Back With a Vengeance

By Giovanni Ramirez

Are you in need of a vacation? A nice getaway for some time off the regular routine? Do you dream of seeing the big city on the coast where the people never sleep? Do you wish to go to a place where the night life carries risk and reward so intense, you’ll need a vacation from your vacation? Ooowee, do we have just the thing. Here at The Oredigger Travel Agency we are offering a one-of-a-kind vacation adventure to the metropolitan marvel that is Gotham City. Home to a historic downtown, incredible architecture, and a very wild and active night life Gotham City is the place to be. Plan your vacation now.

Speaking of Gotham City, the city’s famous defender has a new movie, and I’m gonna talk about it. Background is important for understanding. Batman is a guy with the power of being rich and having determination and uses that to attack the criminal underbelly of the city where he grew up and lost his parents. The stories are normally depicted as being dark (both visually and in an atmospheric character driven way). There have been plenty of past movies if you’ve been living under a rock but the focus here is the newest one, that is currently in theaters. So, onto The Batman.

I’ll start here by saying that I loved it. The movie was a fantastic change of pace from the norm of superhero movies. The movie isn’t just occasional ethical dilemmas with intermittent punch fests, I’m looking at you Marvel’s Eternals. The plot follows Batman (of course) as he moves through an investigation into a serial killer that has been targeting various powerful and influential men in Gotham City. Along the way you meet a cast of characters that are famous in batman mythos such as Alfred (Andy Serkis), Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), Detective Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), The Penguin (Colin Farrell), and The Riddler (Paul Dano). That’s all that can be given of the plot because it’s best to go in knowing as little as you can. That means you should watch it, but I can give you more reasoning if you decide you want to keep reading.

So, what can you know about this movie? Well don’t worry, I’m getting there. The film in most simple terms’ rocks, for several reasons. One such reason is the cast. At this point I may believe that Paul Dano is an actual serial killer moonlighting as an actor. Although if you know anything about Paul Dano that is not a surprise, he’s an amazing actor and I highly recommend Swiss Army Man if you want more of him. Back to talking about the cast though, I can’t dare forget the star of the show Robert Pattinson or as he is in the movie, The Batman. Robbie has been prepping for this role for years, back in 2008 he was already playing an edgy rich kid with a weird association with bats. Who would have guessed that 14 years later he would take that to the next step in the form of a superhero? I sure didn’t and it made the surprise of his performance so much more compelling. He sold me the self-sabotaging young man with a world of vulnerability that previous movies either didn’t try or failed to do. He and the other characters’ character development in the form of realizing that people make mistakes, and the batman can’t just be a symbol of fear for criminals but also a symbol of hope for good guys was excellently done in its incremental fashion. It would take a while to properly describe how each character did a service to their comic book origins, so I’ll just summarize it to saying that the chemistry felt real, and the characters were people to invest in. Cast put to the side, the plot direction. The plot is equal parts driven by the batman’s wants and motives as well as the urgent danger thrust upon the people batman wishes to protect. The progression of the movie from one Riddler clue to the next feels like the carefully laid out map of a serial killer. However, there is a judgement to be made that the transition to the final act of the film is a little muddy, however it does lead to some of the best action of the movie, speaking of which. Another reason this movie rocks, the action. While the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy was an excellent interpretation of batman, the movies lacked when it came down to fight choreography and the action associated with it. The Batman’s form of action was an improvement on the Dark Knight trilogy, partially because of the participants of a fight’s actions in a fight making sense, but also because batman suffered. What I meant by the first part of that sentence is the actions of different characters making sense in an active moment. For example, a guy with a gun will shoot his gun, not try to punch someone with it. A lot of the time movie action falls into this motion of not doing anything that could truly threaten the character, the result of that ends up with the sense of risk disappearing and sometimes having a jarring experience. The second part of what I said was regarding batman’s roll as a participant in any given fight. Other movies depict their character as only suffering superficial injuries, in the dark knight trilogy for example the main injuries that come to mind exist in the end of the franchise with batman’s hurt leg and broken back, but those were long foreseen scripted events, not injuries made in a casual moment (it’s a famous story line with the bad guy in that movie). Every motion batman makes in The Batman is met with resistance, and he does not walk away unharmed every time, and that goes back to the vulnerability of character. I must move on from the action, I’ll just speak of the atmosphere of the movie and call it a day for you to decide to watch. Being the detective movie this film is, the creators wisely decided to go in the direction of a Neo-noir aesthetic. If you don’t know noir, just think of some of those classic ‘40s detective movies that were on your grandmother’s tv when you were little. If that doesn’t jog your memory, the style of noir is heavily characteristic of shadow and light play, cynical protagonists, and an intricate plot. Neo-noir just takes more power to the shadow and light play with having multiple colors as opposed to black and white. An example of neo-noir is the john wick franchise, although that takes the color work a bit intensely. The Batman sells it in the form of the hyper violence of the ‘80s. So many times, during the movie I was confused as to why a character had an iPhone simply because the aesthetic made me think it was 1986. If that says anything, the aesthetic of the movie had quite some power to it that supported the story immensely. You’ve had enough, I’ll wrap it up.

As with any review, this is just my opinion of the movie. Yes, I thought this movie was good and I’d be interested in seeing it go further, but it isn’t for everyone. However, if you’re interested in a detective film with a gritty aesthetic and some well-paced action, I highly recommend The Batman.

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