Let’s cut to the chase. (As one does after enduring a movie with a three-hour runtime.) I didn’t hate The Batman, the latest entry in the never-ending parade of films focused on DC’s Caped Crusader. However, I didn’t love it. I’ll rundown the high and low points of the film, along with a final verdict.
And then, if you’re so inclined to watch the film yourself and need a helping hand with snarky Statler & Waldorf-esque commentary, I’ll include my running commentary of notes taken on the film after a brief review.
Let’s get on with it!
Not a Traditional Batman Film
If you you go into The Batman expecting a traditional Batman film, or even a fully faithful film adaptation of The Long Halloween, you’re going to have a bad time. If you want to enjoy the film, chuck all of your expectations of larger-than-life villains aside.
The Batman is far more of a neo-noire crime drama with capes. Members of Batman’s fabled rogue’s gallery were toned down to more “real life” proportions and the film zeroed in more on the underworld crime family aspect of Gotham City as the villain of the piece, with a gang of mislead, mask-wearing incels that show up towards the end of the flick.
In terms of pacing, it’s a slog. These three hours do not go gently into that dark night. The Batman played host to many drawn out scenes and slow processions down dark corridors. DC’s trademark lack of humor in its films is also on full display, barring one or two intentionally humorous lines from The Penguin. Otherwise, it was as mopey and emo as you’d expect it to be.
The dialogue — as there were several key revelations important to the plot — succumbed to the Hollywood trend of voices that sounded like faint whispers even with the volume cranked up, followed by loud VROOMING of motorcycles, explosions, or pulsing club music.
Action scenes were few and far between — and all-too-brief. And all-too-dark. Look, I realize this is the “dark knight,” but the heavy-handed ambiance of Gotham City as a dark, unforgiving, and perpetually rainy place was overkill.
Bright Spots in a Dark (K)Night
The bright spot (pardon the pun) of The Batman was its cast. While Pattinson isn’t my favorite Batman, he’s a breath of fresh air compared to Baffleck. Hell, after Ben Affleck’s Batman, I think even Bill Burr would be better in the role. However, Pattinson’s fledgling Batman is solid and he fits the role well. Similarly, Zoe Kravitz makes a compelling and multi-layered Catwoman with tons of chemistry between her and Bats.
Andy Serkis as Batman’s long-suffering butler Alfred made the most of his few scenes, giving the film (and Bruce Wayne) some heart. Similarly outstanding, albeit used too sparingly, was a nearly unrecognizable Colin Farrell as The Penguin. Farrell’s take eschewed the monocle and aristocratic bearing of the comics’ and Burgess Meredith’s version. Instead, we got “Jersey Eye-talian” Penguin. Initially, it felt off-putting, but Farrell’s Penguin gave The Batman its few (and much-needed) comedic moments to liven things up a bit.
The three-hour runtime would have pissed me off if I saw this film in the theatre instead of on HBO Max. In this venue, the film benefits from viewers being able to watch, pause, refill snacks, go pee, then resume. I’m not averse to long films, but The Batman felt as unnecessarily bloated as Ben Affleck squeezed into his bat suit. Pattinson is a solid young Batman and I would not mind seeing him in the role again. That said, while I didn’t hate The Batman, I don’t think I could handle a re-watch.
The Batman: A Snarky Watch Along Guide
- Why is this movie so fucking dark?!?! Fuck your shitty “sound design” and hire someone to do lighting on this thing.
- I cackled out loud at the predictability when Batman’s voice over in the beginning states, “They think I am the shadows….” I finished it before he even said it, “…*raspy voice* I AM the shadows.”
- I find myself singing lyrics to MCR’s “The Black Parade” throughout this movie and it totally fits. “When I was / A young boy / My father / Took me into the city….”
- Oh, jeez. Bruce is journaling after taking out his Bat Contacts and hanging in the Bat Cave. With his Bat Eyeliner still on.
- “You’re not my father.” Why you gotta hurt Alfred’s feelings like that? Man, Bruce is such a pissy little emo bat.
- Oh, look. It’s a nightclub fight scene, which is more of a lame scuffle than a fight. You can’t see shit because it’s wall-to-wall Pokémon seizure-inducing strobes and music so fucking loud you can’t hear anything…. Except for Joisey Eye-Talian Penguin. “Cawl me Ozzie! It was moider!” So much for Oswald Cobblepot.
- Another micro fight scene. But please, by all means, show more scenes of skulking through the shadows and long processions.
- Where does Riddler get all of these cute, kitschy Halloween cards? Bonus points if he makes them himself. Totally picturing this dude hanging out in craft stores and making items for his wRiddler wReaths Etsy store.
- It’s another loud club scene with Catwoman doing her runway stomp. Catwoman’s highlighter is on point!
- Is this fucking “Euphoria”?!?!
- Riiiiight…. Hopped up “powerful people” just spilling their guts to a hot chick with perfect highlighter and cheekbones. Sure. Seems legit.
- How dare you take out the Bat Contact! Do you know how much they cost?!?!
- Jesus. This guy they have playing Falcone looks like a cross between a pervert Stan Lee and Father Guido Sarducci. Oh, shit… that’s John Turturro.
- Riddler likes: Warby Parker glasses, gimp masks, and arts & crafts. You know this dude is a craft store aficionado because he knows where to get the good Duck tape. Every time I try to tear off a big piece it always folds up on itself. Not Riddler’s. He springs for the quality shit. Also, the “sound design” team is earning a paycheck every time he unrolls that Duck tape.
- Alfred is clearly pulling for Bruce to get laid and lighten the fuck up.
- Holy shit. It’s a daylight scene.
- One thing I’ll give R. Pats as Bats is that he has one helluva jawline. Brucey-goosey milks those genetics when he stands there, looking pensive for the paparazzi like Gotham’s answer to JFK Jr.
- What the fuck kind of funeral is this? The guy making announcements sounds like he’s warming up the crowd at a water park.
- They’re really getting their mileage out of “Ave Maria” in this flick.
- Special cameo from Short Circuit‘s Johnny 5 as a Bomb Bot.
- Batman has better (and longer) car chase scenes than action scenes. Penguin can fuckin’ DRIVE!
- A tied-up Penguin is waddling. Ohhhhh, I see what you did there.
- Awwww! Bruce really does love Alfred.
- YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!! Okay. This mutha fucka is going DOWN!
- Do you really need to take your shirt off to put together clues out and spray paint the floor? Batman is springing a thirst trap for Riddler.
- I guffawed again after Batman and Selina TOTALLY FRENCHED each other. Batman stands in profile against the setting sun… and then “I’m Thomas Wayne. And I approve this message.”
- Nice little “Hush” Easter egg.
- Okay, paused for a pee break. An hour and 10 minutes left?!?!?!
- Awwww…. Bruce and Alfred holding hands. In addition to a superlative jawline, Pattinson has the prettiest Bat Hands I’ve seen. I wonder if the Bat Suit has a built-in hand cream dispenser in those gloves?
- Catwoman is better at Capoeira than she is with a gun. How the fuck does anyone see where they’re shooting?! It’s so damn dark!!!
- That is some subtle “Choke me, Daddy” shit.
- The little “?” In the cappuccino foam totally reinforces that Riddler has one hell of a Pinterest board.
- Damn. He’s creepy. And totally unhinged. I can dig it.
- Like, comment, and subscribe to Riddler’s YouTube channel.
- Incels walking around in flash mob Joker makeup is SO four years ago. Everyone’s wearing Dollar Tree Slipknot masks with clear hipster glasses now.
- Gordon showing up when Bats is pummeling “Riddler” is like Ralphie’s mom showing up when he’s roughing up Scut Farkus.
- Did he break his glasses? Or just gently lay them to the side?
- This whole “light in the darkness” / guiding light / Bat Savior metaphor is just precious.
- Ohhhh! That chaos all went down on the 5th of November. I see what you did there, Riddler. *wink*
- And now we’ve got a reprise of Nirvana’s “Something In the Way.”
- So, they do have a lighting team. Because they CLEARLY made it a point to illuminate Gordon standing off to the side at the press conference even though he didn’t say a word.
- What the hell sort of Return of the King endings-upon endings crappola is this?
- “Did we just become best friends?!
- That’s got to be the most docile cat ever to hang out on a motorcycle. If anything, I think that may be the most implausible part of the movie. Is it a requisite now to have a chin dimple if you’re Batman?
- His cape trails behind him dramatically as he’s Bat Cycling (on an overcast day) past a cemetery. Oh, wait… now it’s dark again. For fucks sake.
- You call that a cut scene?!?!