(Note: This piece of writing may contain spoilers in the context of the movie ‘The Batman’ directed by Matt Reeves)
“I’m Vengeance” I literally lost my voice while screaming for that one sentence!
Wow, that was amazing, vengeful, and oh, so DARK! This was easily one of the best comic book movies that I have ever seen. The overall cinematography experience, the intensity, and the music of this movie were outstanding. The heavy-weighted dialogues of this movie surpass the action scenes and show us the power of good screenwriting. I never truly understood the symbolization of Batman being fearful, but seeing him being so unforgiving and finding solace in the dark and scary shadows of the streets does the trick for me.
We are seeing something that we’ve never seen on the big screen before- the Batman film where a young Bruce Wayne isn’t all good, where Batman isn’t the answer to pain but a continuance of that pain. The violence he inflicts is personal, not a selfless superhero motive. His heroism isn’t all black and white, it is grayer. He has a lot of healing to do, a lot of empathy to discover, a lot of anger to let go of.
Standing triumphantly at the center of the movie is a commanding performance from Robert Pattinson as a raw Cape Crusader early into his vigilante career. The scars that decorate Bruce Wayne stood out in this movie.
There were scenes where he didn’t even converse with anyone but his intense eyes spoke for themselves. I liked how the black eyeliner smudged near his eyes, increasing the intensity of his emotions. And the way he daunted the Batman suit, along with the fact that his surprisingly short and mind-blowing dialogues were so grim and oppressive, expressing the darkness of Batman. It’s fair to say that Pattinson has surpassed the criticism he received when it was announced he would play the role of Batman.
His chemistry with Commissioner Gordon is collaborative and with Selina Kyle (Catwoman) is electric. Bruce and Selina are like two broken puzzle pieces with differing ideologies that fit each other perfectly and give each other something the other one desperately needs. Speaking of Catwoman, Zoë Kravitz was mind-blowing, fitting into the role so comfortably.
I liked how she wasn’t just a love interest in the movie but formed an integral part of the central mystery. Witty, acrobatic, complex, and compelling all the traits in a typical Catwoman, were all present in Zoë’s character.
Then the unrecognizable Colin Farrell is brewing in the role of the Penguin, quietly filling the need for balance in the movie. You can sense in his disfigurement and walk that he is traumatized, too. And with a show due to release on HBO Max which will revolve around this character. The future indeed looks bright for Colin Farrell as The Penguin.
No movie is complete without the strong personation of a villain. And let’s face it, the Riddler of this movie was very unexpected and unhinging to watch. It was very different from the iconic Riddler played by Jim Carrey, but it fit the bill of intense darkness as the theme of the movie quite perfectly.
This character has cemented its place into the long list of superbly cinematically portrayed, complicated and psychotic supervillains of the D.C universe. All the horror elements of this film, through his supposedly killing of the corrupted, are jarring and unforgettable. Paul Deno symbolizes a character who has a very similar backstory to Bruce Wayne and can go to any evil extent to satisfy his obsession with exposing the lies of the city and creating havoc in it.
Matt Reeves, the director of this movie, advertised this film to be a detective movie that felt like film noir and it certainly felt heading in that direction. He is the kind of director who isn’t afraid to look into the darkness of the soul of humanity. His main aim is to create an experience where he puts the audience into his storyline world and thereby putting us into the mind of his characters. I think Matt Reeves might even be the one, among many, directors to have truly made the audience aware of the chaotic and demonic nature of Bruce Wayne’s mind and the madness it generally is in. A lot of us can relate in some ways to working through our pain and the expectation of always getting up. The expectation that we’ll continue fighting no matter what we suffer, that’s the war Bruce Wayne wages, not his war on crime but the war within himself. Witnessing him never give up that fight and the truth is that makes the character perpetual.
He makes the character more tangible and relatable to the present mental health-focused world. There’s a relevance here to feel in the modern world of doing the right thing in the face of evil. We know the world of Gotham is broken and very messy, but that doesn’t mean everyone should join that chaos. Like the handful of goons that in the end eventually did join the army in the final stages. They have been distorted in the villain’s view and if Batman didn’t have the wealth or the luxury he may have become the opposite to what he eventually does. The comfort that Alfred gives him and the steps he takes to help him grow up in the face of the trauma he felt like a little boy, is what separates him from the villainy he strives to strike down.
Of course, one guy without whom this film wouldn’t have been possible is Greig Fraser, the cinematographer of this film.
In Fraser, Reeves has a cinematographer who uses ILM’s stagecraft for filming this movie which truly made it stand out and different. From the vicious-minded take of Gotham City to the several crisp textures and focused frames of scenes, it really does increase the cinematic experience. The use of colors and camera angles are quite extravagant, especially placing the camera on the vehicle’s sides for the Batmobile chase. Along with this, the scene where Batman and Catwoman share a look with the city in the background.
And then he also uses the POV shots when we are with the Batman, with the camera mostly at the side of him or close a lot of time, really placing us in shoes as he feels the weight of Riddler’s killing or every reveal about his parents and so on.
And finally, in the end, there is a slow transformation of Vengeance into Hope and Heroism. What makes him a hero is the drive to endure throughout this losing battle and do so with a determination to save Gotham city. He puts up a fight and avoids what the Riddler thought he would become. The ending drives home the feeling of heroism in the face of defeat by separating Batman from the psychopathic criminals he fights. It’s the closest we have gotten to a Batman Horror film and that really pushes it away from what we are used to seeing. It gives us a very absorbing experience of storytelling and ironically makes time tick faster.
About the Author: Piyush Nahar is a First-Year student at Manipal Institute of Technology, MAHE. Just a random dude trying to figure out the ways of life, lol, if there are any. Constantly trying to improve on his listening skills, because he has been told that it is a very handy skill in a lot of aspects of life. And believes that whoever asks the other person out, irrespective of gender has to at least offer to pay for them going out.