The Batman at gritty level 1

Before you go any further, this article contains major spoilers, so if you haven’t seen this movie, and you intend to, then don’t go any further.

Have they gone? Good.

So first of all, I will say that I initially enjoyed the experience of watching this movie on the big screen. There are some great action set pieces, good performances and spectacular visuals. And that Batmobile? Wow! That was the best looking Bat-ride since the iconic 1966 model.

It was only after sleeping on it that the shortcomings of this movie, like the morning sun, dawned on me.

And boy were there some massive shortcomings!

The Batman at gritty level 6

Shortcoming number one is the character of ‘the’ Batman himself. He didn’t actually achieve anything in this movie. Not one damn thing. I mean, what was he even doing here?

The whole plot revolves around the Riddler (terrifyingly played by Paul Dano), offing in gruesome ways various corrupt members of Gotham City’s administration. At the scene of every killing he leaves a clue for ‘the’ Batman, which ‘the’ Batman either solves or doesn’t. Either way, it makes absolutely no difference to the story, because at no point does he thwart any of the Riddler’s plans. In fact, the only reason he was captured at all was because he effectively gave himself up. And his grand scheme to flood Gotham? Well, that came off. So what was the point of this movie? To watch the hero fail at every turn? To see him get played for a sucker by the bad guy?

Also, the only reason the newly elected mayor survives an assassination attempt is because the gunman apparently misses. Not because ‘the’ Batman saves her.

So, like I say, what the hell was the point of ‘the’ Batman?

Honestly, it’s no wonder that Gotham City is overrun with criminals when its caped crusader and its police department are this inept. And oh boy, the cops in this movie are sensationally inept! How did any of these guys manage to pass the entrance exam?

Anyway, at the end of the movie ‘the’ Batman is lauded as some sort of beacon of hope, a font of inspiration, a hero, despite having resolutely failed to make any kind of dent in any of the Riddler’s plans whatsoever.

Save for one.

The Riddler intended to off Bruce Wayne, but didn’t.

Which brings me to my next gripe. Where the hell was Bruce Wayne in this movie? That’s why the Riddler couldn’t ice him. It was because he was nowhere to be seen. Wayne only gets what feels like a few minutes of screen time while his crime fighting alter ego is in it pretty much all the way through. We got no sense of how these two competing psyches are balanced, no sense of Wayne’s life outside of the Batcave. Does he even have one? What does he do all day when he’s not punching out bad guys?

The Batman at gritty level 10

One last thing, and I appreciate that this boils down to personal taste, but jeez! Did this film really have to be such an unrelenting misery-fest! It’s supposed to be a superhero movie – you know, thrills and spills – but instead plays out more like Se7en. How much bleaker can these damn movies get before we reach peak bleak?

If these Batman reboots continue to get progressively longer, darker and grittier, then the next one is destined to be nothing more than six-and-a-half solid hours of a completely black screen accompanied by incoherent mumbling.

But let me return to the reboot in question for a moment. Specifically, to the culmination of the Riddler’s aforementioned plan to blow up Gotham’s flood defences and deluge the city. Which, as I have already stated, came off.

Remember the days when the good guys in a movie would thwart the bad guys’ plans and prevent whatever apocalypse they had in mind? Indeed, that was the whole point of a movie having good guys in the first place. But these days we more often than not get to see that apocalypse unfold. And why? I suspect it’s for no other reason than we now have the SFX technology to show it.

The grand finale of a movie is no longer the down-to-the-wire scramble to save the city from destruction – perhaps that’s no longer considered spectacular enough – but the destruction itself.

So, yes, all this has left rather a sour taste in my mouth and I find myself with no particular desire to ever watch this movie again. Which is a shame, because it could have been monumental.

Hopefully, next time, ‘the’ Batman might actually make a difference to the story and even, you know, win. That would be nice.

Published by Richard E. Rock

Cat-loving, headbanging author of the dark and fantastical.

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