The first reviews are in for The Batman, and critics have lavished praise on director Matt Reeves' vision. New Bat-suit incumbent Robert Pattinson also comes in for his fair share of the critical glory, starring in a movie that pits his vengeful Dark Knight against the anarchistic, live-streaming Riddler (Paul Dano).
Reeves' iteration of the Caped Crusader is the latest in a storied and richly varied franchise that has include takes from Tim Burton and, more recently, Christopher Nolan. Zoe Kravitz stars as Catwoman, Colin Farrell is The Penguin, Jeffrey Wright is Jim Gordon and Andy Serkis is Alfred in this stylishly designed blockbuster, which boasts cinematography from Dune's Grieg Fraser and a broiling score from Michael Giacchino.
Scroll down to check out some of the reactions, which should get you suitably amped for the movie's arrival this Friday (4th March).
"Registers among the best of the genre, even if — or more aptly, because — what makes the film so great is its willingness to dismantle and interrogate the very concept of superheroes," writes Peter Debruge for Variety. "In ways far more unsettling than most audiences might expect, The Batman channels the fears and frustrations of our current political climate, presenting a meaty, full-course crime saga that blends elements of the classic gangster film with cutting-edge commentary about challenges facing the modern world. It’s a hugely ambitious undertaking and one that’s strong enough to work even without Batman’s presence, not that it would have any reason to exist without him."
"Stretching to nearly three hours, this sombre picture wrestles with weighty themes and operatic emotions, occasionally faltering but always aspiring to a grandeur few of its superhero-cinema," writes Tim Grierson for Screen International. "The periodic narrative lapses never fully derail such a bold, bleak vision of a solitary crime-fighter overwhelmed by his demons and the forces of evil surrounding him. There will be those who wonder why we need another Batman film. The Batman persuasively makes the case for our continued fascination with The Caped Crusader."
"Led with magnetic intensity and a granite jawline by Robert Pattinson as a Dark Knight with daddy issues, this ambitious reboot is grounded in a contemporary reality where institutional and political distrust breeds unhinged vigilantism," enthuses David Rooney for The Hollywood Reporter. "Reeves delivers a lot of movie. Does it stretch the definition of escapism to immerse ourselves in a fiction so reflective of the toxic cynicism that pervades our 21st-century reality? Perhaps. But this glowering study in crime and punishment is meticulously crafted, vividly inhabited storytelling with a coherent, thought-through vision, and that makes for muscular entertainment."
Writes Leah Greenblatt for Entertainment Weekly: "[Zoe Kravitz] is feline and fiercely lovely, a girl with her own private pain and motivations; [Paul Dano] feints and giggles, a simpering loon. (In a world where Heath Ledger's Joker still exists on celluloid, alas, pretty much every kind of pulp villainy that follows is bound to feel like pale imitation.) But it falls on Pattinson's leather-cased Batman to be the hero we need, or deserve. With his doleful kohl-smudged eyes and trapezoidal jawline, he's more like a tragic prince from Shakespeare; a lost soul bent like a bat out of hell on saving everyone but himself."
Needless to say, not everyone is convinced by the movie, including TIME's Stephanie Zacharek. "The Batman is a moderately well-made film, with some appealing performances, most notably from its star, Robert Pattinson, and from its cryptically glamorous Catwoman, Zoë Kravitz... it’s pleasurably cinematic, a picture that creeps to the edges of the big screen with an operatic flourish... The Batman emerges from a movie universe, now becoming ubiquitous, where a phony funereal worldview is the only thing that can confer depth."
"A more unsmiling, clenched Batman you couldn’t imagine," laments Phil de Semylen for Time Out. "Did Prince really soundtrack this guy? Where did that funky Bruce Wayne go? And Pattinson? He’s solid enough, but the role seems to neutralise his greatest strengths, stifling his edgy, eccentric charisma under a morose, dutiful shell. He’s just another ever-searching crusader in a shadowy world. Hopefully next time he’ll be able to find the fun."
You'll soon be able to make your own mind up. Click here to book your tickets for The Batman, arriving in Cineworld on 4th March.