Matt Reeves directs Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz and Paul Dano in this horror and noir themed take on the famous masked vigilante superhero from DC Comics.
For the initial 90 minutes I was in. A shameless homage to the directorial style and influence of David Fincher done so well that even a super fan like me could not see the forgery for the fear. What if Gotham was the anonymous hell city from Se7en? What if The Riddler was the Zodiac? What if Bruce Wayne had his poor little rich boy world tore apart à la the psychological mind fuckery of The Game? No Fight Club? No Project Mayhem? Wait for it… Wait for it… Journeyman director Reeves has assembled an incomparable team for his three hour tribute mash-up. Cinematographer Greig Fraser really emphasises the piercing neon signage, distress flares and investigating flashlight shimmering off bodily fluids. Michael Giacchino repurposes everything you’d expect from a Batman blockbuster score but slows it down to a fading heartbeat that then builds often to a stunning death knell as excitement peaks.
It ain’t all perfect nightmare though. Something happens after a muscular Batmobile chase, which is possibly the best car smash sequence since The Bourne Supremacy’s crunching finale. The dank atmosphere and cruel plotting loosens a bit. The solution to the ultimate mystery is the most obvious one. We sit through four lengthy monologues from characters we don’t care about or trust the content from. One after the other. A few too many scenes feel like The Dark Knight cosplay; an interrogation room showdown that leaves the silent Batman thumping and caterwauling like a toddler… that’s so 2008! The Big Bang ending doesn’t logically work as a cataclysm and needed just a few more big picture shots and moments of grand scale peril to bed in before the shooting starts. Too. Much. Epilogue. None of these takes feel like the definitive version of the infamous characters, though a ghoulish Dano and brooding Pattinson do admirably try hard.
It is fascinating how Reeves plays around with the established mythology to add a healthy interrogation of the Bruce Wayne / Bat tragedy. The action, when it happens, has a real world thump and impact. The Batman’s bolt upright and imposing posture intimidates, his punches land with a muddy squelch. I really liked so much of this. The Batman felt tailor-made for me, the adult comic book fan. I want more from this Mindhunter Gotham… I just don’t know if I’ll relish watching Cop#3 monologue for five minutes on a rooftop or a superfluous Alfred fackin’ Pennyworth each time I revisit this opening chapter? Still you could never see Marvel make something so family unfriendly. Good… Bye!
Perfect Double Bill: The Joker (2019)
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