I thought it was good. Reeves did a great job setting up his vision of Gotham. I really liked the intro where we see criminals being frightened by just the bat-signal. It was a cool Batman trope, but you also are given the distinct impression of the economic/social disparity that exists in this version of Gotham. You see that a lot of this crime is perpetrated because of this disparity. What this scene really signals is, in essence, Batman has become part of the police state within Gotham. He’s not really solving Gotham’s problems so much as he’s become another blunt instrument to punish those who step out of line. This was really well done and stayed consistent throughout the movie.
I also really thought the Batman/Riddler dynamic was the true strength to this film. We have a Bruce Wayne who is so driven by his own pain and anger that he becomes “vengeance” as Batman to vent that frustration. He comes up against The Riddler who is so driven by his own pain and anger that he becomes “vengeance” by murdering the corrupt elite. This makes Riddler a true black mirror for Bruce and makes him realize that point I made above that he is really not helping solve much of anything.
There was also a lot of good plot building where I could logically surmise things without having to be told. For instance, I knew Falcone killed Selina’s mother before it was said out loud because, in the scene where Selina plays Annika’s phone recording, Gordon makes the point to say that Falcone is strangling her. And how did Selina’s mother die? I also knew how Riddler got onto the Gotham conspiracy when I heard that he was a forensic accountant. It’s good when your plot points have strong backing like that.
All that being said, it wasn’t perfect by any stretch. This film had tonal imbalances that made me hesitant to buy-in all the way. When it started, the tone had this grim, realistic vibe much like Nolan’s films or serial killer movies. As the story went on, there were many elements that undercut this completely. The first was Colin Farrell’s performance as Penguin. I’m sorry, I know that it’s popular but it was too over-the-top for the initial tone of this movie. It felt like he was doing a Robert De Niro in Goodfellas impersonation the whole time and it took me out of things. The killer for me was the third act of the movie where Riddler floods Gotham and has sent social media henchmen out to commit violence. This completely undercut the first two-thirds of the serial killer picture they were making. It was like I was watching Seven and then it suddenly turned into Batman Returns at the very end. I love both movies, but they are very different.
I was a little let down that the whole serial killer/conspiracy in Gotham angle didn’t have anything juicier at the end of it. I knew who “the rat” in the movie was as soon as they started talking about them. Of course it was Falcone. Anyone who has read Year One or Long Halloween should have seen that coming. It makes sense in movie and in Batman lore, but it wasn’t the juicy twist I was hoping for out of a serial killer plot.
There were other minor things that I wasn’t sold on.
I had a hard time buying into the Batman/Selina romance because it seemed to come out of nowhere. It was easy to let pass because Pattinson and Kravitz had chemistry and it is the Bat and the Cat. However, there wasn’t sufficient build to it in the movie, so I said to myself: “Alright, I guess they’re just into each other now…” I’m also not sure why they threw dirt on the Waynes only to have Alfred completely undercut said dirt a couple scenes later. If you were going to do it, why not run with it? This is not a deal breaker, but I also didn’t like them changing Martha’s maiden name to Arkham… I mean, it’s Kane. C’mon…
Overall it was solid. I liked the visuals and soundtrack. I definitely bought into Pattinson’s Batman. The themes and message of this movie were solid. But, the tonal imbalance really threw me and I don’t think this movie needed almost 3 hours to say what it needed to say. It gets a B from Moth.