The Batman – A Dark And Brutal Serial Killer Story With A Vengeful Batman

MOVIE REVIEW – Kurt Cobain’s harrowing Something in the Way is the central musical motif in this noir tale of the “world’s greatest detective” investigating a serial killer who is most reminiscent of the killers in two David Fincher classics, The Seventh and Zodiac. The Batman is an excellent Dark Knight movie – but that’s about as much as you can get from Matt Reeves’ film.



Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) is only two years into his role as the masked vigilante known as Batman when a serial killer calling himself the Riddler (Paul Dano) starts taking out Gotham City’s high profile personalities one after the other. With the help of Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Bruce must unravel the clues and stop a terrorist attack – while also dealing with his family’s legacy.


MOZI HÍREK - A Batman sztárja, Robert Pattinson nem tudta, hogy a karaktert a világ egyik legnagyobb detektívjeként ismerik.


Batman Noir, or the darkest knight ever


“Gotham loves a comeback story,” says Paul Dano’s Riddler at one of The Batman’s critical points. After the twin disappointments of Batman V Superman and Justice League, the Dark Knight himself had to rise again. Other big returners include Robert Pattinson, the latest actor to don the cape and cowl, and director Matt Reeves, who previously breathed life into the Planet of the Apes sequels and directed Cloverfield.

While it has lifted the character out of the DCEU continuity in a standalone superhero film that runs nearly three hours, this is the darkest Knight yet – a film that has far more in common with David Fincher’s Seventh or Zodiac than your average comic book movie.

This is not poetic hyperbole. The Batman opens with Dano’s fearsome Riddler beating a man to death, while the man’s eerie death screams are heard. The sequel gets tougher and tougher as the puzzle-obsessed psychopath murders his victims without mercy along with his own “justice” in a way that would make even John Doe (The Seventh) of Zodiac or The Saw Killer proud. This is not Jim Carrey dancing around in funny clothes and being silly, that’s for sure…



This Batman’s wounds will not heal


The dark atmosphere, perfectly suited to the original comic book character, is combined with almost total realism. In this film, the story of Gotham and Batman is rooted in reality, with a psychological and physical reality that is close to the real. This is not a world of superheroes and alien beings from another planet. Here, Batarangs are not shurikens thrown with superhuman precision, but knives used to cut the police tape that seals off murder scenes. The Batmobile is not a super-vehicle that can be converted into a tank at any time, as in the third Batman: Arkham Knight, but a beefed-up American muscle car. The batsuit may be bulletproof, but this is a Batman whose scars don’t heal so easily – hardly ever physically and never figuratively.

Two decades after the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne and two years after Bruce’s “career” as a batman, the plot centers on a masked madman who murders the town’s influential people and destroys their reputations in the process. Puzzles conspicuously left at the scene of each crime, addressed to “The Batman”, lead Sergeant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to seek the caped vigilante’s help, incurring the wrath of his GCPD superiors.

As is also typical of the film’s noirs, Batman is always one step behind his logical nemesis. In the course of his investigation, Wayne meets Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) and her alter-ego Catwoman as they delve deeper into the underbelly of Gotham’s criminal underworld, running into both the Penguin (a stunningly unrecognisable Colin Farrell) and his boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro).



“The world’s greatest detective”


It’s a dense, labyrinthine detective story that grips you from the first moment, evoking the greatest Batman classics on screen, constantly shifting and rearranging story threads to paint a richer picture of the city and its inhabitants.

However, it is the first Batman film to fully embrace the oft-forgotten fact that the good old Bat is “the world’s greatest detective”, and the story unfolds entirely on the rain-soaked streets and underworld of corruption and crime-ridden Gotham as our heroes chase a serial killer.

But this story is first and foremost about Batman. No Bat-movie has ever focused so much on the caped crusader Bat in media res rather than on his arch-enemy. Fortunately, Pattinson is very much up to the task – from a romantic vampire and teenage girl’s dream to a convincing star of indie films and film dramas, his actor has proven himself a truly credible masked crime fighter. Almost constantly infernally angry and disliked at the same time, Batman doesn’t hold back on those who cross the line into crime, but he is firmly committed to the golden rule of “no killing”.

For the Dark Knight, who employs theatrical and frightening tactics, fear is as much a weapon as his fists like meat tenderisers. The fight scenes are more punchy than most comic-book movies without consequences – in every sense of the word. They’re at once brutally and cleanly choreographed and consciously reject the incredible superhero athleticism of previous films. Instead, this Batman is a wimpy, relatively inexperienced fighter who often gets as many punches and kicks in as he does out.





As successful and believable as this Batman portrayal is, the Bruce Wayne version is a bit dull – too drab and monotonous to enjoy Wayne’s company for long. Tellingly, Reeves has kept Wayne’s appearances to a minimum. In this Gotham, Bruce is a highly aloof man who lacks the playboy glamour of Christian Bale, a billionaire with an ’emo’ haircut and gothic eye make-up reminiscent of The Cure, more of a sullen teenager than the most incredible superhero in comics. Perhaps it is more logical that a man who turns to costumed vigilantism does not have a particularly balanced personal life, but the film is not as fun to watch when Bruce is on screen.



Great side characters


This is counterbalanced by an enjoyable mix of supporting characters, mostly reimagined versions of familiar faces. Wright’s Sergeant Gordon is practically Batman’s sidekick for much of the film (“What is this, good cop, bat-shit cop?” jokes the Penguin), and the two make an enjoyable pairing. Andy Serkis’s Alfred is a rougher, tougher Pennyworth than the helpful butler of the earlier films, but his sympathy for Bruce’s “master” and concern for his dark ways is also palpable.

Colin Farrell clearly had a great time in the role of “Oz”, which comes through in his excellent performance. Even though the total masking makes his performance the most traditionally comic in the film, it is so enjoyable to watch that it is never distracting – and it also counteracts the extremely sombre tone of the film. John Turturro, meanwhile, is surprisingly central to the story of The Batman as Carmine Falcone – a character made all the more uncanny by his seemingly friendly, deeply sociopathic personality traits, which the actor brings to life with consummate professionalism.

Kravitz’s Selina Kyle is given a similarly important role, as she herself is desperately searching for a missing person alongside Batman’s investigation. This in itself is a convincing enough alliance. Still, the relationship that develops into a love story is less so – even if Pattinson and Krawitz have perfect chemistry and the film’s slightly heated eroticism fits well into this sombre story. And while Kravitz is a physically adept Catwoman whose speed and agility make up for what her stature lacks, this is not a particularly interesting or revolutionary version of a character that has been exceptionally well-realised on the screen many times before. It would be a shame to deny it: for Michelle Pfeiffer, Zoë Kravitz is no match, but Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman also convinced me.



Not boring for a minute, but three hours is a bit long


At 175 minutes long, The Batman is a film with a lot going on. It’s at once an extraordinarily detailed and grim character study, a serial killer thriller, a political conspiracy thriller about the legacy of lies, a love story between the Bat and the Cat, the story of Batman’s second year, and the origin stories of several DC villains. While we don’t see the classic murder, the beads rolling all over the place and the grief of the young child Bruce (thank goodness…) again, Bruce’s past and his connection to the rot in the heart of Gotham is key.

Gotham itself is stunningly rendered, a deliberately mundane and therefore authentic metropolis, with atmospheric locations and flawless visual effects. The Batcave and Wayne Tower are stunning Gothic spaces, but so few of them are on display that we feel a little sorry for the production team who had the trouble of creating them. Special mention should also be made of cinematographer Greig Fraser, who achieved a stunningly professional result similar to his work in The Dune, mixing deep black and other bold colours in his colour palette.

However, this excessive running time is as much a problem as it is a virtue, especially in the film’s overly crowded final act. For much of the film’s middle section, the Riddler disappears merely from the screen as the film continues the thread of the secondary criminal storyline. So the momentum is halted before the climactic scene that is ill-suited to the character-driven investigation that precedes it. Reeves is clearly a filmmaker who fell in love with this character and his world, so much so that he was simply unable to pick up the editing tools when he really needed them here. By the end of the film, I had the feeling that this final sequence from the Nolan franchise had been edited in.



Nolan’s Batman hasn’t disappeared; he’s just changed a bit


While the last Joker movie was a divisive but undoubtedly bold attempt to reimagine the beloved comic book character, this Batman is still basically treading familiar ground. It also occurred to me that Reeves and co-screenwriter Peter Craig are drawing mainly from the same material as Nolan and his collaborators in the Dark Knight trilogy. At times, Batman feels more like a darker and more violent successor to the Nolan trilogy, like a reimagined version.

To conclude my review with the thought I raised at the beginning of this article, The Batman is an excellent return to the original character, even if it focuses on the main character to the maximum, telling an incredibly well-crafted serial killer story that is at once a gripping, dark, dirty and thrilling detective story. Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Nolan trilogy is probably one of the best Batman films in every way. The triumphant return of the Dark Knight is exactly the fresh start we needed after a decade of DC decline.


The Batman

Direction - 8.4
Acteurs - 8.2
Story - 7.6
Action/Visuals - 8.2
Ambience - 8.4



The Batman is an excellent return to the original character, even as it focuses on the main character to the maximum, telling an incredibly well-crafted serial killer story that is at once gripping, dark, dirty and thrilling detective story. The triumphant return of the Dark Knight is exactly the fresh start we needed after a decade of DC decline.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines – including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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