I was close to tears during the final act of “The Batman”, and I couldn’t tell if it was the three-to-four-hour sleep schedule I had been on that week finally taking its toll, or if it was because I was so emotional from watching what may be my dream Batman-depiction. After watching the movie for a second time at The Little, I think my tears might have been due to the masterpiece that is Matt Reeves’ take on the titular superhero.

Reeves had what seemed like an impossible task, and that was to deliver a fresh take on a character that has been drained for all his worth by Warner Brothers. So with a character that has had so many interpretations, stories, actors, and different media, Reeves went back to bat-basics and gave us an engaging detective story. And holy Batman did it work.

Reeves twists the classics, old and new, such as “The Long Halloween,” “Batman: Year One,” “Batman Ego,” and elements of Scott Snyder’s 2011 run on “Batman” into a love letter to the Batman mythos. Reeves pulls on small details from Batman runs of old and new such as the fact that yes, Bruce Wayne does journal, his nifty contact lenses introduced in Snyder’s run, and Wayne’s street disguise presented in “Batman: Year One.”

Reeves and “Dune” cinematographer Greig Fraser realized what makes the best Batman stories: Gotham. There is no Batman without Gotham, so Fraser and Reeves bring a gritty, layered, cesspool that entraps you in the story like its characters. The use of reds and oranges balance out the shadows and darkness and creates an atmosphere where you are always on edge. The shots in this movie are off the wall and draw humanity out of “The Batman,” and composer Michael Giacchino’s score is a perfect match to the film, which  forms an artistic powder keg of visual action and musical reaction.

Robert Pattinson gives a performance that drives home the pain that Batman suffers as a result of his parents’ premature deaths, the anger that motivates him, and the edge of wanting to save his city. This Batman lives in the night and carries the weight of his trauma. Reeves’ gives Pattinson the task of dealing with one of the most vital Batman questions: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Or in this case, is Batman’s quest for vengeance helping scare away the devils in the dark or encouraging them to come out into the light and burn down Gotham? Pattinson’s Batman is forced to confront his mission of vengeance when Paul Dano’s terrifying Zodiac Killer-influenced Riddler wreaks havoc on the city.

Dano is insane, and brings a usually forgotten element of horror to Batman. Dano is what also lies in the shadows with the Bat. The background can only do so much, but this cast is what truly brings Gotham to life.

Zoe Kravitz is making a run for the best Selina Kyle yet. Kravitz’s Catwoman can stand alone, but her chemistry with Pattinson is also compellingly raw. There’s also Jeffery Wright’s gripping James Gordon, Colin Farrell’s dirty and outstanding Penguin, a grounding Alfred Pennyworth in Andy Serkis, and John Turtturo’s sly mobster boss Carmine Falcone. The Batmobile is a monster of the night, invisible in shadows until it’s time to scare the hell out of criminals. 

The details in this movie make it worth seeing two or three times, because while it’s a close to three-hour run time, every action, line, and setting has weight. Pattinson’s eventual confrontation with Dano is worth rewatching five times alone based on the body language in the scene. The action is plenty in this film, but leaves enough time for the sleuthing that makes up this noir. There are even jokes if you want them, such as a hilarious Spanish lesson with Farrell’s Penguin. No one’s hands are truly clean in this filthy city, which leads to some more introspective Batman moments.

In “The Batman,” Batman is learning how to become the Dark Knight we know and love, because it’s only his second year on the job. The first 10 minutes might be one of the most defining Batman moments in DC Comic history, but the film strikes its chord at the very end, where it makes the case that Batman isn’t most effective as vengeance, but as hope. “The Batman” might not be the superhero flick for everyone, but it is a behemoth of a film on its own. “The Batman” is a comic book fresh off the press.



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