Every live action version of Batman always manages to bring something new to the character. From Adam West’s humorous take in the 1960s to the darker, more grounded evolution we see in Christian Bale’s trilogy, to even the divisive, angrier performance of Ben Affleck, there is always an element introduced that attempts to keep the audience engaged with each new turn of the Caped Crusader (albeit with varying degrees of success). “The Batman” is no different, as Robert Pattinson’s turn as the Dark Knight proves to be one of best, if not the best, live action Batman movie to date.
In “The Batman,” we see Bruce Wayne (Pattinson), having been our titular hero for two years, cross paths with a serial killer dubbed the Riddler (Paul Dano). With the help of Lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and cat burglar Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz), Batman embarks on a mission to uncover the identity of the Riddler and stop the looming threat that hangs over Gotham City.
The atmosphere of this film is very dark and oppressive. Right from the jump, we are presented with a city where crime is commonplace and true justice is sparse. This isn’t anything new for those familiar with the source material, but the film manages to convey the bleakness of this city through some masterful cinematography by Greig Fraser. Almost the entirety of the movie is takes place at night, where darkness suffocates almost every streetlight, and figures like our Batman are even more terrifying when emerging from the shadows.
Robert Pattinson’s take on the Dark Knight fits right into this world, where we see a man so broken by his past that his depressive state remains even outside the cape and cowl. This is a depiction that may not be suited for everyone expecting to see the “billionaire-playboy Bruce” persona from past portrayals, though it complements the nature of this film.
Rivaling Pattinson is Paul Dano’s performance as the Riddler, giving us a very sinister villain capable of doing the unexpected, all while giving his signature riddles to go along with each murder he commits. He is the only one to truly match Batman on an intellectual level, and Dano puts forth a portrayal that even threatens to surpass the hero himself.
The quality of the film’s music cannot be understated, as Michael Giacchino gives us a score that is just as brooding as our protagonist, while also keeping us hopeful in its more contemplative moments.
The film is paced deliberately slow, which largely works in its favor, though not entirely. Batman’s detective work is put more on display compared to other iterations, which results in many dialogue-heavy scenes. While it gives us a nice look into the thought process of our character, there are a few instances where dialogue between characters devolves into some needless exposition.
With runtime of nearly three hours, the film overstays its welcome near the end with multiple scenes that seem tailored to cap off our journey, only for another scene to sneak its way in before the credits roll.
While it may be a bit too long for some, “The Batman” proves to be another win for one of DC Comics’ flagship characters. Strong performances and a much more eerie setting feel like a breath of fresh air, resulting in one of the greatest Batman outings yet.