Arts and Culture

Now Streaming: ‘The Batman’

Updated: Apr 21, 2022 09:02
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Now Streaming:

Released this past March, Matt Reeves’ The Batman is available to stream for free with an HBOMax subscription. The film is also available to own or to rent via YouTube,Vudu, and Apple TV.

The most stylish superhero film I’ve ever seen, Matt Reeves’ The Batman is a taut, enthrallingly sexy, pitch black thriller. This is franchise filmmaking taken to task and stripped bare.

Robert Pattison has succeeded in ways his predecessors haven’t. His Batman is something truly inspired and deeply bizarre. Sure, Christian Bale had a helluva growl, but it’s Pattinson’s ability to imbue the caped crusader with a sense of subterranean ghoulishness that sets him apart from Bale and all others that have donned the cape and cowl. His unhinged, probing eyes pierce through that iconic mask to an almost supernatural effect. 

The supporting cast is particularly strong here, notably the completely unrecognizable Colin Farrell as mobster scumbag, Penguin. Jared Leto should take note: This is the kind of prosthetic-driven, ballsy performance he failed to pull off in last year’s House of Gucci.

Zoe Kravitz turns in star-making work as Selina Kyle, the perfect counterpart to Pattinson’s stoic, brooding figure. The chemistry between the two is electric: kinky, voyeuristic, and a little sadomasochistic. Thank god. It’s the best thing about the whole fuckin’ movie. Kravitz pushes past the campy, feline physicality that has marred other iterations to deliver a Catwoman that is remarkably human. She’s every bit as complex, wounded, and badass as Batman. A true and tried equal. A small revelation for a movie of this kind. 

To be clear, The Batman is far from a perfect outing. Its midsection sags. It nearly tanks under the weight of its own running time (it’s fuckin’ three hours), and for all its lofty ambitions, succumbs to dismal genre trappings in its crescendo.

Yet there’s something markedly distinct about what Reeves achieves with this flick.

While the superhero genre has remained (mostly) intellectually and artistically bankrupt throughout its 20 years of indelible dominance, the craft on display in The Batman points to an optimistic future. One in which franchise filmmaking exists not to satiate stockholders, placate fanboys, and sell children’s toys, but to attempt to create something bold and exciting.

Now that’s something truly worth applauding.

Christian Johnson is an Oakland-based writer, filmmaker, and curator. For more bent, unintelligible cinematic ramblings follow him on Instagram @film.essayas. 

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