Smart Movie Review: ‘The Batman’ takes caped crusader to the limit

Published 4:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2022

By Ian Omar Smart | Guest Columnist

Now playing at the B&B Theater in the Vicksburg Mall, a new iteration of Batman (played by the great Robert Pattinson) returns looking to explore the detective aspect of the character’s adventures on the largest (and longest) canvas possible.

Despite what many consider the caped crusader’s core attributes, Batman actually behaves differently depending on which writer handles him. In the comics, he has existed as a mythic, globe-trotting Bond type, a tortured knight of the oppressed, a psychotic anarchist, a symbol of stability for Gotham City and a genius-level mastermind able to anticipate every possible outcome.

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Despite the early comedic, self-referential aesthetics of Adam West’s 1960s Batman, he’s mostly existed as a brooding crusader of law and order. This recent iteration finds that persona taken to its furthest, with Bruce Wayne/Batman existing solely as a quiet judge lurking in the shadows.

“The Batman” faces off with notable serial killer The Riddler (played by Paul Dano) who targets members of Gotham’s elite. His victims all seem to be involved with a conspiracy that circles everything; Gotham Police Department, the district attorney, the mayor, various crime syndicates; including the legacy and reputation of the Wayne Family.

While very self-serious, I find that most have overlooked how much this new iteration reckons with the silliness of Batman’s world.

Tossed off lines like, “This whole thing is a powder keg, and Riddler’s the match,” play up the hard-boiled angle without ignoring some of the more unbelievable aspects of his character (this is a really gadget-heavy Batman).  Appearances from the Penguin and Catwoman (played amazingly by Colin Farrell and Zoe Kravitz) favor something more in line with “Batman: The Animated Series.”

While the length is certainly felt and the cinematography occasionally distracts more than it creates atmosphere, this Batman strikes an amazing balance between a genuine detective story and even the Batman comic story. Many seem to dislike the final act, but it feels appropriate given how much this film wants to both ground the character and allow his more comic book-y elements to flourish.

It’s definitely worth a look for anyone who enjoys these stories.

Oh, and the introduction of the Batmobile and the ensuing chase alone is worth the price of admission. The film is also starring John Turturro, Jeffrey Wright, Andy Serkis and Peter Sarsgaard.