James Parker’s review published on Letterboxd:
This might just be one of the most overblown and overhyped movies I've ever seen.
Let's get the good out of the way first. The cinematography was beautiful and quite immersive, Greig Fraser never disappoints. I loved the atmosphere of it all and the exceptionally epic score by Michael Giacchino. And Gotham really did feel like the crime-infested, and corruption-filled shit hole it's supposed to be.
These were the things I enjoyed, now unto the many things I didn't...
This movie is so overlong that you feel like it's never going to end at some point. I thought it was about to end for a few times and then another scene plays out. That just proves how badly composed and poorly plotted it is. The main problem with it is that it tries to please everyone and ends up being all over the place. The dark theme and psychological elements are probably influenced by Joker and its success, but they have no substance whatsoever. It's just a very artsy and pretentious take on the Batman character that looks very stylish and flashy without much substance, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. In fact, it uses familiarity as its one and only promise.
The story feels like a generic crime saga that has the Batman universe shoehorned into it. This movie is not a masterpiece, but it spends a lot of effort making you think it is!
The Choreography really didn't do it for me. I simply can't believe that that is the same character who's mastered 10 core martial arts and knows 127 other forms. His fighting style was way too generic and simple, I've had way more fun watching Jason Statham or John Wick fight, which shouldn't be the case. And it especially hurt to see him get knocked on his ass and dragged by his cape by a couple of two-bit thugs, just so that Selina can come to his rescue and use her superhuman force to pull him up from the ledge, a man twice her size.
How was Pattinson as Batman? I dare say that Pattinson low-key reverted to his Twilight days of being overly broody, moody, and staring too much in this film. The dialogue did the actors no favors, either. It was very bland and lacked genuine humor or wit. Also very weirdly, Pattinson was way more verbose as Batman than he was as Bruce, who did a lot of that awkward staring at people in the scenes where Bruce was featured, which were few and far in between. And when he would stare as Batman, I just didnt feel a sense of fear or danger coming from him. I felt like you could put any actor of decent physical stature in this costume and he would just as intimidating as Pattinson, which isn't saying much. Pattinson's "acting" was just a bunch of staring and scowling at people throughout the movie. He was too stiff and emotionless like a statue. As for his character development, there really wasn't any. He just brooded and moped through most of the film then at the end flipped a switch and realized that his true goal was helping people instead of getting revenge. Saving the subway mugging victim wasn't helping? Playing detective with Gordon wasnt helping? Saving Selina from herself wasnt helping? He's been playing vigilante crime fighter for 2 years and putting criminals behind bars. How is that not helping people?
Next, to Zoe Kravitz. From what I've seen of her in a few other things, including the Divergent franchise she's really not much of an actress. And this film did nothing to change my mind. She was OK but she certainly didn't feel like Catwoman/Selina Kyle to me. In fact, I feel like Selina's entire arc was awkwardly shoehorned into the movie and could not have even existed. Why was I supposed to care about Selina and this Russian girl? They had barely one scene of Batman scoping their apartment as they apparently argued then a few scenes later her dead body is in a trunk and I felt nothing. Then there was the cliche and uninspired reveal that Selina was Falcone's daughter. I just blankly stared at the screen when she revealed that information. And in the climactic scene where she went to kill Falcone, she was useless. Then the writers made up for it by having her randomly be there to save Batman in the climax. Never mind how someone as small as her could have the strength to pull up a man twice her size. Also, I must be the only one on the planet who thought her mask looked silly and her pixie hairdo was awful. And Kravitz is good-looking, so why the bad haircut? But mainly, Kravitz and Pattinson had zero chemistry. I felt nothing from their various interactions. This film didnt need her character nor this "love story’ at all.
As for the remaining cast, the various actors Turturro (as Falcone) Wright (as Lt. Gordon), Dano (as Riddler), Farrell (as Penguin), and Serkis (as Alfred) did their best with an odd script. I actually expected Farrell to be the standout, but his performance was reduced to him just being physically unrecognizable and sporting a different voice. But Penguin as a character was just kind of there like everyone else. All other iterations of these characters have been done better. I have more of a problem with very minor roles in this movie, just a bunch of bland, interchangeable characters who could have been played by any actor, like the D. A., the lady Mayor, twin bouncers at the club, the uniformed cop who called Batman a freak. None of these people felt believable or unique to me nor left any kind of impression. None of the conversations and character interactions in this film had any kind of emotion, staying power, or re-watchability. It was just characters exchanging stiff dialogue in the blandest possible way.
A big problem with this movie is it's running time. It's almost 3 hours long and feels every second of it. Stuff just happens. The movie jumps from scene to scene in a random fashion. Scenes are stretched out due to a bunch of awkward silence and staring and Batman SLOWLY walking around. The main plot, which is based on the Riddler's riddles, is very thin. Somehow, Batman is able to solve every riddle within seconds just to move the plot forward. And at times they dont make sense. Selina would always just randomly show up at the spot where Batman and Gordon were investigating. Then there's the music. The now iconic score just plays endlessly in the background throughout the entire film, many times feeling unearned. I really found the humor to be strained in this film. It wasn't cringe so much as forced. The writers tried to be more nuanced and subtle with the humor, but it just didn't land for me. There were a couple of mild chuckles, but that's about it. Then there's the agenda-riddled dialogue like when Catwoman said the "white privilege” line. I could feel and hear the collective groans in my movie theatre when she said that line. I don't know why Hollywood is so hellbent on inserting cringe stuff like this in virtually every major film nowadays.