THE BATMAN (2022) is a movie where my expectations lowered as it got closer to opening night. However, unlike most people, lowering my expectations means exactly that and nothing more. I didn't expect The Batman to be great. But that doesn't mean that I liked it just because I had low expectations. I don't give passes to awfulness or mediocrity, but ESPECIALLY when it's a high budget, hyped film like The Batman with a pretty reputable director and cast. While this troupe of actors isn't exactly Godfather caliber, they are nothing to sneeze at either. Robert Pattinson has gained a lot of traction over the years slowly removing himself of the universally panned Twilight movies. And in particular John Turturro, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, and Paul Dano are very well respected in the film industry. Even Andy Serkis is highly regarded for his physical and voice acting in the 2010s Ape movies. Zoe Kravitz is really the only questionable casting. But from this overall reputable cast, I thought that the acting was good at best. Save for Paul Dano as The Riddler, none of the performances really stood out as anything more than serviceable.
To the elephant in the room, how was Pattinson as Batman? I dare say that Pattinson low-key reverted to his Twilight days of being overly broody, moody, and staring too much in this film. The dialogue did the actors no favors, either. It was very bland and lacked genuine humor or wit. Also very weirdly, Pattinson was way more verbose as Batman than he was as Bruce, who did a lot of that awkward staring at people in the scenes where Bruce was featured, which were few and far in between. And when he would stare as Batman, I just didn't feel a sense of fear or danger coming from him. I felt like you could put any actor of decent physical stature in this costume and he would just as intimidating as Pattinson, which isn't saying much. Pattinson's "acting" was just a bunch of staring and scowling at people throughout the movie. He was too stiff and emotionless like a statue. As for his character development, there really wasn't any. He just brooded and moped through most of the film then at the end flipped a switch and realized that his true goal was helping people instead of getting revenge. Saving the subway mugging victim wasn't helping? Playing detective with Gordon wasn't helping? Saving Selina from herself wasn't helping? He's been playing vigilante crime fighter for 2 years and putting criminals behind bars. How is that not helping people?
Next, to Zoe Kravitz. From what I've seen of her in a few other things, including the Divergent franchise she's really not much of an actress. And this film did nothing to change my mind. She was OK as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, but nothing special. In fact, I feel like Selina's entire arc was awkwardly shoehorned into the movie and could not have even existed. Why was I supposed to care about Selina and this Russian girl? They had barely one scene of Batman scoping their apartment as they apparently argued then a few scenes later her dead body is in a trunk and I felt nothing. Then there was the cliche and uninspired reveal that Selina was Falcone's daughter. I just blankly stared at the screen when she revealed that information. And in the climactic scene where she went to kill Falcone, she was useless. Then the writers made up for it by having her randomly be there to save Batman in the climax. Never mind how someone as small as her could have the strength to pull up a man twice her size. Also, I must be the only one on the planet who thought her mask looked silly and her pixie hairdo was awful. And Kravitz is extremely good-looking, so why the bad haircut? But mainly, Kravitz and Pattinson had zero chemistry. I felt nothing from their various interactions. This film didn't need her character nor this "love story" at all.
As for the remaining cast, the various actors Turturro (as Falcone) Wright (as Lt. Gordon), Dano (as Riddler), Farrell (as Penguin), and Serkis (as Alfred) did their best with an odd script. As mentioned before Dano was able to somehow generate a performance approaching greatness from the limited script. I actually expected Farrell to be the standout, but his performance was reduced to him just being physically unrecognizable and sporting a different voice. But Penguin as a character was just kind of there like everyone else. With the possible exception of Gordon, all other iterations of these characters have been done better. I have more of a problem with very minor roles in this movie, just a bunch of bland, interchangeable characters who could have been played by any actor, like the D. A., the lady Mayor, twin bouncers at the club, the uniformed cop who called Batman a freak. None of these people felt believable or unique to me nor left any kind of impression. None of the conversations and character interactions in this film had any kind of emotion, staying power, or re-watchability. It was just characters exchanging stiff dialogue in the blandest possible way.
A big problem with this movie is it's running time. It's almost 3 hours long and feels every second of it. Stuff just happens. The movie jumps from scene to scene in a random fashion. Scenes are stretched out due to a bunch of awkward silence and staring and Batman SLOWLY walking around. The main plot, which is based on the Riddler's riddles, is very thin. Somehow, Batman is able to solve every riddle within seconds just to move the plot forward. And at times they don't make sense. Selina would always just randomly show up at the spot where Batman and Gordon were investigating. Then there's the music. The now iconic score just plays endlessly in the background throughout the entire film, many times feeling unearned. I really found the humor to be strained in this film. It wasn't cringe so much as forced. The writers tried to be more nuanced and subtle with the humor, but it just didn't land for me. There were a couple of mild chuckles, but that's about it. Then there's the agenda-riddled dialogue like when Catwoman said the "white privilege" line. I could feel and hear the collective groans in my movie theatre when she said that line. I don't know why Hollywood is so hellbent on inserting cringe stuff like this in virtually every major film nowadays.
Also there's the plotholes and inconsistencies. Why is Oswald even called The Penguin in this? He's not supposed to inherit that nickname until much later when he becomes a big crime boss. Why did "Penguin" run away from Batman, resulting in that car chase? Batman isn't a cop and has no right to arrest him? Penguin is protected by Falcone, who owns the police force and the D. A. He could have just given himself up to Gordon and then Falcone would have quickly got him off the charges. Why was the Russian girl's body in the trunk and not disposed of immediately? Speaking of the car chase, it felt like it was shoehorned in just to have a cool scene that was a callback to the one in Batman Returns (the best Batman film ever, btw), except in that movie the Batmobile was under Penguin's control. What was Penguin going to do, leave town? It would have made more sense for him to just let Gordon arrest him and ignore Batman completely since he's not a cop and has no authority or jurisdiction. Why didn't Batman or Gordon care about all the lives that were lost in that highway explosion that they were partially responsible for? They acted like none of that happened and just kept interrogating Penguin and moved on. What's the purpose of Batman helping the police solve crimes and saving people from subway attacks, then turn around and cause highway explosions causing collateral damage? Penguin is a protected mobster who can get away with anything. So what if Gordon arrests him? He'll be out that same night. Why did Riddler just give himself up? Are these writers telling me they wrote this LONG detective story based on a villain who was just going to turn himself in at the climax? So what was the purpose of even telling the story? That means that Batman and Gordon and all their detective work were useless and a waste of time. Then to top it off, Riddler stupidly tells Batman about his big evil plan using his followers. If Riddler doesn't give himself up and says nothing, he wins.
The positives are the cinematography, atmosphere and action scenes, thus why this film can at least be called mediocre. The look of Gotham is neo-noirish enough to give a comic book feel and the constant raining and dreariness immerses you into the world. The action scenes are cool, but I swear that the 75% of them were in the trailers, so when I saw them in the movie, it was literal deja vu. The subway beatdown, the club shootout, the car chase...all given away in the trailer. This movie felt more like a super long, rambling, meaningless detective story with a bunch of random characters cosplaying the iconic hero and villains rather than feeling like lived in versions. Interestingly, this director Matt Reeves directed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the first sequel to the far superior Rise of the Planet of the Apes, directed by someone else. So it's not surprising that because so many people overrate Dawn and think it's better than Rise, I'm also seeing a lot of people already overrate The Batman as one of the best Batman movies. Reeves has a tone that appears to appeal to a lot of people, but not this moviegoer. Since it's already a given there will be 2 sequels to The Batman...better luck next time.