Breathtaking cinematography and score transform ‘The Batman’

The film poster for “The Batman” (2022) is pictured. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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To speak frankly, Matt Reeves’ mysterious and evenly layered film noir “The Batman” (2022) is the best live-action adaptation of the character.

While the film’s three-hour runtime might intimidate some filmgoers, the time flies by as the film maintains flawless pacing that drives the cleverly concocted mystery plot forward with unmatched zeal. The detective story takes place in Bruce Wayne/Batman’s (Robert Pattinson) second year of crimefighting as prominent members of Gotham City’s government are being murdered by a puzzling serial killer known as the ‘Riddler’ (Paul Dano). The Riddler’s plot takes Batman from the streets of Gotham to the highest rungs of the city’s society in an effort to stop the Riddler from tearing Gotham apart.

The film is anchored by standout performances by Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman and an unrecognizable performance by Colin Farrell as the Penguin. While Jeffrey Wright does his best with the material given to him, it’s difficult to feel satisfied by his turn as Police Lieutenant and Batman ally Jim Gordon, who essentially acts as a wall off of which Batman can bounce theories. Pattinson is the weakest link, but that’s not to say he turns in a poor performance. His brooding, Kurt Cobain-inspired Batman is amazing in the suit when he appears otherworldly and genuinely intimidating, but he seems slightly emotionally constipated in his identity as Bruce Wayne.

The cinematography by Greig Fraser ties the film together and gives the movie a wholly unique identity among the mainstream superhero fare currently available in theaters. Harsh, neon-lush lighting, a color palette rich in blacks and reds and a wide variety of fantastical angles will make any cinephile ask, “How did they get that shot?” Fraser is currently up for an Oscar for his work on “Dune” (2021), and this film makes it easy to see why. Fraser is a skilled artist, and the film would simply be worse off without his masterful work.

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The soundtrack by Michael Giacchino is a mix of operatic soaring scores with bits of slinky jazz and hard rock thrown in. The soundtrack takes on a life of its own and sets the mood for each character perfectly, from Batman’s conflicted, booming dirge to Catwoman’s steady yet unpredictable riff. The soundtrack makes every scene more memorable and serves to highlight the divides between the characters and the different parts of the city itself, making the music indispensable.

While the film sets up several teases for potential sequels and spinoffs, it never feels bogged down by continuity or constrained by a need to set up new properties or spinoffs. It acts as a perfect, self-contained adventure that, even after its titanic run time, leaves viewers hungry for more. Anyone can watch “The Batman” with even a cursory knowledge of the titular character and his extensive mythology and be thoroughly entertained.

“The Batman” is a must-see film, as perfect as a “Batman” film can likely be and the most ambitious superhero film in recent memory.

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Summary

Though Robert Pattinson might not have been the most accomplished Batman, the film that surrounds him elevates the character and makes itself the most ambitious superhero film in recent memory.

5 stars
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