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Five things we loved about ‘The Batman’… and three things we could have done without

The long-awaited DC film The Batman opened in cinemas today and at just under three hours long, it arrives more like an epic than a comic-adaptation movie. In short, though, we’ve got to say we very much liked it. Here, Annette McCubbin and Antonino Tati outline all the plusses that come with the new movie… and, yes, a couple of negative points because nobody’s perfect; not even The Batman.

 

The production value is through the roof!

The cinematography is very impressive in The Batman: strong, visually captivating images, be it the long shots of a dreary and wet Gotham City, or the closeup details of that famous bat-suit. Standout scenes include the Batmobile flying through the air out of an inferno of fire in slo-mo; wonky upside down shots of auto fatalities; Batman taking off in flight from the edge of a skyscraper, this time in a winged puffy suit; fiery car chases; and bold murder scenarios littered with quirky clues that would make Jigsaw proud.

 

Robert Pattinson is a good choice as the caped crusader

Avoiding cliches of the past – where our rubber-suited hero often came across as too cool for school (be he played by Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck or Christian Bale), putting Robert Pattinson into the role allows for a somewhat more sensitive super-hero. In keeping with modern ideals of what it now means to be “masculine”, Pattinson’s Batman is more introverted, calculative and, yes, wise. Initially thinking he’d be too fey for the role (images from Twilight stuck in our heads), Pattinson actually delivers the goods here. He lacked all that patriotic ‘Captain America’-type bullshit, and comes across as a superhero with a heart, and yet with vengeance still hidden amid the angst. We’d gladly welcome a Pattinson should he return to play future ‘Batmen’.

 

If two-and-a-half anti-heroes aren’t enough for you, wait till the end of the movie where there’s a surprise cameo.


There’s not one, but two (and a half) famous villains in this one

Returning to the villain numbers game of Batman films of decades ago, there are a couple of villains in the latest instalment: The Riddler and The Penguin. While the Riddler steals most of the limelight, the Penguin’s role in Gotham’s current mess is just as important in the narrative. Then there’s Catwoman, who represents semi-hero, semi-anti-hero in this particular film. And if two-and-a-half anti-heroes aren’t enough for you, wait till the end of the movie where there’s a surprise cameo (albeit silhouetted) of yet another bad boy from the franchise.

 

The makeup and prosthetics are state of the art

So good is the aesthetic artistry in this film, we didn’t even realise it was Colin Farrell playing Oswald Cobblepot (aka: Penguin) until closing credits. In one interview Farrell gave kudos to makeup artist Mike Marino for doing the “heavy lifting” on his appearance, which also included wearing a fat suit as a way to circumvent health issues. The overall change is so drastic that even a cast member mistook Farrell for a random “overconfident” extra.

 

Alfred is now an Eastender-type Brit geezer

Whether it has something to do with the popularity of shows such as Shameless and Derry Girls, director Matt Reeves appears to have encouraged actor Andy Serkis (Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy) to put on his best bad geezer accent. It lends a postmodern touch to the butler’s personality, and while most butlers we know speak poshly, Serkis’ ringmaster-like delivery is admired even for just being daringly different.

 

And three things we didn’t care for that much …


The movie’s just too long

We can’t recall an action or noir film of recent times that goes on for three hours. Towards the third (and last) act, the viewer realises there certainly could have been some scenes shortened. The storyline, which is a fairly simple one, could easily have been edited, especially the talk from Gotham’s detectives. We know what they’re supposed to do – just go out and do it. Instead of looking to the slow-pace of Netflix dramas for inspiration, director Reeves ought to have considered the modern audiences’ shorter attention spans. There’s already enough stuff for us to watch these days – be it at the movies, online or on the telly – so shorter films with sharper messages make for better movie-watching.

 

Paul Dano wouldn’t have been our pick to play Riddler

We first saw Dano play a troubled teen in Little Miss Sunshine. Troubled he can play well. But as for deeply-disturbed-in-fact-really-fucked-up with the potential to cause mass genocide isn’t really in his wheelhouse. Instead of coming across as some character on The Big Bang Theory, Dano ought to have played someone more ridiculous (and ridiculing) like Jim Carrey’s Riddler, or completely manic that he freaks the hell out of us (akin to Heath Ledger’s Joker).

 

If we had to hear one more rendition or extrapolation of ‘Ave Maria’ in this movie, we’d have to denounce our Catholic heritage

 

The soundtrack is over-dramatic and lacking in diversity

While the quality of the score throughout The Batman is superb – from the opening Baroque-style strains to the almost Star Wars-like pomp-and-circumstance sounds during fight scenes – there really ought to have been more variety in the soundtrack. Indeed if we had to hear one more rendition or extrapolation of Ave Maria in this movie, we’d have to denounce our Catholic heritage. We would have loved to have heard some modern music make it into the soundtrack, akin to what we enjoyed in Batman & Robin, and Batman Forever. Switch it up more. Throw in some Foo Fighters or Muse; sneak in some Tame Impala; even drag out good ol’ Nick Cave, but at least make the music more interesting and diverse.

 

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