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‘Duh’ The Batman Is A Crashing Bore Of A Film
Rating: ** ½
There is a depressing dinginess in the air in The Batman, the DC franchise now clearly gasping for breath in the bid for survival. Although Duh, sorry, The Batman is played by a brand new entrant, Robert Pattison adds nothing except more gloom to the sense of doom that pervades the 3-hour long slog of a film with not a single moment of sunshine.
And I do mean that literally. The Batman is shot entirely in the night or a night-like darkness . Cinematographer Greig Fraser’s credits include that Dev Patel adoptive drama Lion and the recent futuristic Dune. The latter in fact was shot in the sam e environment of irredeemable bleakness as The Batman.
Perhaps the DOP is by now as depressed as we are after the pandemic. A grandly designed inky epic like The Batman makes it worse. It starts with a startling montage of someone filming a father-son banter moment through a gothic window. We hear the heavy breathing of the videographer before he attacks the Mayor of Gotham City and cuts him as badly as , say, Matt Dillon in The House That Jack Built. Well maybe not that viciously. But you get the picture?
From the start it is clear to every member of the audience that the Batman franchise is this time peddling a serial-killer plot, and a pretty tame one at that. There are lots of twists and turns in the storytelling but they don’t get us anywhere we want to be. In the quest to put Batman in the dock, his father’s noble past is tarnished before the rites of redemption kick in belatedly.
Nothing is well-timed in The Batman. Not the first kiss between Batman and Catwoman , the latter played by Zoe Kravitz.Easily the worst Catwoman in the history of the Franchise, Kravitz does her droopy-eyed disdainful look each time everything else fails, which is most of the time. She has zero chemistry with ‘Batman’ Robert Pattinson which explains why they hardly have intimate moments together and in the end they go their separate ways: literally at a road-fork on two bikes, one left, one right.
Spoonfeeding is the prime passion in The Batman. Everything is spelt out. It is not enough to say Batman is a on a sticky wicket this time. It must also be shown. This Batman seldom flies. Once when he tries, he crashes into a hard place and falls. The audience burst into laughter at this point.Come on guys, show some respect!
Staying serious through this dark dreary drama of the damned and doomed is not easy. Gotham City is not just imagined as ravaged, it is shown to be in a pitiable shambles, rubble everywhere, the store signs paled , the Gotham celebrities pallid with fear as the serial killer naming himself ‘Riddler’(why Riddler? Because after every killing he send Duh Batman a riddle, silly!) targets the who’s who of the City.
Some of the victims , like the super-accomplished Peter Sarsgaard who plays the seedy district attorney, and an absolutely unrecognizable Colin Farrell as a petty gangster named Penguin, add some shred of a fun element to the ponderous plot. But not even Woody Allen(were he to be brought in for additional effervescence in the turgid cat-and-bat tale) could salvage the dreadful deluge of sogginess and dampness that grip the narrative, quite literally in the climax when all of Gotham City is flooded.
Bruce/Batman must find out if his father is really as corrupt as suggested by the villain Riddler(Paul Dano, playing a nerdy psychopath with nerdy naughtiness). Anyone who is a fan of this Franchise knows the answer to that. What we don’t know is why this inert instalment in the Batman franchise remains so dull and inured to a frozen state of being when it had every occasion to fly high.