The Batman: An Operatic Masterpiece or Overblown Hype

The Batman: An Operatic Masterpiece or Overblown Hype

The Batman: An Operatic Masterpiece or Overblown Hype

So, how did you react to The Batman?

Indeed, it stars English heartthrob Robert Pattinson as a goth, indie rock-tinged caped crusader, battling Paul Dano’s creepy Riddler villain. Pattinson has been ranked among the world's highest-paid actors after his turn as Edward Cullen, the handsome but solemn vampire star of the blockbuster Twilight series.

However, if a protagonist’s worth is measured by his counterpart, then Pattinson’s adversary is up for the task.

Dano has awesome acting cred, earning Golden Globe, Emmy, and BAFTA nominations, as well as appearing in three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, Little Miss SunshineThere Will Be Blood and 12 Years a Slave. Dano does creepy really well, admitting he had trouble shaking his serial killer alter ego, The Riddler, during production.

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Overall, most have loved The Batman, suggesting it may well earn Oscar nominations for its acting, directing, cinematography and production design. On Rotten Tomatoes, it scored a “certified fresh” 85% by critics—"A grim, gritty, and gripping super-noir, The Batman ranks among the Dark Knight's bleakest and most thrillingly ambitious, live-action outings”; and, it also rang up an 87% audience score—"It's long, but The Batman looks and sounds great, and its grounded take on Gotham is a solid fit for this Caped Crusader.”

Moreover, at RogerEbert.com, one reviewer compared The Batman to The French Connection, one of the best ‘70s crime dramas of all time, suggesting: “…in Reeves’ confident hands, everything is breathtakingly alive and new. As director and co-writer, he’s taken what might seem like a familiar tale and made it epic, even operatic. His Batman is more akin to a gritty, ‘70s crime drama than a soaring and transporting blockbuster. With its kinetic, unpredictable action, it calls to mind films like The Warriors as well as one of the greatest of them all in the genre, The French Connection…”

A tad hyperbolic? To be fair, for all the great reviews, some have just yawned when watching the Matt Reeves-directed The Batman. And, they do have a point or two.

  • Overlong, it could do with a good nip and tuck.

  • The Riddler’s puzzles aren’t especially clever or even pertinent to the plot—"What’s black and blue and dead all over?...YOU!” Really, is that all you got?!

  • What’s up with the “faux-apocalyptic” scenes? Been there, done that better!

  • Like with many other superhero stories, nobody important dies. So, what’s really at stake—they get bashed about and still return in the sequels, hello?

  • And, what, if any, message is being relayed to the audience? That saying little, as Pattinson does, is the depth of profundity?

  • Likened to Taxi Driver’s antihero, Travis Bickle, Pattinson’s vigilante also seems driven by a savior complex—but does that make him any better than the criminals he’s eliminating?

Firstly, take or leave these critical points. It’s just a discussion.

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Secondly, I never grew up reading comic books back in the UK,  so I’m not a fanboy who knows the origins of Batman. For the record, the character, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939)— the superhero Batman appears in a featured story called "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate." Batman proved to be so popular that a self-titled ongoing comic book series began publication, and Batman comics have proven to be popular since the 1940s.

For me, personally, I never glommed onto any of that, and my first experience was watching the US television series, Batman, starring Adam West from 1966 to 1968 in reruns—West called the show a deliberate farce or lampoon, not camp. Looked high camp to me. More recently, I have watched some of the various movie incarnations starring the likes of Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck in the signature “cowl” or bat cape. But I can’t remember much about the plots, or even cared that much. Name us one lasting or profound thought.

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As a result, I’m no aficionado or fanboy, so I have no axes to grind. But there is one thing that sticks out for me in The Batman is the character as a vigilante—“I’m vengeance,” he says early on. However, I felt like I wanted to see a different take on vengeance and, for some reason, I thought of Gandhi’s saying that “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

What if the character had to wrestle with this understanding, what if he’d been away in some ashram or to India, and had found some wisdom from a guru that vengeance wasn’t always the answer. What if there’d been a different take on an eye for an eye? Sure enough, near the end of the movie, the character has some late epiphany—"Vengeance won’t change the past. Mine or anyone else’s. People need hope”—but that feels like it was thrown in after all the killing by both the protagonist and antagonist has wielded its wrath upon Gotham.

Anyway, Pattinson and Dano rock, as does the stunning and very capable Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, and the sets harken back to the way we were blown away by the sets of Blade Runner, 40 years ago. But, overall, I don’t remember much about the movie, kind of like a super sweet treat that loses its value the second it’s been consumed.

Once again—a Masterpiece or a tad overblown eye candy?

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  • Josh Alexander

    This movie was dark. Robert Pattinson was surprisingly good. Ridler was intriguing but the ending wasn't great. Not sure if I will watch it again. The Dark Knight will always be my favourite.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Josh Alexander

    Agree with your comments, Josh. Pattinson was surprising. Dano was creepy, as he often is. The ending also left me "meh" — and was that The Joker talking to the Riddler at the end?

  • Josh Alexander

    In reply to: ashley collie

    The Joker was laughing with Riddler at the end. They are probably teasing a sequel.

  • Paul Tonelo

    Batman is different here and I love it. He is showing some vulnerability.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Paul Tonelo

    Didn't Bale's Batman also show vulnerability? To be fair, I can't remember, as these comic book movies don't stay with me long. Cheers!

  • Paul Tonelo

    In reply to: ashley collie

    If I am not mistaken the previous versions of Batman are more powerful.

  • James McDonald

    Gotta love how Batman deeply understands human nature.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: James McDonald

    In what specific respect, James? Thanks for reading!

  • Sam Young

    Everything falls in place for this movie except the ending.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Sam Young

    How would you have ended it, Sam?

  • Sam Young

    In reply to: ashley collie

    I don't know, just wanted something unpredictable.

  • Corey T

    That performance by Robert Pattinson was epic !!

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Corey T

    From a cold-blooded vampire in Twilight to a brooding goth rocker!

  • Patrick Clark

    Batman is beating the hell out of everyone. He killed no one but he is still a badass.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Patrick Clark

    Thing is, like with most comic book movies, not much is at stake, the big characters just bounce back in the sequel, or am I reading it wrong? Thanks.

  • Patrick Clark

    In reply to: ashley collie

    You are correct mate !!

  • Tom Martin

    Overblown hype... I want more... Bring me The Joker..

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Tom Martin

    Tom, thanks for calling it as you saw it. Was that the Joker whispering to the Riddler at the end? How about Joaquin appearing as Joker???

  • Tom Martin

    In reply to: ashley collie

    Bring Joaquín as the Joker ! Please no Jared Leto !

  • Lee W

    Ridler was in complete control, he outsmarted Batman several times.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Lee W

    Lee, that's great about Riddler, the hero needs a really good anti-hero, eh?

  • Aaron Hazouri

    Don't get me wrong, Pattinson stole the show, but the movie wasn't memorable.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Aaron Hazouri

    Good points, Aaron, and thanks for your honesty. Cheers

  • Aaron Hazouri

    In reply to: ashley collie

    You're welcome

  • Mitch R

    I give this motive 7/10. It was thrilling but not outstanding. Riddler is childish at best, I didn't like him at all.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Mitch R

    Mitch, Dano is an odd actor. He's creepy and childish in 12 Years a Slave.

  • Scott Andrews

    Excellent article

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Scott Andrews

    Much appreciate it, Scott. I hope I presented both sides, with some added colour!

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Scott Andrews

    Scotty—Near the end, Riddler's fellow cellmate congratulates the Riddler on his plan, saying, “One day you’re on top, the next you’re a clown. Let me tell you, there are worse things to be.” And, director Reeves stressed that Joker would play a central role in The Batman sequel...ahah!

  • Drew

    I thought it was great even though it was long. It was dark as Batman comics were but the acting and cinematography is great. The mayor's funeral scene, the meetings between Gordon and Batman, The explosions in the Gotham Garden and the motorcycle ride at the end - priceless.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Drew

    Drew, would you pay to watch it, again?

  • James Douglas

    Robert Pattinson is strong as hell

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: James Douglas

    James, how would you rate him vs the other Batmans?

  • James Douglas

    In reply to: ashley collie

    Pattinson is decent compared to the other Batmans

  • Thomas Brown

    I've always been a big Batman fan. You can literally take this movie and print it as a comic book. Pattinson silenced all the critics. He can play Batman. This film is a masterpiece.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Thomas Brown

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Thomas. Cheers

  • Stephen Zoller

    Masterful sitting on the fence, Mr. Collie. I agree that the "superhero" genre has been overcooked in recent years but whether one likes it or not cinematic spectacles like The Batman represent a reworking of old mythologies for our present day ultra-violent and increasingly amoral age. Dare I say that Matt Reeve's film holds more resonance for me than did any of this year's Oscar nominees with the exception of Belfast. The Batman, like the Road Warrior four decades ago, is an unapologetic cautionary tale for the dark future that awaits us unless anti-heroes like Mad Max and The Batman risk life and limb to pull the veil of darkness headed our way.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Stephen Zoller

    Thanks for commenting, my old friend. Although, that's an awful lot of pressure to put on young Pattinson's shoulders to lift that veil of darkness. Look where it got Mel Gibson, drunk and blabbering. I'm more of the belief that extinction, in one form or another, this way comes and we humans can do nothing about it. Unless of course, the aliens decide to finally intervene like in The Day the Earth Stood Still. PS Why aren't they answering the call????

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Stephen Zoller

    (Sorry, if this posted twice) Nice to see you here, my dear friend. Erh, that's an awful lot of responsibility for Pattinson's young shoulders—to save the world? Just look what happened to Mel (Gibson as Mad Max), he's become a drunken blabberer. But they are fiction, right? Anyway, with real not fictional climate change crises, along with the rising gun violence in America, and just lessening of those moral values (greed greed greed everywhere) you mention, it may be well nigh time for those watching aliens to make an appearance, like they did in the prescient and intriguing movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still. I mean, couldn't we do with a little extra-terrestrial intervention?

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Ashley Jude Collie

Entertainment Expert

Ashley is an award-winning journalist/author/blogger who has written for Playboy, Toronto Star, Movie Entertainment, Sports Illustrated, Maclean's and others. He's interviewed various "leaders" in their fields, including: Oscar winners (Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lawrence, Alicia Vikander, Jane Fonda, Mira Sorvino, Geena Davis, Anthony Hopkins); Grammy winners (Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Ice Cube, Pete Townshend); MVPs in sports (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, Kobe Bryant); and, business leaders (Amazon's Jeff Bezos). He has an upcoming novel, REJEX, coming out on Pulp Hero Press. And he has written several episodic TV shows, appeared on CNN, and blogged for Mademan, Medium, GritDaily and HuffPost.

   

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