Christopher Nolan raised the bar so high with his Dark Knight trilogy that Tim Burton’s early vision of Batman/Bruce Wayne seems cartoonish and juvenile now.
Now comes the new vision as presented by director Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson as Batman/Bruce Wayne.
It was hard to envision a guy who starred in Twilight as the Caped Crusader when compared to Christian Bale’s performance in the Nolan series.
For those like me, who think there was nothing better than Nolan’s three features, clear your mind and realize DC’s most famed crimefighter can live on.
(The Batman is playing at RCE Theaters in Roanoke Rapids. For showtimes visit this link)
Being a person who doesn’t rely on critics — if I did I would have never ventured to see Chris Elliott’s comedic romp Cabin Boy with a cameo by the great David Letterman — I won’t get into the plot details and give you a spoiler alert warning.
Let’s just say that after Nolan’s three superior films Reeves found a way to strip down the characters further than in the trilogy of which I am so fond.
Reeves doesn’t rely on campy costumes for the major criminal in this film. The Riddler comes across as a mixture of the Unabomber, Eric Rudolph and notorious serial killers throughout history.
Just as in the stand alone Joker film with Joaquin Phoenix, The Batman delves into the psychosis and demons which haunt Edward Nashton/The Riddler and bring him to his destructive path.
The Penguin is featured as fairly typical mob enforcer while the sexual chemistry between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Selina Kyle/Catwoman is still sizzling in the latest iteration of the franchise.
Even the iconic Batmobile is stripped down — a muscle car which still includes the features that only a billionaire like Bruce Wayne could afford to manufacture.
Based primarily on the comics Batman: The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, the new film is gritty, dark and disturbing.
Even Pattinson’s performance as billionaire Bruce Wayne takes a different approach and the focus is not on him being a playboy burning through Wayne Industries dollars, but as a nearly-reclusive scarred person still haunted by the death of his own parents.
Batman has always been a vulnerable character with the exception of the early 60s TV show, but in these films we always get a glimpse of his humanity and why he donned the cape and mask to begin with.
That compassionate, human side was not lost on Reeves, especially when it comes to the plight of children who have been left orphaned by senseless violence.
You see it as he strives to lead the way for both stranded kids and adults who have previously viewed Batman as a vigilante and not a partner with the Gotham Police Department.
The relationship between Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon played by Jeffrey Wright, one of my favorite actors, is seen from the start as he and the Dark Knight work cases together, much to the chagrin of dirty cops who moonlight for the mob.
Overall, my initial trepidation of seeing this film eased and while I will always hold the Nolan series near and dear I do look forward to seeing what comes next in the Reeves/Pattinson era.
Much of that trepidation was eased when I heard The Batman’s ending soliloquy, which in the face of the foolish and senseless acts of violence we have seen recently in the Roanoke Valley rings true. “Vengeance won’t change the past. Mine or anyone else's. People need hope.” — Lance Martin