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The time has come, fellow Gothamites! Later this week, Warner Bros. will finally release The Batman into theaters following a number of COVID-related production issues that threatened to put the Dark Knight on his back for good. Luckily, director and co-writer Matt Reeves was able to see his vision through to the very end, crafting a three-hour reboot for the iconic Caped Crusader (played here by Tenet's Robert Pattinson) with the 83-year history.
Let's get down to brass tacks, though: is the movie any good?
SYFY WIRE has seen the film and is happy to report that The Batman is not only great, but also makes the central hero feel fresh again after so many revivals and continuities. Other critics agree with us and some are going so far as to call this one of the greatest — if not the greatest — superhero movie ever made. And with all due respect to the Nolan trilogy, it might just be the best Batman title ever made.
Set in the grittiest, grimiest, and scariest version of Gotham City we've seen onscreen yet, this take on the brooding vigilante is less comic book movie and more of an amalgam of '70s political thriller and neo-noir classics like Chinatown and All the President's Men. David Fincher's Se7en was also a major influence, particularly when it comes to the main villain, a Zodiac-inspired take on Riddler (Paul Dano), who starts picking off high-ranking targets. This draws a young, inexperienced, and rather brutal Bruce Wayne into a conspiracy of graft and corruption and that runs deep within the roots of the town he's working so hard to protect.
With support from an up-and-coming Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) of the Gotham City Police Department, Batman investigates the string of murders, crossing paths with a number of famous baddies like Selina Kyle's Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot's Penguin (Colin Farrell), and powerful crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro).
Rupert Penry-Jones (Mayor Don Mitchell Jr.), Peter Sarsgaard (Gotham DA, Gil Colson), Jayme Lawson, (Gotham mayoral hopeful, Bella Reál), and Andy Serkis (Alfred Pennyworth) co-star.
Head below to see what critics are saying...
"The Batman gets under your skin by asking: What if the good guys aren’t really the good guys? What if the person we were counting on to protect us might actually be making the situation worse?... The Chinatown-intricate specifics of just how intertwined city government is with organized crime can make your head spin, though Reeves lays it out relatively elegantly, such that audiences can follow the many twists of Batman’s investigation." -Peter Debruge, Variety
"Reeves delivers a lot of movie. Does it stretch the definition of escapism to immerse ourselves in a fiction so reflective of the toxic cynicism that pervades our 21st century reality? Perhaps. But this glowering study in crime and punishment is meticulously crafted, vividly inhabited storytelling with a coherent, thought-through vision, and that makes for muscular entertainment." -David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
"At a time when the standard superhero blockbuster features omnipotent aliens threatening the Earth, the Universe, and even the multiverse with obliteration, it's a relief to immerse yourself in a noirish pulp fantasy that's closer in scale and tone to an episode of a prestigious TV cop show. This is very much a low-stakes Batman tale, with no significant danger posed to Gotham City, let alone the rest of the world. All our hero has to do is solve some simple puzzles and beat up some muggers and nightclub bouncers, and so, despite the ominous atmosphere, you never have to worry that he might fail. You can just relax and let him get on with it." -Nicholas Barber, BBC
"The Batman’s running time mostly acts as one of its greatest assets. Here is a superhero movie that is deliberately paced and takes its time to live with its characters and the tangled web they weave through the city. Minus a few obligatory scenes of Pattinson’s bleary eyes being unhooded from his mask, revealing a thousand-yard stare and smeared makeup worthy of the grunge music on the soundtrack, there is no real “Bruce Wayne” scene — as in Bruce going out in public — for the first whole hour." -David Crow, Den of Geek
"The Batman is a gripping, gorgeous, and, at times, genuinely scary psychological crime thriller that gives Bruce Wayne the grounded detective story he deserves. Robert Pattinson is great as a very broken Batman, but it’s Zoe Kravitz and Paul Dano who steal the show, with a movingly layered Selina Kyle/Catwoman and a terrifyingly unhinged Riddler. Writer/director Matt Reeves managed to make a Batman movie that’s entirely different from the others in the live-action canon, yet surprisingly loyal to Gotham lore as a whole. Ultimately, it’s one that thoroughly earns its place in this iconic character’s legacy." -Alex Stedman, IGN
'The Batman runs a whopping two hours and fifty-six minutes. The mystery is intense, gripping, and detailed. There is a point where Matt Reeves reaches perfection. Then goes on for another thirty minutes. The final act somewhat dilutes achieved greatness. But there’s an understandable philosophical lesson that the film wants to teach. The Batman is going to blow audiences out of their chairs. Just use the bathroom first and get a small soda." -Julian Roman, MovieWeb
"Perhaps most impressive is the way The Batman balances its tone. Reeves has managed to combine the gritty realism of the Christopher Nolan "Dark Knight" trilogy with a more fantastical, pulpy comic book approach. It reminds one of "Batman: The Animated Series," which was set in some sort of strange in-between timeline that was both ultra-modern and choked with a retro, art deco style. The Batman is grounded and dark, but it's also full of big, bold, reality-straining swings. And we buy it all because Reeves does such a fantastic job drawing us into this world and making it feel believable; timeless, even.'" -Chris Evangelista, /FILM
"The Batman gets to the heart of the character while maintaining his humanity. The film is grounded as it explores the depth of corruption in Gotham, while exhibiting the vigilante's skills as an intelligent detective. Reeves and his team have crafted a Batman film that offers a different side to the hero audiences have come to know and love. With exhilarating action scenes, a layered story, and poignant, in-depth characterization, The Batman is a worthy addition to the live-action DC slate." -Mae Abdulbaki, ScreenRant
"There is something to the idea of a moody, introverted Batman whose access to wealth makes him feel disconnected from the very city he swears he wants to defend. But this incarnation of the character puts so little effort into trying to maintain the semblance of a double life that you’re left wondering how no one’s managed to figure out who he is. That sort of flimsy world-building and the notable thematic similarities this film ends up bearing to Todd Phillips’ 2019 Joker are a big part of what makes The Batman feel like one of the lesser entries, substance-wise, in the grand Batman cinematic canon." -Charlies Pulliam-Moore, The Verge
"While Reeves unfortunately retreats to the safety of franchise-building mode with the penultimate scene, The Batman succeeds in transforming the Bat-Signal into a beacon of hope rather than something to fear. Not just for the citizens of Gotham, but also for the multiplex audiences who will inevitably have to visit the city a few more times before Hollywood gives us somewhere else to go. Compared to the superhero movies that came before it, “The Batman” is already halfway there." -David Ehrlich, IndieWire
The Batman arrives in theaters everywhere this Friday — March 4.