This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Ben’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
“Fear is a tool. When that light hits the sky, it's not just a call. It's a warning.”
Look, I still don’t know exactly what I thought about this film as a whole. So, I’m just gonna start writing and see where I go. Roughly the first two hours of this film, I thought they were just magnificent. The comparisons to David Fincher’s Se7en made and still make total sense, no question about that. It’s a dark, bleak and quite relentless detective story that is easily the most fresh take I’ve seen on a superhero in a very, very long time. I definitely think that people are overblowing just how dark this film is, it’s really not that dark at all in honesty. For a superhero movie, sure, it’s dark. But in general? It’s pretty light for a dark movie, if that makes any sense. To be honest, I seriously thought those first roughly two hours were outstanding and unfortunately, in the film’s last hour or so, that all got shattered for me. This film’s final hour or so is totally different to what the majority of the film promises. What starts as a gritty, powerful, dark detective story turns into a predictable, action-packed superhero popcorn fest. Now, sure, there’s action throughout the film, absolutely, but in the first half, the action was hard hitting, it was brutal and it didn’t ever feel over the top, let’s just say I can’t say that about the last hour or so, where it slips over the line into typical modern superhero flick territory. Keep in mind, it may seem like I’m being overly negative here but I’m not. I loved the first half of this film, it’s just the last half which left a bad taste in my mouth. I thought all of the performances were great. Robert Pattinson killed it as not just Batman but also Bruce Wayne, Zoë Kravitz makes an excellent Selina Kyle, a totally unrecognisable Colin Farrell delivers and then some as The Penguin and last but definitely not least, my favourite performance in this film by a million miles, Paul Dano as The Riddler in a performance that will be remembered and revered for years to come. I thought he was amazing in Love & Mercy but he was next level here. One thing about this film that my emotions are extremely mixed on is the writing. There are times where I was just as impressed by it as I was utterly engrossed. But sometimes, god, it made me physically tense up because it was so corny and worthy of cringing. Batman’s first monologue in the film is like something an edgy fourteen year old would’ve written on Tumblr back in the day and his final monologue, well, it’s easily one of the corniest things I’ve heard in a movie in years, just corny garbage. That may seem a little harsh but instead of going “wow” and being impressed by it, I have to admit I snickered. Lines such as “I am the shadows” and the constant usage of the word “vengeance” let down many parts of the film purely because I simply couldn’t take it seriously at those particular points. But then, on the other side, there’s some scenes in this film which blew me away in regards to the writing. The scene between Batman and Riddler in Arkham is an absolutely sensational moment, both in regards to the performances and the writing within them. But then, you’ve got that corny scene between Bruce and Alfred in the hospital after Riddler has attempted to blow Bruce up, which made me roll my eyes more than a handful of times. I wasn’t lying when I said my feelings were mixed about the writing folks, I mean it. Look, there’s no denying that this film is great, it’s amazing. It approaches themes that most superhero films wouldn’t dare even touch with a ten foot pole. It’s not even slightly afraid to be sinister or dark, it knows what it wants to be and for the first two hours, the film absolutely succeeds in being what it wants to be. It’s just that final hour which lets the film down more than a little bit. For the ten steps forward this film seems to take, it takes a fair few back in that final hour which is really quite disappointing. As I’ve said, The Batman is definitely a step in the right direction for the superhero genre but it’s not as big a step as is needed to create change and revive originality within the genre.