Most recently, Ben Affleck was a so-so Batman but an excellent Bruce Wayne. I had never cared much for Wayne as a character in any instances prior to Affleck. He brought nuance and pathos to the oft-overlooked Wayne.
In “The Batman,” Robert Pattinson brings similar emotion to Batman but falls flat as Wayne.
Director Matt Reeves sets “The Batman” during a time when the titular character is not quite a household name. Evildoers are just as likely to laugh at “some guy in a bat costume” as they are to run away. The Penguin (Colin Farrell) and other crime lords have the run of the city until the Riddler (Paul Dano) shows up and starts killing high-profile targets connected to a ring of corruption.
Batman hews the closest to his original Detective Comics counterpart that we have seen yet. He teams up with Lt. Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to do some serious sleuthing. While in the bat-suit, Pattinson imbues a genuine care for the city and its people, both upper and lower crust. When he is Bruce Wayne, it does not seem like he cares about anything.
Thankfully, Reeves knows Batman is the strength of the film. The scenes between Batman and Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz) work well, and the back-and-forths between Batman and Gordon really sell their friendship.
Dano is a weak spot as the Riddler. The character starts out frightening when masked and larger-than-life. However, once Dano fully inhabits him, the Riddler becomes mostly just a joke.
There are a few hints about where Reeves may take the character next, although it is still unknown whether he will connect his Batman to the greater DC Universe. DC frequently employs the multiverse in its comics. Maybe they will see the success of multiple Spider-men onscreen over at Marvel and follow suit. Bring on the Batman Who Laughs. B
‘The Long Walk’
“Time traveling ghost story set in the future” is a tag I have never before given to a film. Yet, it is an apt description of Laotian director Mattie Do’s “The Long Walk.”
With her third feature, Do tells the story of an Old Man who helps the dying ease their pain. But is that all he’s doing? Do takes her time unraveling the true nature of the Old Man’s efforts.
She spends some time with flashbacks telling the story of a Boy who lived in the same house as the Old Man. The Boy must walk down a dirt path to help his mother with her roadside stand. On his walks, he frequently encounters a silent Woman. Scared of her at first, he eventually befriends her.
In present day, the Old Man also walks with the Woman – who turns out to be a ghost. The ghost Woman can somehow bridge the two time periods, allowing the Old Man to interact with the Boy. The past starts to bleed into the present in creative and often frightening ways.
Did I mention this is all set in the future? On first glance, the village’s edifices look to be from the Laos of today or even decades ago. However, once the Old Man checks the time by looking at a display on the inside of his forearm, we realize it is quite far into the future. A young shopkeeper even mocks the man’s model for being antiquated.
Do is unique in that she is not just the only director making horror movies in Laos, but she is also the only female director in the country. I have been impressed lately by the horror films coming out of Indonesia, Malaysia and other South Asian countries. I look forward to what else Do and, I hope, other Laotian directors put out next. A-
“The Night Caller.” (AMC+) 1960’s Perth, Australia, was as innocuous and simple as it gets … until a bizarre string of murders turned everything upside down. Modern-day interviews with dozens of survivors are wrapped around some often scary reenactments.
“War of the Worlds.” (EPIX) Season 1 was a great distraction during the 2020 shutdown. Season 2 came out a year ago, and I’m glad I’m finally getting around to watching it. The action and intensity ramp up, scattering our survivors even further as the more-human-than-human aliens close in.
Jeff Mellinger is a screen writer and film buff. He holds a BA in Film Studies and an MFA in film production. He lives in Concord.