‘The Batman’ reviews praise Robert Pattinson’s take on the Caped Crusader from Matt Reeves

This year officially marks a decade since the release of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” which is the last time the Caped Crusader appeared onscreen in a live-action solo movie. Not that audiences were lacking Batman content: Ben Affleck played the Dark Knight in multiple DC Comics movies, including “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Justice League,” and “Suicide Squad.” (Affleck also appeared as Batman in director Zack Snyder’s long-awaited recut of “Justice League” last year.) There was even a time when Affleck was set to star and direct his own solo film featuring Batman, but the project that later was handed over to filmmaker Matt Reeves and, after Affleck stepped aside completely, star Robert Pattinson

If you were one of the many people who couldn’t wait to see what Reeves and company had in store for this latest take on Batman, you’re in luck. Critics showered “The Batman” with praise this week, including Gizmodo’s Germain Lussier, who described the film as “a gritty mystery that’s gripping and exciting, coupled with several high-octane action scenes and tons of gorgeous imagery.”

Many critics were quick to point out the film’s incredibly dark tone, with many positing that “The Batman” is even grimmer and grounded than Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy. As Variety critic Peter Debruge wrote, the film “registers among the best of the genre, even if — or more aptly, because — what makes the film so great is its willingness to dismantle and interrogate the very concept of superheroes.”

Another recurring theme in the film’s review lineup was those who pointed out that Pattinson’s portrayal of the titular character is among the grittiest. Writing about his performance in the film for Deadline, Pete Hammond noted that Pattinson’s caped crusader is “a crimefighter exhausted by the effort to get a handle on a corrupt, dark and hopeless metropolis, a person we meet in a kind of purgatory. He is not quite Batman but rather The Drifter, as he tries to find his footing before landing in full regalia on Halloween night with the populace not sure if he is a trick-or-treater or something weirder.”

Rolling Stone’s David Fear also pointed out that Pattinson’s Batman is “more moody, emo, and enraged than ever”, also going on to write that “at its best, ‘The Batman’ is a helluva tough-guy yarn — an entertaining pulp-fiction epic under the guise of sure-thing blockbuster. At its worst, it’s the cinematic equivalent of a mixtape.”

However, not everybody was a fan of Reeves’ new take on the Dark Knight, including Polygon writer Joshua Rivera, who wrote, “‘The Batman’ is frustratingly safe, a movie full of potential for more and settling for less. It preaches to the choir, reinforcing the same ideas trodden over and over again across five movies.”

Meanwhile, David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a B-grade rating and wrote, “that it doesn’t come off as a parody of a parody is a testament to both the holistic nature of Reeves’ vision and the eagerness with which Pattinson buys into it.” 

He also praised Greig Fraiser, an Oscar nominee this year for Dune, writing that the cinematographer’s work is impressively dark. “His Stygian color palette extending Bruce’s personal hell across the whole of Gotham — to a degree that makes them seem like a scorched-earth rebuttal to the candied aesthetic of most other superhero movies (and a serious crisis for any corporate multiplex that doesn’t regularly change its projector bulbs),” Ehrlich wrote.

“The Batman” follows the titular hero (Robert Pattinson) during his second year of fighting crime who pursues the Riddler (Paul Dano), a serial killer who targets elite Gotham City citizens. He uncovers corruption that connects to his own family during the investigation, and is forced to make new allies to catch the Riddler and bring the corrupt to justice

“The Batman” is out in theaters on March 4, 2022.

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