If you’ve ever read a Batman comic or played any of the Arkham video games, then you’ll instantly recognize the moody disposition of Matt Reeves’ The Batman. From its brooding titular hero to the grimy, crime-riddled Gotham City streets he calls home, this is by far the darkest live-action iteration of the Caped Crusader yet. It’s also the perfect Batman movie, feeling every step of the way like it was ripped straight from the pages of the most thrilling DC books.

The Batman has more in common with psychological thrillers like David Fincher’s Se7en or Roman Polanski’s Chinatown than it does with its superhero kin. At its core is a hardboiled, neo-noir mystery that heavily plays up the iconic hero’s World’s Greatest Detective moniker while pushing the film’s PG-13 rating to its breaking point. Moreso than ever, Batman must rely on his brains as much as his brawn as a mysterious masked terrorist calling himself the Riddler starts knocking off the Gotham elite in ghastly fashion, all in the name of “unmasking” the truth behind the city’s rampant corruption, while leaving behind cryptic clues for the Dark Knight to decipher.

In the film’s opening minutes, we’re introduced to Bruce Wayne in the midst of his second year of crime fighting. Jim Gordon isn’t yet police commissioner, Batman is still learning how to be Batman, and his supervillains are just now rearing their ugly mugs. Gone are the days of a young Bruce Wayne crying beside his dead parents in Crime Alley. While their murders still inform everything, Matt Reeves mercifully spares us yet another retelling of the Bat’s origin and instead thrusts us immediately into the action. In its opening few minutes, Reeves efficiently and effectively establishes this brutal new Batman as a force to be reckoned with in Gotham.

This time Robert Pattinson straps on the cape and cowl. In addition to boasting the best Bat-chin to date, the Twilight star gives a powerfully understated performances that communicates the quiet, simmering rage of a young Bruce who’s freshly damaged and still reeling from the death of his parents. He communicates a frenzy of complex emotions with a single look, which is what you want from a hero who hardly speaks and never smiles. If you’re someone who still sees Pattinson as a sparkly vampire, then The Batman will cure you of that.

Filling out the positively stacked cast around Pattinson (Battinson?) is Zoe Kravitz as a broken and desperate Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman; Jeffrey Wright as Lieutenant Gordon, the one truly good cop in Gotham who finds himself under the scrutiny of his superiors for allowing a vigilante to work alongside uniformed officers; and an unrecognizable Colin Ferrell as the scene-stealing gangster Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin. And then there’s the great Paul Dano whose face is hardly seen but still manages to frighten with a performance that embodies not only the demented psychosis of a fictitious comic book baddie, but also an all-too real incel looking to exact his revenge out on a world he believes wronged him. It’s genuinely one of the most outstanding ensembles in any superhero flick.

The Batman is a beefy film. With credits, the total runtime crosses the three-hour threshold. That’s a lot for any movie to ask of its audience. Very few films can justify such a commitment and unfortunately The Batman isn’t one of them. One scene in particular stands out in my mind as being unnecessary. For as much as I enjoyed nearly every moment I spent in Reeves’ soggy sandbox, I couldn’t help but feel the film’s length by the time credits rolled.

The Batman is a film that Marvel Studios would never have made, an excitedly fresh and unapologetically dour take on a pop culture icon from a proven auteur.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Those are our thoughts on The Batman. What do you make? Have you had a chance to check out the new film yet? If so, do your thoughts line up with ours or did it hit you differently? Sound off in the comments below to let us and the rest of the movie loving world know your thoughts!

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