It’s always risky to reboot a character as iconic as Batman, who has already had so many cinematic adaptations – especially ones so beloved in film fans’ hearts, like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Matt Reeves’ neo-noir take brings the character back to his roots as the film takes on more of a detective story approach, and at three hours long, The Batman certainly comes close to indulgent – but the extended runtime is rarely felt thanks to the genuinely compelling mystery at its core.
As psychotic serial killer The Riddler (Paul Dano) targets Gotham City’s elite during Batman’s (Robert Pattinson) second year fighting crime, the nocturnal vigilante finds himself journeying deep into the seedy underbelly of the perpetually dark, rain-soaked city to uncover the haunting truth behind the murders.
With echoes of David Fincher‘s Zodiac and Se7en felt throughout, The Batman often feels like more of a serial killer mystery/thriller than a superhero film – Dano’s Riddler is especially haunting; his unforgettable scenes could have easily been pulled straight out of a horror film. Pattinson is certainly one of the quietest and most disturbed iterations of the character yet, putting in a stunningly restrained albeit brutal-when-required performance. The supporting cast – Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright and an unrecognisable Colin Farrell as The Penguin are all mesmerising. But as is the case with a lot of comic book films, The Batman belongs to its’ villain and Paul Dano is flawless.
The film looks and sounds utterly stunning – the production design is impeccable, offering the most frightening and truly alive Gotham City ever seen on screen. The score is also top-notch, with Michael Giacchino delivering the finest Batman theme to date. Sorry Hans. The action is thrillingly visceral with every punch felt, and stunningly choreographed. There is a lot to love here. But The Batman is not without its issues. As mentioned, the extended runtime can veer dangerously close to indulgence as the film desperately crams itself with twists and turns. There is a lot happening and the film can be quite exhausting as a result, even if it is engrossing. And the grungy approach can certainly feel quite pretentious and laughable; the repeated use of Nirvana feels almost like a spoof while the broody – and thankfully sparingly-used – narration certainly doesn’t help that issue. On the whole, though, The Batman is an unmissable cinematic experience that will almost certainly go down as one of the finest caped crusader adaptations.
As for the new 4K UHD release, this is truly a reference-quality disc. With a native 2160p encode aided by HDR10/Dolby Vision enhancement, The Batman’s world of shadows and darkness are even more immersive here – pulling us into the rain-drenched Gotham City and allowing us to feel every bit of dirt and grime. This isn’t a film that looks particularly pretty – it doesn’t have the 4K wow factor of a more ‘showy’ blockbuster Godzilla vs Kong. But the film’s distinctively dark and gritty style is captured faithfully on the 4K format, giving viewers the definitive presentation of the film. There really is no other way to watch it. A powerful Dolby Atmos audio track compliments these impeccable visuals, allowing every punch to be felt, while a shotgun blast in the film’s final act is particularly memorable. The 4K disc is an absolute feast for eyes and ears alike. A generously-loaded bonus Blu-ray disc of supplemental features rounds out the package, boasting a large selection of short featurettes alongside 54-minute doc Vengeance in the Making.
THE BATMAN IS AVAILABLE NOW ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD
AVAILABLE ON 4K, BLU-RAY, AND DVD – 13 JUNE 2022