The Batman (15)
Directed by Matt Reeves
Starring Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Andy Serkis and Paul Dano
In cinemas
Running time: 176 mins

Of course, Robert Pattinson isn’t The Batman. He couldn’t be The Batman any more than he could be The Hamlet or The Dracula.

After six big-screen Dark Knights in just over three decades, being definitive is not an option. He is though A Batman, and a rather good one. For a start, he’s got the jawline for it and, of all of them, he is the one who seems least reliant on the Batsuit to do the work for him.

This film was originally intended to be a solo vehicle for Ben Affleck’s old man Batman before being repositioned as a young Batman, all moody, adolescent and gothic.

With a few early digressions, the aim of each new Batman incarnation has been to prove that they are darker and meaner than previous ones.

Here we have arrived at one that is basically Se7en remade as a superhero film with the Riddler taking the role of Kevin Spacey as a serial killer.

Objectively it’s all a bit much. The colour scheme is shades of black with the odd splash of red. Gotham is a rainy city with Blade Runner levels of precipitation. No Joker this time, but every other villain is here.

There’s a Catwoman (Kravitz) and a genuinely unrecognisable Colin Farrell as the Penguin. He’s buried under so much prosthetic that he looks like De Niro’s Al Capone from The Untouchables, but done in the style of John Cazale’s Fredo in the Godfather.

And after all that effort, his Oswald Cobblepot is a peripheral figure.

This is a very streamlined three hours, with lots of elements pushed to the side. Serkis’ Alfred, the Batcave and even alter ego Bruce Wayne don’t feature much. Previously, the villains have taken centre stage, with the Bat lurking in the shadows. Here Pattinson and Jeffrey Wright’s Gordon are the core of the film, like Pitt and Freeman trying to track down an unseen killer.

Although Reeves’ film seems to have marked out a distinctive stylised identity for itself, you’d be surprised how often it seems to be following the Nolan realistic blueprint.

It isn’t offering up anything revolutionary or original but it is old ground gone over very well. Somewhere along the way, western culture has become fixated with this tormented figure and his world and Reeves’ version will satisfy the craving to see it all play out again.

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