Posted in 2020-2029, Film Review

The Batman (2022)

© Warner Bros and DC Comics

The Batman  – Film Review

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell

Director: Matt Reeves

Synopsis: In his second year of crime-fighting in Gotham City, Batman begins to investigate a series of crimes that appear to be connected to a serial killer known as The Riddler…

Review: Ever since the character of Batman made his comics debut in 1939, there has been something that’s inescapably appealing about this iconic character. It’s a testament to Batman’s creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger, that in the ensuing decades, his popularity has not waned (pun absolutely intended). For generations of comic book fans, he has continued to be arguably the most recognisable, and popular superhero of all time. Given the character’s popularity, it’s no surprise that numerous directors have taken on the challenge of adapting him for the big screen. Over the years, we’ve seen the sublime, and the ridiculous. Now, under the vision of Matt Reeves, a fantastic new interpretation of the Dark Knight has been born.

Bruce Wayne (Pattinson) is in his second year of fighting crime in Gotham City as the masked vigilante known as Batman. Gotham is a city that’s seemingly trapped in perpetual rainfall, combined with the murky cloud of the city’s extensive criminal underworld. It’s a grim combination that gives Gotham an ominous, foreboding atmosphere, where crime is running rampant and the police are overwhelmed. When a series of brutal murders start taking place in the city, Batman and the Gotham City Police Force begin to investigate. As they begin to piece together the sadistic clues left behind at these grisly crime scenes, they begin to uncover evidence that all of these crimes are linked to a masked serial killer known only as The Riddler.

Donning The Bat’s cape and cowl is an extraordinary responsibility for the actor to take on. Many great actors have taken on this challenge, and every time, each one has brought something unique to the role. With Pattinson’s portrayal, he proves what an outstanding choice he was to take on the mantle. Batman is a character who has multiple aspects to his personality, the man he is behind the mask is a very different one to the one who dons the mask. Any actor tasked with this role must differentiate between these personalities, and Pattinson hits the mark perfectly. However, the casting of Batman is just one piece of the puzzle. One cannot have Batman without his trusted Police ally, Jim Gordon. Side by side with Batman as they solve this riddle, Wright brings his usual charisma to this role, and the pair of them make an effective crime-fighting duo. Plus, one cannot talk about Bruce Wayne’s allies without mentioning Alfred. It’s rare to see him outside of motion-capture performances, but in what screen time he has, Andy Serkis excels.

Casting is such an important part of film-making and it’s high time these people were recognised for their work, especially when the choices, like in this film are flawless. Selina Kyle/Catwoman is always a nuanced and fascinating character to explore. Not quite a hero, but far from a villain, especially when compared to some of the citizens of Gotham. We see a very interesting element to her backstory that’s seldom been explored before, and the chemistry between Kravitz and Pattinson’s Batman is extremely palpable. Of all the iconic superheroes that have graced the big screen over the years, there’s arguably no superhero that has quite more the eclectic gallery of villains than Batman. Though we’ve seen certainly seen some villains more than others. Hence, it is extremely pleasing to see the film bring to the fore many villains that haven’t had as much exposure as others.

Caking an actor in a considerable amount of makeup is not a guaranteed recipe for success, but in this instance, it works perfectly. Unrecognisable under said makeup as the dastardly Penguin, Colin Farell is clearly having a ball with this villainous role. However, in Paul Dano’s portrayal of the Riddler, here’s an extraordinary, terrifying performance that is destined to join the ranks of iconic villains that we have seen in Batman films over the last several decades. From the moment the Riddler makes his first appearance, he immediately sends chills down the spine, delightfully taunting Batman and the Gotham Police with the crimes he’s carrying out. Plus, with all the clues that he leaves at the crime scenes, it makes for a fascinating game of Cat (or should that be Bat?) and Mouse as Batman faces a race against time to solve these clues and figure out what The Riddler is planning.

After his extraordinary work with the two most recent Planet of the Apes films, self-confessed Batman fan Matt Reeves proves he was the perfect choice to helm this new take on this character. The script, written by Reeves and Peter Craig, remains gripping right throughout the 175-minute running time, whilst perfectly illustrating that Batman’s skills as a detective are second to none. Hence, the decision to pit him against the Riddler was proved to be an absolute masterstroke, as he’s a character someone who is well equipped to take on Batman in those psychological mind games. Combined with Greg Fraser’s suitably brooding cinematography that captures Gotham’s ominous atmosphere, Reeves’s direction, especially with those action scenes that are drenched in a continuous downpour, is especially thrilling. For a film that’s just shy of three hours, questions are always going to be asked about that run time, and the editing by William Hoy and Tyler Nelson ensures that the film is perfectly paced.

Through all the decades that we’ve seen Batman on screen, there’s been no shortage of memorable scores that have accompanied the Caped Crusader. Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer have both given this character an instantly recognizable theme. With his atmospheric score, Michael Giacchino can add his name to the list of composers who have provided iconic music for this character. Through each new portrayal, the enduring appeal of Batman has been passed down through generations of audiences. With this fantastic new incarnation, the legend of The Dark Knight continues to shine brightly, like the Bat-signal illuminating the skies of Gotham City. Bob Kane and Bill Finger would be immensely proud.

Dark and filled to the brim with nerve-shredding scenes that perfectly capture the essence of everything that makes Batman who he is. Matt Reeves’s vision of this iconic character is one that will stand the test of time, as one of the best versions ever produced. 

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Swiss Army Man (2016)

Image is property of A24, Tadmor, Astrakan Films AB, Cold Iron Pictures, Blackbird Films and Prettybird

Swiss Army Man Film Review

Cast:  Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe

Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

Synopsis: A suicidal man (Dano) is all alone on a beach and is about to commit suicide when he sees a deceased man (Radcliffe) on the beach, who happens to have some gassy problems.

Review: Every so often, a film comes along that has a premise that after reading or hearing about it, it just stops you in you tracks in sheer bemusement. You look at it and just think, “Huh???” This is certainly applicable to this film from a pair of directors who call themselves “The Daniels” in what is their first foray into major motion picture film-making. If nothing else this film is certainly a very original concept given the domination of sequels and reboots in Hollywood these days, but sometimes that is not always a good thing.

The story focuses on Hank, a man who has all but given up on life and is about to end it all when he spots the motionless man lying on the beach. This gives Hank a reason to keep going and together the duo go on an adventure in order to get home. Originality in Hollywood, certainly in big blockbusters has become something of a rare thing, so in this respect Swiss Army Man is to be praised, for offering something different to the big screen, like no film has before. Yet there is a difference between originality and just completely fucking weird. This isn’t to say all weird films are bad, but this is not the good kind of weird at all.

You have to wonder at times if a 12 year old boy wrote the script because the humour is very low-brow. Fart jokes were common place when you were in primary school and as adults it can be funny too, but to use it a device in a Hollywood movie is a risky move, and for the most part it doesn’t work. There are some humorous moments and jokes for sure, but it gets to a point where those sorts of jokes stop being funny after the tenth time, and these two very talented actors are ultimately wasted on what is a very weak script. It is trying to have a deeper meaning on life but these messages are negated by the excessive use of the toilet humour, it just simply does not work. The chemistry between the two of them is barely existent, which isn’t a surprise that one of them is meant to be dead!  There are attempts at teaching some life lessons in there but it’s negated by the fact that one of the characters is meant to be a dead man, who through no particular explanation comes to life somehow and starts talking!

Dano doesn’t really break any ground with his performance, but Radcliffe does try to give him credit. It is certainly a very different role when compared to The Boy Who Lived, but as The Man Who Farts, not quite as enthralling to watch. The film visually is impressive, there are some nice wide shots on the island and the Daniels helm it well. The soundtrack too is also of a decent quality,  but that is of little importance when you’re script is weighed down a very silly way of telling the story, which at just over an hour and a half shouldn’t feel long, but this felt like like it was a lot longer, which is never a good sign. Movies that take risks deserve attention and when done well, deserve merit, but that is not applicable here.

Points for originality and a creative premise, but these are negated by a very weak and messy script that is full of holes and bogged down by an over reliance on childish toilet humour.

Rating: D