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Review of “The Batman

Mild spoiler alert!

As a child of the 1950s and 1960s, I grew up reading about superheroes in DC comics. My favorites were Superman and Batman. I still enjoy their adventures, although much has changed since those days, especially in movies. The difference between what was technologically possible in movies back then, versus what can be done today is truly mind-boggling. What was once only possible in the viewers’ imagination is now possible visually, thanks to combinations of sophisticated special effects and practical effects. I can still remember the Black & White Superman TV series. In those days the so-called special effects were pretty much limited to Superman ‘flying’ in place while a fan rustled his cape.

In the latter half of the 1960’s, color TV finally came to Canada, where I lived. One of those new color TV series was “Batman.” It was campy and not serious in the least. The villains were more comical and likable, than villainous. They were truly characters. Fight scenes were punctuated with colorful graphics such as Biff!, Pow! and so forth. A recurring scene showed Batman and Robin pulling themselves along a rope while they scaled a building and discussed their latest adventure. This was truly family entertainment, suitable for all ages.

Over time however — especially in recent years — superheroes and the worlds that they inhabit have become dark, very dark. They have moved far away from being family entertainment.

In both story and tone, Warner Brothers Pictures latest incarnation of “The Batman” is reminiscent of the tv series “Gotham,” which aired from 2014 to 2019 on the Fox network.

The mood and the scenes of this movie are dark and ominous.

Robert Pattinson portrays a very conflicted Batman and his alter ego — the reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne. On the one hand, he views the deep problems of crime-ridden Gotham City to be so widespread and pervasive that he continually wonders if he can possibly make a difference, and yet he is continually compelled to try to do so. He is a vigilante, and he does not have the universal support of the populace. However, he does have the support of the Gotham City Police Department’s James Gordon, portrayed by Jeffrey Wright (“No Time to Die,” “Westworld”), and his ever-faithful servant Alfred, portrayed by Andy Serkis (the “Planet of the Apes” films, “Black Panther”).

Over the course of the movie, Batman develops a mutually grudging association and relationship with Selina Kyle, portrayed by Zoë Kravitz (“Big Little Lies,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”).

Selina Kyle, portrayed by Zoë Kravitz

The cast also includes Paul Dano (“Love & Mercy,” “12 Years a Slave”) as Edward Nashton; John Turturro (the “Transformers” films, “The Plot Against America”) as Carmine Falcone; Peter Sarsgaard (“The Magnificent Seven,” “Interrogation”) as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson; Jayme Lawson (“Farewell Amor”) as mayoral candidate Bella Reál; and Colin Farrell (“The Gentlemen,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”) as Oswald Cobblepot.

So, should you see this movie? If you are a serious fan of the Batman franchise, my answer is a less than completely enthusiastic yes. It does check a lot of boxes. There are the obligatory explosions and scenes of destruction. If you enjoy movies with car chases, this will not disappoint there, either. There is plenty of fighting, and so on.

However, the biggest problem that I had with “The Batman” is that it just did not wow me. This is not a film that left me eager to rush out of the movie theater, to message my friends and suggest that they go see it. The movie just kind of plodded along from scene to scene, heading towards its predictable, inevitable conclusion.

To learn more, see videos and photos, and to get tickets, visit: https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/the-batman.

Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #731r1

Jan Wagner

2 Comments

  1. David Sperry on March 20, 2022 at 4:14 pm

    Thanks for your honest movie review. I also grew up in an era before TV, and superheroes only existed in comic books (or possibly in movie theaters in black and white).

    My all time favorite superhero movie is the first big screen Superman with Christopher Reeves. He WAS Superman. The moment he stopped the world and reversed time to save Lois Lane was so simple and compelling, yet totally believable, that it’s never been matched for drama.

    That’s why modern special effects movies have lost their luster. Weak plots have been overcompensated with outlandish, yet totally brilliant, special effects. Drama has been replaced with visual overload. Based on your review, I may stream it at home, or just give it a miss.

    • Jan Wagner on March 20, 2022 at 7:06 pm

      Thanks David,
      I agree with you. Special effects cannot match the imagination I used when reading Superman comic books as a child.
      I have no idea what kind of reviews this movie has received by other reviewers. I decided not to check them out after I saw that my similarly less than enthusiastic review of the newest Spider Man movie is a critical and audience smash hit.
      Jan

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