'They think I'm hiding in the shadows. But I am the shadows.' Robert Pattinson growls at the end of his opening monologue as the rain falls on what is, arguably, the best-looking live action adaptation of Gotham city. I was totally in it. As a massive Batman fan, I've said for a long time that there should be a Batman film that focuses on the detective side of the character - and that is truly what this does. The production design is faultless, from the batsuit to the Iceberg lounge, from the batcave to the video recording contact lenses (which in my opinion should have clouded Battinson's eyes finally giving us a comic accurate look). The tone was so perfect that I could almost taste the grit and the cinematography was inspiring. Paul Dano's Riddler was captivating, even if he did take a cue from Ledger's joker in some self-taped media posts. On paper this movie is the greatest Batman flick ever projected in a cinema - so, why did I leave so disappointed?
I've never felt as uncomfortable about a movie than I do about this one. I really enjoyed so many aspects of it, yet I still found myself thinking, 'God, this is slow.' I feel like Bruce, stood shirtless, surrounded by all the evidence but unable to solve the riddle. When I dissect it there's so many things that I love about it - the visual style, the believability of the world and the machinations of its inhabitants.
So, I asked myself again what didn't work for me? Well, I think for all the promise old R-Pats delivered in those opening scenes where he grabbed me and dragged me in, he ultimately gave a one note performance that left me clock watching. Apart from a glint of emotion/rage when he injects himself with what I assume is a sample of Bane's steroid of choice - venom, or as he races back to Wayne towers towards the underutilised Andy Serkis. Which is a common theme here - underutilisation. The Batman is littered with stella actors, such as Peter Sarsgaad, Jayme Lawson, Alex Ferns and Colin Farrel (almost unrecognisable), who aren't given enough screen time. For a film that's just shy of 3 hours this is a bit of a disappointment. But, in the end it's the pacing for me. It's the monotonous way it drags its feet through an unnecessary subplot like a mardy teenager. How it starts a superfluous (extra 30 minutes) city-wide disaster just as the story is coming to a natural close. All in all, I think it was too long to burn so slow. I personally feel it could have lost half an hour (and a subplot) and felt fuller if some of the characters had been allowed to interact a little more. I understand that we are experiencing the story solely from Bruce's point of view, but it didn't create enough diversity of emotion for me. I thought it was quite flat. In my opinion it needed to ebb and flow a little better instead of playing at one level continuously.
But, having said that, I do think that the future is bright for this new franchise. Matt Reaves has established a strong foundation that clearly takes inspiration from and pays homage to the source material. Pattinson looks the part as Batman and hopefully he'll grow into the role and find some more emotions as time goes on. I'm looking forward to a sequel that takes all the things that I loved about this film and brings them together in a way that excites me. I want the equation to balance.
Overall rating: 6/10
What do you think? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree with me? Let's discuss.