DRAMA; 2hr 56min
STARRING: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell
If Bruce Wayne/Batman were an actual human he’d be turning 83 in 2022 and worn to a frazzle from the hoops he has smashed through. Even with peak physicality, a righteous outrage that refuses to quit and the depthless pockets that cushion his crusades, Bruce/Bat’s life is a lot. Since his DC Comics debut in 1939, the big man has done time in TV, Lego, animation, video games and a slew of movies with a roster of stars sharing the rot-struck spotlight (Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, George Clooney, Ben Affleck…). Oof.
Now here comes Robert Pattinson in Cloverfield director Matt Reeves’s dystopian wodge of a movie, rocking a doomsday vibe and an inky dye job with the muscle suit that stops traffic. This B/B is no Chatty Cathy in or out of the suit, but he needs to rustle up some team spirit ASAP: kicking off with the mayor of Gotham City, the reliably evil Riddler (Dano) is on a killing jag it’s impossible not to take seriously, despite the cheesy greeting cards he leaves at the scenes of his twisted work.
The Riddler’s beef is the city’s calcified corruption, and to be fair he has a caseload of that to work with, Gotham being grunge-encrusted to its bleakly industrial core. Even when Batman soars above it for a few thrilling instants, the city contrives to bring him crashing down. Meanwhile, his associates are a sliding scale of tricky (Kravitz as Selena Kyle/Catwoman), ambiguous (John Turturro as Carmine Falcone) and batshit crazy, no pun intended. Small wonder that B/B and detective Jim Gordon (Wright) would have to be two of the most joyless investigators of all time, which isn’t to say they can’t get a wriggle on — a car chase some 90 minutes in between the Bat and the Penguin (Farrell) is a speed freak’s wet dream and a brief respite from the visceral gloom.
Having served time in the Twilight series, Pattinson is no stranger to big pictures, sinking his teeth into terminal misery with a lifer’s grim resolve. Flayed by tragedy, plagued by depravity, his tormented vigilante is an exile in a prison of his own making: a seeker on whom an illuminating sun will never shine.