We will have had time to fantasize the new adventures of the Dark Knight named Batman ! Launched in 2017 after the cancellation of Ben Affleck’s film, The Batman has never ceased to tickle the curiosity of the whole world with its biases. From directing Matt Reeves ( Cloverfield , Planet of the Apes: Supremacy ) to casting Robert Pattinson , Zoë Kravitz , Paul Dano , Colin Farrell and Jeffrey Wright , this reincarnation of the DC icon had it all. on the level of The Dark Knight by Christopher Nolan. Were we right to hope? Spoiler-free review.
BLACK IS BLACK
A street in the dark. From this simple image, The Batman lets us glimpse something special: a return to the primary fear of the dark, and the demons that we imagine emerging from it.The Dark Knight of Gotham is a horror movie boogeyman , who sculpts darkness the better to haunt the streets of his hometown.
Somewhere between the contemporary realism of Nolan and the retro-futurism dear to Bruce Timm, the textures make this eternal Sodom and Gomorrah vibrate, whose incarnation matches the harsh violence of its vigilante. As if regurgitated by this hell that has taken everything from him, Batman is only the sickly excrescence of Gotham , indeed is he Gotham, so much does he melt into its torrents of shadow.
It’s probably no coincidence that the film’s first genius idea is to call on cinematographer Greig Fraser ( Bright Star , Rogue One , Dune ), who has become Hollywood’s expert in dealing with darkness and chiaroscuro.Abyss also looks into you”.
This is the fascinating question that The Batman decides to address through its superhero, more tortured than ever, always on the verge of crossing the other side of his moral barrier.
Despite the clever trap of its first paranoid plan, drawing on Secret Conversation to introduce its New Hollywood referents, the feature film dodges the origin story to better speak of a Batman at the start of activity. Far from the mastery expected of an alter-ego supposed to symbolize the overcoming of his original trauma, Bruce Wayne is a prisoner of his past, seeking meaning in his life less through altruism than through revenge. This term, which becomes a refrain as the adventure progresses, alone marks the bubbling of a Gotham on the verge of implosion .
If the whole takes the form of a real investigation film centered on its few main characters (and which finally replaces Batman as “the best detective in the world”), it never forgets the mythological force, and therefore allegorical of its icons. Faced with a scenario that gradually reveals the ambiguous legacy of the Wayne family, the torments of the batman become the metonymy of an entire people and its pessimism.
TO SUPERHEROIC NIRVANA
On the other hand, The Batman had warned us from its first and masterful trailer. By using the song Something In The Way by Nirvana as a grunge standard (which we also find in the final result), it’s a whole philosophy both rebellious and hopeless that pulls the work. This bratty spirit makes the choice of Robert Pattinson even more obvious, and imposes one of the most beautiful incarnations of the Caped Crusader . Perfect in the painting of an ultra-violent vigilante, the actor also plays brilliantly with the vulnerability inherent in his gaze, regularly accentuated by very nice close-ups.
The connection between Bruce Wayne and Kurt Cobain is so clear it makes you wonder why no one has exploited it before: the traumatized billionaire child isn’t looking to play playboy for cover. He is reclusive, like a rock star whose addiction is less to hard drugs than to nocturnal cavalcades in search of arms to break.
But the unstoppable logic of this approach would be nothing without the presence of Matt Reeves behind the camera. The director of the last opuses of The Planet of the Apes may never have had the right to the consideration of his friend JJ Abrams, but he knew how to draw strength from it.
Like an endangered species, the filmmaker has this humility of the craftsman concerned , whose requirement always adapts to the subjects he chooses. The Batman should finally establish the supremacy of an essential artist, especially at a time when the majority of blockbusters look like soulless algorithms or boxes of specifications checked anyhow.
Rather than limiting himself to a vacuum of superheroic references that have ended up becoming their own Baudrillardian simulacrum (hello Marvel…), Reeves deferentially exploits his cinephilic inspirations , from his homages to film noir to moose Fincherians, sublimated by this reincarnation of the Sphinx (Paul Dano, brilliantly sadistic) as a gambler Zodiac-style terrorist.
TOWARDS THE OTHER REEVES
In reality, The Batman is easily distinguished from the competition by its flawless thematic cohesion. Some would say that this dumbing down is representative of the overall quality of contemporary Hollywood cinema, and that doesn’t entirely excuse the film’s overzealousness (notably over its nearly three-hour runtime). However, from the rustic-looking costumes of David Crossman, Glyn Dillion and Jacqueline Durran to the already unmissable music of Michael Giacchino, everything is directed towards a clear and invigorating vision , which moves softly like the Catwoman. Hypnotic by Zoë Kravitz.
Of course, it is also on the casting side that the feature film confirms the brilliance of its approach. Andy Serkis brings a new charisma to Alfred, Colin Farrell magnifies the buffoonery of the Penguin, and Jeffrey Wright offers us nothing less than the best James Gordon of film adaptations, still as honest, but also more serious and dark than in the past.
By hooking his lens to the Bat-grappling hook or the cabin of the Batmobile, the filmmaker assumes the heaviness of his universe, the gravity of which a simple man Beyond offering action scenes that are both readable and impactful , this premise allows Batman to assert himself as the sponge that absorbs America’s questions and doubts.
Where The Dark Knight was a film that displayed unwavering faith in the people of Gotham, standing together in adversity in a post-9/11 context, The Batman finds, not without a devilishly nihilistic point of view, that the world has changed in ten years. Matt Reeves offers us a terminal work on the disillusionment with the system , which forces the superhero to fight some of the citizens he is sworn to protect.
Even if it was written years before, The Batman proves that the Dark Knight is a well of fantasies terribly pegged to the concerns of our world that he drags like a ball and chain.Of violence of which he remains the main driving force. The fascination of the abyss, once again.