HEAD TO HEAD: Should you spend nearly three hours of your time to watch ‘The Batman’?
May 10, 2022
Director’s version of Gotham and its elements make the runtime worth it
Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” is in my opinion one of the best films ever made. Before that, “Minari” about a Korean family moving from California to Arkansas in search of the American dream was a top favorite of mine. Though the latter’s run time was at nearly two hours, the recently released DC superhero flick goes on for nearly three hours (just four minutes shy).
That’s one of the main criticisms about the film – its runtime.
While yes, most movies – especially superhero ones – tend to stay within the two-hour limit, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a new interpretation of the Batman franchise after Christopher Nolan’s standard-bearing Dark Knight trilogy (“Batman Begins,” 2005; “The Dark Knight,” 2008; “The Dark Knight Rises,” 2012). So this latest version had to set up a completely new world for audiences to see.
As director, Reeves (“Mother/Android”) made the decision to show viewers what his interpretation of Gotham looks like with its grimy crime corruption and the various characters who rule the streets.
Batman, Catwoman and the Riddler also needed time to have their respective compelling character arcs and motivations as to why and how they developed in terms of their character traits. Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne especially needed the time to change from viewing himself as a vengeful crusader to a symbol of hope for the people of Gotham.
The movie’s pacing allows all of this to be shown in detail. Its scenes are justified as much as those of the Top 3 longest runtime of U.S. films according to newsweek.com: 1939’s “Gone With the Wind” (two minutes shy of four hours), 1984’s “Once Upon a Time in America” (three hours and 49 minutes) and 1962’s “Lawrence of Arabia” (three hours and 36 minutes).
In terms of its cinematography, “The Batman” is a welcome departure from previous DC and Marvel superhero films.
Cinematographer Greig Fraser uses lighting to accentuate certain locales within Gotham; Fraser also employs the use of older lenses to give “The Batman” a unique look that previous films of this genre didn’t have before.
The last complaint I hear about is the epic climax of the film. Without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it on the big screen, I understand that it’s completely ridiculous.
But it serves a point in the end. It shows the bad effects of Batman’s influence on the Riddler’s followers. This causes the caped crusader to finally find what he needs to make real change in Gotham.
For those who haven’t watched the March 4-released film yet, be sure to go into the theater with the mindset that the next several hours will be worth looking at the screen to see what the flick’s producers have to offer.
I can’t wait to see the sequel and wouldn’t mind if it had the same runtime, if not longer. Someone’s got to catch up with “Gone With the Wind.”
Yaawwn! This version of Batman way too long to hold viewers’ attention
“Avengers: Endgame” runs two minutes past three hours.
“Avengers: Infinity War” goes on for two hours and nearly 30 minutes.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” almost equals “Infinity War” at two hours and 28 minutes.
Though in possession of generally long runtimes, the aforementioned Marvel movies experimented with a concept rarely projected on theater screens — the multiverse.
That concept kept viewers’ attention and justified each film’s length.
So when DC released “The Batman” March 4, it eclipsed those Marvel classics with a run time of nearly three hours — two hours and 56 minutes to be exact.
Before purchasing my ticket for “The Batman,” I disregarded the controversy among fans about the movie’s length; however, after watching the film, I agree with the critics who say “The Batman” runs far too long.
Unlike its predecessor, the Dark Knight trilogy that ran from 2005-2012, “The Batman” displays fight scenes of minimal and underwhelming impact. All of the transitions were too quick to understand and rather disturbing to watch.
Instead of pitting Batman against his adversary, the Riddler, director Matt Reeves (“Mother/Android”) shows fight scenes with Batman against irrelevant, small mob bosses. These smaller battles set the stage for a large-scale, intense finale with Batman against the Riddler.
But my expectations for that moment soon fell when the film revealed the villain to be someone completely unexpected (not to spoil it for those who haven’t spared their nearly three hours to watch this film yet).
Not only did the fight scenes fail to bring any adrenaline and excitement, the plot is also repetitive and boring. The movie intends to bring mystery to audiences when Batman faces multiple riddles left by his foe to show his intellectual superiority over the caped crusader. Instead, the puzzles bring almost no excitement as the plot recurs multiple times – definitely no multiverse here.
In addition, viewers will come to the same conclusion as I did about these challenges from the Riddler: Each solution is quite predictable.
Prior to watching the movie, I, along with many Batman fans, looked forward to seeing the relationship and interactions between Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz, “KIMI”) and Batman.
Despite this hyped component through social media and the trailer, the movie consists of only two encounters between the love birds.
Others may argue that the runtime is necessary to really bring out Batman’s character and emphasize his progression, but I really didn’t notice a difference from the beginning and the end. Knowing that so many individuals are loyal to the Batman franchise, it’s a disgrace to see Warner Bros. approve of Reeves’ direction here.
Here’s hoping for a much shorter sequel when Bruce Wayne aka the Batman and who knows who else make another appearance in the sequel.