The Batman appears to be a fun starting point to a new Batman franchise, but it is not perfect and suffers from what feel like totally avoidable mistakes.
Let's start with bad.
But they don't all connect together quite right.
And because the script trying to invoke too many things, there's not enough room for the major beats to get a chance to breathe.
This script is kind of like a restaurant that serves everything from pizza, to burgers, to sushi, to Mexican - if you're making all of these different types of food, it's difficult to make any of them well.
Here's an example: When The Riddler, played by Paul Dano (The Sopranos) Bruce Wayne is crushed to learn that his father is responsible for the death of a journalist 20 years ago. This leads to a Bruce visiting Carmine Falcone (John Turturro (Transformers: The Last Knight)) who confirms that Thomas ordered him to whack-a-journo. Then
Bruce confronts Alfred with this information, only to learn that “actually your father was trying to protect your mother's medical history and didn't think Falcone would kill the journalist."
All of that happens over the course of three consecutive scenes. A huge emotional journey that is resolved in only 10 minutes because the script must get you to the next thing.
That's a huge problem when your movie is predicated on being a mystery. The world aches for detective Batman. Good mysteries and whodunnits are a thing of the past.
But writer/director Matt Reeves (Felicity) isn't a mystery writer. He's an action writer.
And the action is great.
The fight scenes are harsh and realistic. Robert Pattinson's Batman is a brawler. Gone are the days of Christian Bale (Shaft) doing that weird block-fighting-style thing.
The Patman fucks dudes up - but he's not invincible. Sure, he has body armor but it still hurts to get shot.
One especially memorable scene involves The Patman taking a double barreled shotgun blast to the breast plate - he lives, but needs a shot of adrenaline to get back up and continue the fight.
We are introduced to The Patman in a way that is common to the comics, but has been rare in film adaptations: as a predator.
We see criminals in Gotham being stalked and getting scared by the Bat Signal, then looking around the shadows.
We see the actual fear they have that Batman could be anywhere. This is where the movie is at it's best. Showing Batman be a nightmare.
It's a shame that the script called for a lackluster detective plot and throw away story beats, because if you cut out about an hour of this movie, you'd have a taut thriller with a strong message to the New Right: The lines are blurrier than you want to admit. We have the truth on our side. That makes our side all the more dangerous.
That's the heart of this story and it's done incredibly well.
For the last 20 years, Gotham's Elites (stand-ins for literally any white liberals you can imagine) have been using the Gotham Renewal Fund as their own personal piggy bank (think public sector unions, the Clinton Foundation, Black Lives Matter, et al). The renewal fund was established by Thomas Wayne prior to his death and was intended to subsidize a billion dollars worth of municipal projects to help elevate the living conditions of Gotham's most vulnerable (the poors). Instead, Falcone (Hillary Clinton) has been pilfering the fund to set up a progressive, big city, political machine, that purchases the obedience of corrupt politicians, police officers, the media and judges. This leads to a predictable outcome - the elites get fatter, the poors get poorer, more addicted to drugs and more murdered.
Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore, Gotham.
In an understated twist, the Riddler is just some guy. An orphan like Bruce Wayne. He didn't have the privilege and support structure of Bruce Wayne. He wasn't a billionaire. He's a lower-middle-class orphan, living in a dying diseased city. Cast aside by society and driven insane by the grift and chaos of Democrat machine politics. This was his only means of fighting back.
It is not until the waning moments of the film that we learn that the Riddler wasn't leaving clues for Batman to taunt him - they were codes of communication and the Riddler believed he and Batman were working together.
Batman was so involved with punishing the criminals, he never stopped to consider what the message he was sending ("vengeance") might inspire. It's not just Riddler, it's an entire group of terrorists who take up arms to try and massacre Gotham elites.
The terrorists all believe they are "vengeance". They all want to be like Batman - fighting the scourge that plagues their city - and while he wasn't paying attention, The Riddler and his followers OD'd on the red pills that Batman was dispensing.
You don't just win by beating the bad guys, you win by inspiring the normies into believing that a better society is possible with your ways.
Fear can be a good motivator. Hope is a better one.
Cinematography: Well choreographed action and staging. It feels like a 90's Fincher movie in the best ways possible.
Performances: Robert Pattinson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) is fantastic as Batman (not as great as a very muted and emo, Bruce Wayne) and Paul Dano is great as Riddler. A barely recognizable Colin Farrell stands out as Penguin.
Score: The leitmotif of Michael Giacchino's score is the lynchpin of the entire mood.
Length: This film, which clocks in at 2 hours 55 minutes, should've either been 4 hours long (to give time to the necessary plot points) or 2 hours (and removed those plot points entirely).
Final Score: 8/10. You will love this movie.