Ben Oliver

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The Batman

When that light hits the sky, it’s not just a call. It’s a warning.
12 March 2023

Oh lordy another Batman movie. This time Robert Pattinson takes on the role, with Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred, Paul Dano as The Riddler, Colin Farrell as The Penguin, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman (The Catwoman?) and Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.

Nobody asked for this film, but the proper hardboiled detective stuff crossed with emo angstiness called out to me. The combination mostly works, especially given how the other Batman films tend to throw the detective side of the character out of the window pretty quickly once the gadget-belt-grapplehooks come out.

It’s about as bleak and grounded as a Batman film is going to get. Out with the sci-fi batmobile, in with a giant muscle car. Out with the slick super suit, in with some scrappy combat gear made out of spare parts. It’s almost allergic to showing off or giving the audience cheap thrills, which by and large helps it to stand out from its peers.

The performances are great, with an awkward sexual tension between Pattinson and Kravitz standing out in ever more prudish times. Jeffrey Wright is good in everything; he’s a memorable Jim Gordon here and the screenplay wisely gives him a crucial role in the film.

Perhaps it’s a little too po-faced to be an all-time classic (look, I’m just a moron who wants a night-vision-grapple-watch sometimes) and there’s no real tent-pole scene to look back on when the credits roll, but overall this is a solid entry into the Batman catalogue that is wise to sidestep the ‘extended universe’ bullshit.

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