‘The Batman’ ups superhero game

The Batman

The character of Batman is a win-win proposition. There’s never been a Batman film (or television show) about the Caped Crusader that’s laid a bat bomb.

The title is also a clue to how the director wants this incarnation of the Night Avenger be perceived.

The initial success of “The Batman” will revolve around an audience wanting to embrace the Cowled One and those that want to welcome helmer Matt Reeves to the major director’s league. It’s like a superhero league only its composed of directors whose output is singular and lasting.

Reeves has a distinctive way of filming driving point-of-views, which in their origin are tracking shots albeit for a motorized vehicle rather than a dolly.

Reeves previously took the audience on a one way ride from the back seat of a car in his 2010 “Let Me In,” itself a worthy remake of a classic modern vampire film from Sweden. In one particular scene the Blue Oyster Cult play on a car radio while a youth is attacked by The Father (a loose version of Renfield from “Dracula”). The song is “Burnin’ For You,” which is fair game since “Don’t Fear the Reaper” is off the table after Carpenter used it in “Halloween.”

The scene occurs outside a convenience store and there are multiple edits that establish the kid in the front seat discovering the figure (The Father) in the back seat and succumbing to his attack.

Then the kicker is a one-take shot, point-of-view from the back seat, as The Father pulls out of the parking lot and drives backwards at a breakneck pace. The end result is a car crash still in the same camera shot.

Likewise in the most recent “Planet of the Apes” reboot Reeves amazes in one scene that depicts the point-of-view of an ape driving a tank while firing said tank’s machine gun.

Flash forward to “The Batman” and a concluding shot (not a spoiler) that holds as long as necessary and longer than any previous shot in the movie while we observe Bats from a low angle himself slung over the Batcycle at a reclining angle to the road, hauling ass away from a funeral. It’s a beautiful frame and a cool way to conclude a movie.

The Dark Knight

There are just a handful of films depicting a dystopian society that have the sheen, attitude, and bleached color schemes that come off as brilliant as “The Batman.” The Janusz Kaminski lensed “Minority Report” comes to mind. That film was drenched in slivery metallic hues whereas “The Batman,” photographed by Greig Fraser who also shot “Dune,” looks like it was filmed through the filter of a city suffocating in rain and smog.

There’s the bat, and the cat, and the penguin and the riddler. “The Batman” has it all. There hasn’t been a line-up like this since the campy 1966 “Batman: The Movie.”

The title of the film also exposes this superhero’s Achilles heel. You see Batman isn’t as smart as he thinks. A clue left by The Riddler seems to be in Spanish.

In English the article the remains the same whether it’s before a masculine or feminine noun. In Spanish it changes from el to la depending on the last letter of the noun. Batman has to have this mansplained to him by The Penguin.

(On a side note, Colin Farrell is unrecognizable as Oswald Cobblepot. The layers of make-up are so thick yet subtle he could easily pass for one of the characters in the 1990 “Dick Tracy.”)

Bruce Wayne’s secret identity as Batman also comes under scrutiny. When confronted by his feminine double, Selena Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman he lets his guard down.

The first two hours of “The Batman” are pure adrenaline energy in a linear fashion. It’s in the last hour where ambiguity creeps into the storyline in such a manner as to make the whole experience a rousing cinematic spectacle.


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