The new delayed version of the Caped Crusader in tattered, rain-soaked Gotham City is hardly a fun superhero romp.
Matt Reeves (Let Me In) co-writes and directs The Batman and re-introduces characters from earlier incarnations from Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan.
Try to trudge through nihilism is hardly thrilling but the mood is expertly established by Reeves through his technical staff. Notably in Michael Giacchino’s score an Greig Fraser’s often under-lit lensing.
The titular (I Am The Shadows) figure and eccentric Bruce Wayne has Robert Pattinson (Tenet) in a kind of sullen misery. Whispery monotones befit a dual persona that isn’t very identifiable amidst what’s buried in the background.
A Neo-noir for a nocturnal vigilante ensues with dark ambiguity and relativism that calls to mind Todd Phillips Joker. Yet, without the wry, compelling primary portrait as the filmmaking has an inky, inkling towards David Fincher’s Zodiac.
Clues begin to be relayed as notable Gotham citizens are left with a calling cad (riddle) aimed at a seemingly super sleuth caught between a corrupt syndicate and the true relevance of the Wayne name. The film arguably teeters on the edge of it’s rating given the range of homicidal activity (including the use of rats).
A resilience may be tested throughout as the narrative can’t do much with the ancillary parts, with the exceptions of Selina Kyle and Gotham’s finest, jaded and gruff Jim Gordon, a welcome Jeffrey Wright.
Tensions are palpable with Selina and Gordon, but no payoff as is the case more prominently with Andy Serkis’ butler in Alfred Pennyworth. The pairings aren’t well delineated, though to some tantalizing effect, in the earlier cases. Mob boss Carmine Falcone allows John Tuturro to try to break through the gloom. But, he and a quite unrecognizable Colin Farrell, as waddling Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin, aren’t very piquant at all.
More importantly Paul Dano’s alarming antagonist in The Riddler isn’t integrated with the kind of a verve and richness that the narrative fails to impart, in what may be a bleaker reawakening of previous situations and themes over decades of DC films. Dank and long-winded ladled with occasional arresting imagery The Batman through all of it’s foreboding and portentousness still might augur more than dismissive riddles.