The Batman is the latest film from director Matt Reeves (Dawn Of/War For The Planet Of The Apes, Cloverfield) and stars Robert Pattinson as the titular hero, as well as Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle, Paul Dano as a new take on The Riddler and an unrecognisable Colin Farrell as The Penguin, Oswald Cobblepot. For once, this is not an origin story, and you will not see the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. It follows a young Bruce Wayne in his second year as the Dark Knight.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a massive Batman fan. I genuinely think he’s the greatest fictional character ever created. I even have the symbol tattooed on my leg. So to say going into this that the hype was at an all-time high is still a massive understatement. And yes, the worry with that is that it can set me up for huge disappointment if the movie doesn’t meet my sky high expectations. Well, I am pleased to say that I did not leave disappointed.

I will start with the performances. I think everybody nails their characters here. I don’t want to hear anymore “Robert Pattinson was in Twilight” slander anymore. From now on, that man is Batman. He plays a version of the character we haven’t really seen on the screen before. Yes, Christian Bale’s Batman was dark and brooding, but Pattinson’s was just…different. He is Bruce Wayne, but he does not want to be Bruce Wayne. He only wants to be Batman and to avenge his parent’s deaths by punishing all of the criminals in Gotham City. This is year two of him being Batman so he is still very violent. It’s crazy to see him straight up pummel the shit out of a goon then hit him three or four more times once he is down while telling him “I’m vengeance.”

As for the supporting cast, Zoe Kravitz is wonderful as Selina Kyle/Catwoman and her chemistry with Battinson is instantly palpable. It makes their relationship throughout the film so much more believable. Paul Dano as this new iteration of The Riddler is very creepy and Dano really commits to it. Whenever he is on the screen, you can’t look away because you don’t know what he is going to do next. Also, his riddles provided some pretty dark comedy moments. My issue with Dano is nothing to do with his performance; I just wanted more of him.

I was surprised when Andy Serkis was cast as Alfred, although I shouldn’t have been with his connection to Matt Reeves from the Apes films. But moreso because Pierce Brosnan was rumoured for the role and I thought he’d have been perfect. Yet, Serkis really nailed the role. He is not at a point where he sees eye to eye with Bruce on things and there are some tense scenes between the two. John Turturro does a great job as Carmine Falcone and is featured more than any live action film yet. I have seen some criticism about Jeffrey Wright’s performance as Jim Gordon, but I thought he did really well, being the grounded character in a comic book world.

My favourite non-Batman performance in the film was easily Colin Farrell as The Penguin though. Like, I knew it was Colin Farrell yet I couldn’t tell it was Colin Farrell. Of course a lot of credit to the make-up department for that, but Farrell manages to put on a voice that is unique while also distinctly “Penguin.”

Next, I need to talk about Matt Reeves. The man is a superstar. Not even just because of this film. His two films in the Planet of the Apes franchise are vastly underrated and incredibly good. This is not a term I throw around lightly but they teeter on that line of being a masterpiece. Not surprisingly, Reeves brings his A-Game to The Batman as well. Every shot feels like it has a purpose. Every decision, no matter how small, seems to have been done pain-stakingly. An example; it’s well-known that in the comics, Batman blackens around his eyes so under the mask, all you see are his eyes, no skin. This is the first film that actually shows that when he takes the mask off. Another decision I liked is how they showed Batman entering scenes. Multiple times, you would hear Batman, by way of heavy stepping, before you saw him, and if you know anything about Batman, you will only hear him if he wants you to. It made the character all-the-more intimidating.

Speaking of intimidating, the action scenes are brilliant in this. This iteration of Batman isn’t so well-polished and is also much more brutal. So this makes the fight scenes a lot more grounded and realistic, relatively speaking of course. I mentioned earlier the pummeling of a near-unconscious goon to illustrate the brutality of the character. But Batman doesn’t get away from these fights unscathed. There are multiple fight scenes where he gets punched and even knocked down by just regular goons.

Another thing Reeves does very well that no other live action Batman film has done is bringing out the detective side of Batman. He is known as the World’s Greatest Detective after all. These scenes, the murder scenes of Riddler victims, are methodically paced, deliberately so. There are scenes where Batman will walk up to something, be it the victim, a murder weapon, blood splatter, or even another person, stare at them for a few seconds, uncomfortably so, and then walk away, not saying a word. There is a reason for this beyond “because it’s Batman” that is very clever that I won’t spoil, but it’s not something I have seen in a movie or game yet. Maybe it’s in a deep cut comic, but I couldn’t say.

The thing Reeves really did well, the best of any live action film, is bring Gotham City to life. It is made very clear that this city is an absolute cesspool, where the worst of the worst reside. It also touches on why crime is on the rise despite Batman being a thing, while also showing how he still strikes fear into the hearts of criminals, even if he isn’t around. It’s really a brilliant combination of storytelling and world-building.

So far, you will notice that I have only complimented this movie, and you are probably thinking “you’re just a biased fanboy.” And that may be true. However, I will admit that, even though I didn’t have an issue with it, there is a common criticism about the third act feeling rushed compared to the much slower first two acts. Not to mention a decision is made by The Riddler that doesn’t feel as deliberate or well-thought out as the rest of his decisions. Again, I have no issue with the third act at all, but I can understand how some people might, so it’s worth noting.

There is another somewhat common criticism this film is getting that I just can’t get behind though. I have seen plenty of people knocking this because it “doesn’t have any jokes.” Now, I love the MCU but if you come into this movie, a movie that has in no way insinuated that it is anything remotely close to the MCU in terms of tone, expecting something like Thor: Ragnarok where Batman and Riddler are chucking out one-liners left, right and centre, then you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. And that’ll be on you, because there is no reason to think that it would be like that except for the fact you have tuned your brain to think all comic book movies need to be quipfests.

Don’t let the runtime fool you either. Despite the slow pace of the first two acts, the film is never boring and the time flies by. Every scene is either developing characters or story, or is an awesome action sequence. Whether it be a fight in Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge nightclub, complete with doof doof music and flashing lights, or a car chase where Batman shows how truly unhinged he can be, there is plenty of action in the slower parts of this movie. Then the third act features the completion of multiple character arcs.

I’m going to show you behind the curtains of this writing thing; when writing reviews, while it’s your opinion, you aren’t really meant to make it personal when writing. But for me, how could I not make it personal? Batman is literally my favourite character of any medium of all-time, and they made a Batman movie crossed with a David Fincher movie. There was no way I wasn’t going to love this. So if you happen to be one of the (very) few who read this review before seeing the movie, don’t take what I say as gospel (except the bit about the MCU). Go in with an open mind and just experience the movie.