Friday, March 4, 2022

The Batman


Gazillionaire orphan Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) deals with his parents’ untimely death when he was young through vengeance, donning the cape of street vigilante Batman, keeping the city of Gotham almost crime-free. However, it’s different nowadays as the place slowly becomes a cesspool of anarchy and chaos. The murder of a mayor up for reelection by Edward Naston (Paul Dano), aka the Riddler, leads the bat to a collision course with the cat. Fronting as a nightclub waitress, Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) is out for vengeance as well for her friend’s disappearance, along with several personal scores to settle with some powerful men in the city. Their unlikely alliance is tested as they go through each and every riddle dropped along their path, eventually going down a deep rabbit hole of corruption and organized crime so deeply rooted within the institutions of the city all of them call home.

We all have our favorites. Mine is Michelle Pfeiffer. Kravitz’s Catwoman is a worthwhile addition to the group, nonetheless compared to, let’s say, Anne Hathaway’s rather boring version in The Dark Knight. Kravitz’s Selina Kyle is more hands-on and throws a lot of punches of her own, refusing to be placed in the cage of the obligatory love interest which we already know from the get-go anyway. She gets her own backstory and the character’s anti-hero slant makes her even more of a delight to watch, what with that ambiguous moral compass of hers.

Dano’s Riddler is underwhelming. The thing about the more colorful renditions of Batman’s villains in decades past is that despite the flamboyant portrayals that make you want to cringe, they still end up being the most remembered even after so many years have gone by. Seriously, between Dano’s and Jim Carrey’s Riddler, which one will easily come to mind once the name is mentioned? Perhaps, this has been intentional, though, as a way of highlighting the argument that in this story, the hardcore villain is Gotham City itself. Heck, even Colin Farrell’s Penguin is forgettable despite his obvious transformation for the role.

As for Battinson, I bet we can all agree that he can now enjoy the distinction of incarnating the best onscreen Batman since Christian Bale. Sorry, Batfleck, we just don’t like you. The brooding persona is similar to that of Bale’s caped crusader, but Battinson brings a fresh emo factor to the table that is representative of Bruce Wayne as he is just beginning his misadventures under the mask. At least that is what I picked up from it, considering how the storyline seems to be alluding to a time in the hero’s life when he was just starting his own brand of vigilante justice.

As for the film’s three-hour runtime, we have to give some kudos to the writers for starting everything off in medias res and sustaining a delicate balance between intrigue and action from there. Personally, I didn’t feel like three hours have elapsed until the credits began rolling. Overall, careful consideration of the sub/plots allowed the movie to simmer until it was ready to serve the main course. Since we no longer need an introduction to Batman anyway, much of the screen time is used to flesh out this storyline to positive effect.

In the end, how many Batmen do we really need in this lifetime? The answer is as many as the WB wants. Perhaps the problem here is how Marvel has dominated the silver screen for so long that it has inadvertently set the benchmark for the superhero genre, that every character and subplot has to be connected to another. DC seems to be going the opposite direction with a delightfully misguided shotgun approach. We will throw as many Batmen and Supermen your way. Whoever sticks wins his own trilogy. Well, it’s been a while since The Dark Knight. Maybe it’s high time for a Battinson-flavored one.

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