and 70’s. The themes of political narratives alongside the incorporation of sexual freedoms, central to the New Hollywood movement can be seen throughout the running of The Batman.

Matt Reeves’ direction of Batman was suspenseful from start to finish, with the lack of humour within the plot line emphasising the contents of Batman’s narrative; a word he uses often to describe himself, “vengeance”. The theme of ‘vengeance’ in the plot of The Batman carries more prominence to the character who is Batman, Bruce Wayne, who is played in the film by Robert Pattison. This element of the narrative runs deeply personal for the character, who lost his parents as a result of Gotham City’s corrupt upper class; consisting of the mafia, the police and the mayor. 

This corruption is also noted by the titular villain in the narrative, The Riddler (Paul Dano) who makes it his business to seek his own version of ‘vengeance’ by terrorising the city that Batman calls home. The elements of corruption from the characters within the narrative, such as Carmine Falcone’s mobster mentality and involvement with the city’s government and police force, enable an in-depth and thought provoking narrative structure to the plot. 

Not only does Batman fight street crime, like in the opening sequence where he stops a group of young boys from assaulting a man getting off a train, he is fighting the high level crime that is personal to his backstory. The character Pattison portrays of Batman and Bruce Wayne is a psychologically in-depth character, whose clear priorities in life are vital to the plot structure and partially make this film as captivating as it is. 

While The Batman is PG in terms of sex, there is a distinct tension between Batman and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) during the film as the pair become close as they begin working together. In terms of direction as well as the written relationship between the two, emotions of lust are prominent and contribute to the film's captivating narrative.

Reeves stated prior to the film’s release that he had taken influence from New Hollywood from the 60’s and 70’s. The themes of political narratives alongside the incorporation of sexual freedoms, central to the New Hollywood movement can be seen throughout the running of The Batman. 

There is a distinct tension between Batman and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) during the film as the pair become close as they begin working together. In terms of direction as well as the written relationship between the two, there is a lustful nature to their relationship, which contributes to the film's captivating narrative. Perhaps one of the more cinematically powerful sequences in the film is its close, where Batman and Catwoman part ways, both riding their motorcycles in opposite directions. The scene is a haunting colour of orange and red and was one of the more powerful scenes in terms of cinematography.

There is a blatant pattern with darkness throughout the film's lighting choices, with most of the scenes being prominently dark. It is also arguable that Reeves’ direction of The Batman is comparable to film noir. This is in line with film noir conventions such as intricacy in the plot, cynical superhero figures such as Batman himself and stark lighting conventions. The lighting choices throughout the film's course is integral to its themes of vengeance and its typical nighttime setting contribute to its cinematic quality and captivation. The choices are interesting but detrimental to the power of the film as a whole. 

Reeves’ The Batman is an incredibly captivating watch, which did not disappoint on expectations set by its highly anticipated release.