‘Twilight’ star excels as another creature of the night in new movie
Robert Pattinson pulled it off.
The “Twilight” star, who might not seem like an obvious choice to play Batman, is better in the role than Christian Bates, who excelled in it, and definitely better than Val Kilmer or George Clooney, talented actors who were miscast. The part was right for Ben Affleck, but his approach was too intense for a hero who moves quietly in the shadows.
The only actor who has a better grasp of Batman than Mr. Pattinson is Michael Keaton, the star who surprised fans and critics with his great interpretation of the Dark Knight in the 1989 “Batman” movie, still the best of all of them.
The new film, titled simply “The Batman,” easily topped the North America box office with a $128 million gross in its opening weekend.
This “Batman” is a dark story. But director Matt Reeves and Mr. Pattinson allow rays of hope to shine in a story in which Batman evolves into a true hero.
Not that there aren’t missteps. Mr. Reeves’ and actor Paul Dano’s interpretation of the Riddler makes the beloved villain too creepy.
But overall, “The Batman” succeeds because of a strong mystery, Mr. Pattinson’s portrayal of the Dark Knight and Mr. Reeves’ uncanny direction. Watching “The Batman” is like watching the creative intentions of “Batman” creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger unfold on the big screen.
Wisely, Mr. Reeves and fellow writer Peter Craig decided against a straightforward origin story. Been there, done that. Instead, “The Batman” refers to the hero’s origin when it pertains to this new story.
Batman has been instilling fear into the hearts of criminals and doing his best to keep Gotham City safe for two years. Police Lt. James Gordon (played brilliantly by Jeremy Wright) teams up with him despite the police department’s objections to the costumed vigilante.
When Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. (Rupert Penry-Jones) is killed in his home, riddles are left for the Batman, and the Riddler is clearly the murderer. More victims are killed, and the mystery is why the Riddler feels he must kill them to make a point. A point about what? There’s a bigger issue on the Riddler’s agenda, and it will take all of Batman’s detective skills to figure it out.
Along the way, Batman meets the Penguin, played convincingly by Colin Farrell but sadly without the character’s usual colorful traits. (The best portrayal of the Penguin remains the one by Burgess Meredith in the campy but fun “Batman” TV series in the 1960s.)
A villain worthy of Batman is found in Carmine Falcone (played incredibly well by John Turtorro).
As Batman investigates the murders and tries to prevent the Riddler from killing again, he meets Catwoman, played by the talented Zoë Kravitz. Traditionally there’s an attraction between Batman and Catwoman, and that’s shown here with the great chemistry between Ms. Kravitz and Mr. Pattinson.
On top of all that, Andy Serkis, who’s consistently the master of characters, excels as Alfred, and “The Batman” explores the dynamics of Alfred’s relationship with Bruce Wayne.
The best aspect of “The Batman” is seeing Batman/Bruce grow. He begins the story by pursuing criminals and ends it with saving lives.
In recent decades, DC Comics/Warner Bros. superhero movies have fallen short of their counterparts from Marvel Studios. But with “The Batman,” DC Comics shows it can tell a great story, and the movie approaches the bar set by the “Wonder Woman” films starring Gal Gadot. There’s more DC movies ahead with “Flash” (set for a Nov. 4 release) and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” (set for Dec. 16).
With Marvel releasing “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” on May 6, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” on Nov. 11 and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” still soaring in theaters, it’s a great year for comic book fans.