‘The Batman’ exceeds expectations with unique cinematography and realism

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‘The Batman’ (2022) has been in theaters since March 4. (Photo courtesy of IMDB)

Myles Wolf, Movie Columnist

With its casting of former “Twilight” vampire Robert Pattinson as Batman, many were skeptical that “The Batman” would succeed. Combining that with additional uncertainty surrounding the film’s ability to remain necessary, distinctive and unique following the critically acclaimed “Dark Knight” trilogy, the expectations for this film were low.

However, I am happy to report that this reimagining of the caped crusader is a worthy successor that adds dimensions of thriller and horror to the Batman franchise.

This Batman is not simply a man dressed up as a bat who beats up endless goons without taking a single blow. Instead, he is a vulnerable vigilante who must approach contentious situations strategically and carefully to protect his own life. Additionally, this Batman is inexperienced, with only two years on the job. The film displays his capacity to make mistakes while also learning from previous miscalculations. This makes the intelligence of his primary adversary, the Riddler, seem more threatening since Batman must keep up with a criminal who fights with his mind rather than his fists.

Unlike previous movies, this Batman is a slow-paced experience that is steeped in realism. Here, there is a greater focus on Batman as a detective. There is also a stronger emphasis on themes like surveillance, investigation and interrogation. The change in narrative scope allows viewers to more easily notice the corruption, poverty, drugs and secrecy that are apparent in every street corner of Gotham.

What further separates “The Batman” from the “Dark Knight” trilogy or Tim Burton’s “Batman” is its unique cinematography, which generates a well-crafted atmosphere. Director Matt Reeves makes great use of shadows by contrasting them with bright, multi-colored light shafts, generating foreboding moods in every setting. This makes the nightlife in Gotham’s gangster hideouts, apartment complexes, subway stations and commercial districts feel uncertain, dangerous and captivating all at the same time. The film also holds onto its shots for extended periods of time, allowing the viewer to appreciate these stylistic choices more.

On the other hand, I wish the dialogue and characterization matched the artistic prowess of this film’s visuals, narratives and thought-provoking commentary. While the characters appear and sound vocally distinctive, the discourse of the heroes and villains feels somewhat generic and unquotable. Batman and Catwoman seem too similar to me in terms of their personalities.

Additionally, the differences between villains like the Riddler, the Penguin and Falcone are not prominent enough in my opinion. This may have been an effort to create an ensemble cast that could draw more attention to the film’s themes about hidden criminality and deception. However, I still found the similarities in dialogue distracting.

Overall, I had a great time watching “The Batman” with friends. I am glad to see that, much like “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” superhero films continue to perform strongly at the box office. “The Batman” successfully pairs great entertainment with high substance to create a meaningful movie that I feel ultimately surpassed expectations.