The “Batman” isn’t as good as everyone says it is, but it isn’t a bad movie either

I love Batman. I have a folder full of pictures of Batman on my desktop. I have a poster of Batman saying “I’m Batman”. My best friend has a tattoo of the Joker. I have been inspired (as many of you have) to be a hero because of Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I’ve listened to Michael Giaccino’s soundtrack in its entirety fourteen times since its release about two weeks or so ago. I am paying money that I don’t have to purchase a 36″x50″ poster for The Batman film. I love Batman. So I say this with a heavy heart that The Batman (2022) is not as amazing as everyone will tell you that it is.

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What makes a good movie a good movie

I’m currently writing a Film Essay on this topic, but there’s three overarching categories that most people use to judge if a movie is good or if it’s bad. These are

  1. Is the story told well?
  2. Does the story look good while it’s being told?
  3. Is the story worth telling.

Most films succeed at #3, and it is the least important but still fundamental but subtle element that a film is judged by. There’s a reason why a film like The Danish Girl is a far, far better film than Knock, Knock. The story for the former is worth telling, but the story for the latter is not. Category #2 is deceptive for uninitiated filmophiles. It is the question of whether or not a film is aesthetically pleasing. The film The Green Knight is an insanely gorgeous film, and can be fairly considered art. The film Moonfall, while chock full of CGI, is inherently not a beautiful film. The Batman succeeds at both #2 and #3 so well that it completely overshadows the fact that the film sort of fails at reason #1. Unfortunately, it succeeds so well at being intentional and gorgeous that most people will not realize that perhaps the story many not be told well at all.

The Batman has, undoubtably, the best cinematography of any Batman film, ever. In fact, there are few, and arguably none, films that have any cinematography worthy of complete status as Matt Reeves’ Dark Knight movie. Yes, Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies are great and iconic, but they have no aesthetic or visual theme that’s worthy of notice, discussion or recognition. For the more committed filmgoers, we were quite aware that the film would be fantastic, considering the unique, red-toned atmosphere of the The Batman. The trailers, posters and marketing proved it, just like I predicted.

There’s a brand associated with Robert Pattinson thanks to the iconic Twilight series. Since then, he’s appeared in quality, dynamic roles and films, building and cementing our courage in Pattinson’s range. Keen-eyed filmgoers will have nothing but trust that Pattinson will deliver a powerhouse of a performance as Bruce Wayne. There’s an older brand, however, that Pattinson built while filming the tween series alongside Kristen Stewart. He’s also considered a broody, dark, mysterious and quite hearthtrob. I’m not going to lie, he really was an absolute cutie in all of the Twilight films, and I actually am Team Edward- but only because he was marginally less toxic than Jacob. In The Batman, the expectation and expertise in broodiness is used to the advantage of the type of story Reeves is trying to tell.

Is The Batman a good Batman movie or a bad Batman movie

Matt Reeves, director hits such as some Planet of the Apes films and responsible for classics like 10 Cloverfield Lane and David Schwimmer’s The Pallbearer, has chosen to depict a never-before-seen depiction of the Caped Crusader. While Michael Keaton’s Batman Forever was grungy yet goofy, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Batman and Robin was original yet terrible and Christian Bale’s The Dark Knight was deep and nuanced, The Batman was grungy, deep, and original, depicting satisfactory depictions of Catwoman, Batman and The Riddler. Considering the last time we got a Riddler, he was played by the guy from The Mask, the bar was pretty, pretty low. Actually, since Jared Leto’s poor efforts as The Joker in Suicide Squad, we knew how little to actually expect from any Batman villain. Unfortunately, thanks to Joaquin Phoenix’s The Joker, we also know just how fucking good a villain-based but action-decentralized Batman movie could be.

In other words, this Batman movie is neither the best Batman movie ever, nor is it the worst Batman movie ever. Yeah, I know you could have just read the header and then this paragraph and skipped the rest.

The most mature, grungy Batman film ever

Going back to reason #2 as to what a movie can be judge by, The Batman is absolutely, insanely beautiful. There’s a lot of focus-tracking done in this film. The use of the selective focus on items, words and characters draws your attentions to specific moments, expressions or clues, either confusing you or helping personify our protagonists or un-humanify our antagonists. It’s fun and it’s worth allowing your own interpretations and expertise define the meanings of the focus of the shots. Things like blurring the background but sharpening the focus character, or framing them in a specific corner of the massive, gorgeous frame. The film world is grungy, dirty and crime infested- just like Philadelphia!

The first third of our 3 hour long film is fantastic. It’s a detective story about Batman, as he demonstrates his intelligence and (for really the first time on screen) his detective skills. Hardcore fans will love Detective Batman. The second half, however, falters. It shifts from this engaging version of storytelling to a little more… boring scenes. There’s a sequence of scenes that turn completely expositional, delivering some backstory from nearly 20 years ago, awkwardly setting up an amount of personal motivation for both Batman and the Catwoman to defeat the main villain in their own ways. Then, the film resolves this conflict at the end of Act 2 and the beginning of Act 3. (While it can be argued that The Batman actually follows a 4 or 5 act structure, I don’t think it matters much in this context). The first third is excellent, the second third is lazy. The third third is… long.

There’s a ton of things to talk about in a movie as fantastic as The Batman, and it’s always unfortunate when I have to bring up some of the detrimental elements.

The neverending end of Batman

A film usually has an average climax length of 5-15 minutes. This includes a physical confrontation, like a big battle at the end of The Fate of the Furious, or a narrative one at the end of Citizen Kane, or an emotional climax at the end of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or a mix of all of the above. The Batman, however, consists of a combination of all three for a solid an hour, plus a solid mix of unearned emotional moments, stakes that were raised at the last moment-without much context, and couple of “the protagonist is about to die, oh no- psych” moments in the form of guns being pointed in faces, hanging off precipices, electrocution, being bashed over the head, shot with a shotgun at point blank, drugs, and ‘we know you’re Bruce Wayne’. It’s a lot, it’s too much, and the film ddddrrraaagggged its finale for an amount of time usually reserved for a movie like The Return of the King, which had nearly nine theatrical hours of backstory behind it. There just wasn’t enough to care about the film to have patience for an hour long climax. We just didn’t care. We didn’t know what Batman was fighting for, we didn’t know why we cared, and we didn’t have any idea of where in terms of narrative progress we were.

At this point I’d like to point out that I can identify a few areas where the editors had to cut significant character and world-building scenes to shorten the cinematic release. There are single to no mentions of: a flood, Bruce’s relationship to his parents, and, most egregiously, his romantic relationship with The Catwoman. While Zoe Kravitz has range enough to deliver enough sexual tension to have us believe it, there’s just not enough substance between Batman and the Catwoman for us to care about a 2-minute long goodbye between two individuals who shared a total of 5 scenes together.

They do, however, have considerable overlap as Selina Kyle and Batman, but these are different characters- and this is well established in the Batman mythos in general, but also in this film. Bruce and Batman are not the same guy, and their motivations and actions are different. This is a fact hammered home in The Dark Knight, in exploring whether or not Bruce will emerge or Batman will in the battle for the soul of the man in the bat suit.

Again, there’s a lot to talk about this film. It looks and sounds great and they’re telling a unique Batman story in a unique, visually stunning way. But the story itself is mismanaged, far too tense, far too long, and edited far too much. We just don’t care.

Batman Boobies

As of March 5th, 2022, I’ve seen The Batman once. I expect to find far more substance in subsequent viewings, one of which I aim to be in IMAX. Currently, the film sits at an average

7/10.

There is an excellent Batmobile chase scene right in the middle of the movie, and it’s just TOP. NOTCH. Also Kravitz pokies 😀

You can watch The Batman in theaters.

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