The Batman


Viewed – 30 April online rental

This long running franchise has always been one of my favourite series of movies, and the character remains probably my go-to comic book hero. So when I heard they were rebooting the franchise once again, I was curious / nervous where they could possibly take this character. Turns out director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, War for the Planet of the Apes) was an assured choice for this new era. Twilight’s Robert Pattinson takes on the role of Bruce Wayne / Batman who we hear has already been at the caped vigilante ‘game’ for over a year. A series of murders of political figures have started occurring in Gotham City. The killer, calling himself The Ridler leaves cryptic clues for the police and especially Batman to follow in a race against time as the bodies pile up. Embroiled in proceedings is small-time burglar Selena Kyle / Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), as well as local mobster The Penguin.

Reeves’ direction is suitably moody and highly atmospheric. I especially liked how he brought back Gotham as an eerie character in itself, something Tim Burton presented so well back in the day but Christopher Nolan mostly did away with in place of realism. This rendition of Batman successfully marries both the Gothic fantasy of Burton whilst retaining some of the grit of Nolan … and it works. Wayne / Batman is this time portrayed very much as a human being, capable of injury and mistakes and letting his emotions get the better of him. In this respect Pattinson is excellent – delivering a complex, damaged portrayal whilst still looking an absolute badass in the costume. I’d have like a bit more of him as Bruce Wayne though. Another surprise was Zoe Kravitz, an actress I only know as being the daughter of rocker Lennie Kravitz, but her portrayal is possibly the most complex and interesting version of Catwoman for years. Support from Jeffrey Wright as (inevitably) Commissioner Gordon and John Turturro as mob boss Falcone both bring plenty of personality also. A barely recognisable Colin Farrell is also decent as Penguin even if his character is kind of a side note. That just leaves The Ridler then, and with this role Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) is chilling and malevolent – even if he’s no Heath Ledger (although his grand-scheme bares similarities).

I had a great time with this. It was a bit long, and may have benefited from some scenes being trimmed down, but I can’t say I ever got bored. Pattinson turned out to be a great choice and I am eager to see what more he can do with the character. The story was gripping, with an intricate plot that bared resemblance to the Zodiac murders whilst also echoing the Saw movies. This was also different enough to stand on its own yet retains enough of the mood and aesthetic to still very much be a Batman movie. What more could you ask for?

Verdict: Recommended

Broken Flowers


Viewed – 06 April 2014  Netflix 

Bill Murray for me is one of those comedy actors I sometimes am not sure if I find funny.  Back in the 80s yes he had some interesting movies (most notably Ghostbusters) and is a fairly likeable actor … but funny?  His style of dry, understated humour goes a little over my head.  Here he stars as a world-weary business man who receives an anonymous letter in the post one day from an old girlfriend, telling him he has a nineteen year old son who may or may not be trying to track him down.  With the help of wannabe private eye next door neighbour Jeffrey Wright, he embarks on a journey to track down various old flames in the hope of discovering who wrote the letter.

broken-flowers

Directed with a gentle, whimsical style by Jim Jarmusch (Ghost Dog, Dead Man) and with a quiet but enjoyable turn by Murray I found this involving and enjoyed the various encounters and characters that crop up, including a trailer-trash Sharon Stone and a hippy-new age Jessica Lang.  The story itself was fascinating and certainly got me thinking of the various people we might affect in our lives without knowing.  Think of a cross between High Fidelity and Lost In Translation, even if this movie remains in both their shadows.

That being said it is also a story that like the main character, might leave you perplexed, chasing dead ends and not getting anywhere.  It was also in need of some larger than life situations and sharper dialogue (although Jeffrey Wright steals the show).  I was left with the impression this was meant to be a movie you just relax and take in, which I suppose makes for perfect Sunday afternoon viewing.

Verdict:  3 /5