Robert Pattinson is the latest of the dozen or so actors to slip into the bat-suit to become the Caped Crusader on film (many more if you count TV, child actors playing the young Bruce Wayne, voice talent for animations, etc.). Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, Iain Glen, just to name a few.
In the wake of Christopher Nolan’s highly effective Dark Knight trilogy, Director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In, the recent Planet of the Apes movies) opted, what the hell, to take things even darker, reexamining the hero’s origin story, this time with his murdered mom and dad not as virtuous as he had thought.
Reeves is getting praise for taking the superhero genre out of the blockbuster formula and examining his conflicted hero from a humanistic, down-to-earth point of view. But isn’t that what Nolan already did?
Plusses: The characters are uniformly well developed. Jeffrey Wright is spot-on as Lieutenant Gordon, an unrecognizable Colin Farrell is the Penguin (underused, and clearly being held back for the inevitable sequel). Also Paul Dano, John Turturro, Peter Saarsgard and Andy Serkis. The real gem in this movie is Zoe Kravitz, terrific in a sensual, career-boosting role as Catwoman.
The barely lit production design is unique, and the few carefully parceled-out fight and chase scenes are nicely done.
On the minus side, and this is major minus: it’s no fun. It’s basically a police procedural, with this funnily dressed vigilante guy helping out. Lots of standing around looking at clues. These days, few movies, especially superhero movies, even cerebral superhero movies, need to be three hours long, and I left the theater more fatigued than entertained. A little glowering by Robert Pattinson, a good actor (The Lighthouse) who’s still trying to live down Twilight, goes a long way. Ultimately, this dour, self-important film fails to explain why we need yet another Batman. (176 min)