The Batman goes even darker

The Batman poster

Minimal spoilers

The Batman, Warner Bros.’ latest take on its most popular comic book character, goes even darker than previous incarnations.

Prime example: The Riddler, the movie’s primary villain, has traded in his bright green outfits for a much darker uniform. Also, this version of the Riddler really enjoys killing his enemis.

Beyond that, scenes are relentlessly dark. Anyone who watches a matinee showing will really squint their eyes after they leave the theater.

Besides more darkness, Gotham City is even more corrupt than before. The mob has its fingers into everything and seemingly everybody.

Still, director/co-screenwriter Matt Reeves finds a way to make Batman (Robert Pattinson here) his own. For example, Reeves plays up Batman’s role as a detective.

In the comics, Batman was billed as “the world’s greatest detective” and we get at least some of that here. However, the Riddler provides one clue that Pattinson’s Batman is slow to pick up on. Many members of the audience will be ahead of the game.

Pattinson seemed to be an unusual choice to play Bruce Wayne/Batman. Supposedly, he and Reeves had disagreements during production. But Pattinson is just fine, although you’d think a rich guy like Bruce Wayne could afford a hairbrush.

Reeves wisely avoids a detailed flashback of how Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed. Those events are referenced but there are no falling pearls as some movies have depicted when Martha Wayne got killed.

Also, Reeves sets his story two years into Wayne’s career as Batman. The relationship between Batman and Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) is established when the movie begins.

One big plus for the movie is the score by Michael Giacchino. The composer has done scores for a number of Marvel films, including Spider-Man No Way Home. But Giacchino’s score for The Batman is nothing like that. His takes on two very different comic book characters are appropriate for each.

Is the movie flawed? At almost three hours, it’s too long.

At the same time, Reeves isn’t concerned with making Batman fit into a connected film universe. Everything is focused on Bruce Wayne, his personal issues, and a grim story.

The movie is worth seeing unless you hate comic book-based films on principle. It is ambitious. For me, it fell short. But fans of a dark, dark Batman will be enthusiastic. GRADE: B.

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