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The Batman is a dark political thriller noir 

Co-writer Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) directs this new reboot of the popular DC Comics series about Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), a vigilante crime fighter with deep pockets and a brooding persona. When The Riddler (Paul Dano) begins murdering key politicians in Gotham, Wayne as his alter ego, Batman, investigates. Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) and Penguin (Colin Ferrell) also make appearances. (175 min.)

click to enlarge THE BAT AND THE CAT Batman (Robert Pattinson) and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) help each other in their pursuit of justice in the new franchise reboot, The Batman. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. AND DC COMICS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Warner Bros. And DC Comics
  • THE BAT AND THE CAT Batman (Robert Pattinson) and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) help each other in their pursuit of justice in the new franchise reboot, The Batman.
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Glen Relentlessly dark, overlong by about an hour, and gothic as Hades, this new Batman flick still manages to offer a potent payoff with some cracking good cinematography and set design along the way. Pattinson plays Bruce Wayne in full emo mode—his black hair shrouding his eyes, brows furrowed, mouth set to grimace. Only about 30 years old, he's new to crime fighting, and he questions whether he's having an effect, knowing Gotham is a big town and he can't be everywhere at once. When The Riddler begins taking out politicians, leaving behind thorny clues to be deciphered, Batman starts to unravel conspiracy and corruption at Gotham's highest levels. And just to add to his angst, his revered father may too have been involved in some way. Dano's The Riddler is a physically weak, pasty type, with an inflated ego. His weapon is his brain, and he likes to invent diabolical devices to exterminate his prey. He considers Batman more of a friend than a foe—after all, they're both after justice. Then there's Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, who has her own agenda against the criminal underworld, especially reclusive kingpin Carmine Falcone (John Turturro). Working at the Iceberg Lounge, a criminal underworld hangout, Selina becomes the tool Batman needs to get inside information. It's all very convoluted with lots of characters, including Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot, aka Penguin (Colin Ferrell made unrecognizable under facial prostheses). Jeffrey Wright stars as honest cop James Gordon, who against his fellow officers' wishes brings Batman into the investigation into The Riddler.

Anna I had absolutely no idea that Colin Farrell was Penguin. That's bonkers! Whoever the artist is who made his prosthesis should win an award—he was completely unrecognizable. I'm in agreement that this film definitely could have been tightened up. There are very few movies that have enough meat to actually justify an almost three-hour runtime, and The Batman isn't one of them. That said, I like the storyline, I like the characters, I even like the dark moodiness and style that were chosen. There were just too many lingering shots and long moments where in my head I was snapping my fingers and saying, "Tighten it up, people!" I wasn't sure how Pattinson would come across as Batman. Honestly, he's not exactly the actor I picture for the role, but he handled this young Bruce Wayne with a real sense of the tortured hermit that Wayne is, especially in his younger years. Dano does creepy so well, and his Riddler is definitely an unforgettable villain. This film is, of course, a setup for more to come, and I'll totally watch them—I just hope the next go around they stick with a two-hour script.

Glen I'm still of the mind that director Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy is the best run of Batman flicks, but this one is appealing, and I'm all in for sequels too. This is less a standard superhero movie and more a political thriller noir. Gotham is a horrible place to live—dirty, crime-ridden, operated on graft and corruption. It feels irredeemable, and one wonders why Wayne even bothers. In part, it's because he thinks it's his legacy since he believes his father was such a do-gooder, which is why the story's revelations shake him to his core. He essentially has no one left ... except Alfred (Andy Serkis), the family butler, the only person still able to guide him to do more than mere vengeance. This isn't a revelatory reimagining, but it's a nice twist on a favorite franchise.

Anna It's not my favorite Batman film, but it definitely soars above some of the disasters that have happened over the years. Kravitz is a good fit for the Catwoman character, playing a damaged woman who is desperate for vengeance. I love an effective villain, and Dano's Riddler is creepy, sinister, and unpredictable enough to do the job here. The finale of the film pulls off some epic shots, and without going into spoilers, I'll just say that both good and evil have their time to shine. One thing is for sure, I'll never set my Zillow search to Gotham—that place is bleak, rain soaked, and riddled with crime. Δ

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Split Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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