Synopsis: A man emulates a bat to fight crime in his city. (Streaming on HBO Max as of May 12, 2022)
Congrats, R Patz, you are the most Goth Batman ever. Robert Pattinson as Batman is painfully earnest, definitely depressed about the state of the world and always dressed in black. He’s a recluse in his Goth mansion that stays nice and gloomy because he never turns on the lights. In fact, all of Gotham is enveloped in darkness: police stations, hospitals, and places of business. In fact, night vision goggles would be handy for seeing the film’s action.
We see (sorta) a sweeping overview of the city at night and, in a voiceover, RPatzman declares that after years of being awake all night he has turned into a nocturnal animal. Maybe like a bat? However, he has no powers of echolocation, and he can’t fly. But he does glide around like a flying squirrel in his bat costume.
When RPatzman isn’t moping around the house, he whooshes around on his motorcycle, ignoring traffic laws. He also ventures out at night to fight crime.
The Batman seems to know that eliminating crime from Gotham is a fool’s errand, but he can’t help himself from reenacting his parents’ vicious murders on the streets of the city. But this time, he is not a powerless child, but a powerful man-bat or Batman, if you will. He will vanquish murderers, assailants and villains.
Likewise, RPatz has overcome his Twilight past. He’s successfully thrown off his vampire wings to lead another franchise. Edward Cullen no more; he has reinvented himself as Bruce Wayne.
The Batman prowls the city at night, interrupting, say, gang members assaulting someone on a subway platform or a robber at a bodega. When he appears on the scene of a crime, the bad guys laugh at him and his batsuit. In a sullen voice, he directs them to cease and desist with the criminal activity. They don’t, so then he beats the sh** out of them. It looks like a lot more work than Spiderman has to do; he just swings in and wraps them in webs til the cops show up.
Just like with Spidey, the public doesn’t know how to feel about this costumed vigilante. And the dummies who are running things at the Gotham Police Department can’t see Batman’s value. Except for cop James Gordon–future Commissioner. He and his mustache are played to fine effect by Jeffrey Wright (The French Dispatch and West World). Gordon is either at the end of his tether asking himself aloud, “What is going on here?!” or explaining o the audience what we are seeing, like, “Looks like he wants a monopoly on the drug scene.”
When RPatzman shows up at the site of a murder, Gordon has the other cops make way so Batman can take little baby half steps in his thudding Frankenstein shoes over to the victim. Then he whispers things like “I am the shadows” and “I am vengeance.” Ok, if you say so!
The foe in The Batman is The Riddler. At each crime scene/murder, he leaves Batman an old-timey greeting card with a riddle clue. Batman is good at riddles. Unless they involve Spanish– apparently he’s never heard of gendered articles. He was probably too busy listening to Nirvana and Evanescence as a kid to attend to his language studies.
The actor who plays The Riddler* is a late reveal, and he nearly approaches Joaquin Phoenix’s heights/depths as The Joker in his truncated screen time. I will tell you that he does a kickass delivery of “Ave Maria.”
In the spirit of the handsome-now-unrecognizable actor, we have Colin Farrell as the Penguin. Like Jared Leto in House of Gucci, his face is uglified and he’s given a prosthetic gut. He looks like Robert DeNiro playing 1930’s gangster Al Capone. In this film he runs a nightclub, and one of the employees is…
Catwoman! Catwoman/Selina Kyle is nicely underplayed by Zoe Kravitz. Batman first meets up with her when he interrupts one of her burglaries. They tussle and I was concerned that one of them might be rabid, since bats and cats are rabies-vector species. Fortunately, they safely sort things out and he visits her at her apartment where we observe that she is a cat lady. “You got a lot of cats,” Batman observes. Thanks, Captain Obvious, we can see that.
The Bat and the Cat kinda work together and kinda have sexual chemistry. They are both so pretty that I wanted them to make sweet bat-cat love and have a beautiful human baby in real life. (Sadly, we should not ship them right now because RPatz is with Suki Waterhouse and Zoe is with Channing Tatum. Supposedly.) Anyway, Catwoman shows interest in RPatzman, but he is too depressed to get an erection.
The focus of The Batman’s criminal investigation is wrapped up in drugs, murder and corruption. Poor Batman. Gotham is steady fuel for his depression. Well, if he insists on staying and fighting the good fight, he could at least try and up his mood with a “sunlight” therapy lamp. Maybe try and make a batsuit-free date with Catwoman. And possibly edge your playlist over to post-emo.
* The actor who plays The Riddler is masked through much of the movie. Read no further if you want to be surprised—He is: Luap Onad. Yup, turn it around for the answer.