Archive for March, 2022

The Lost City

Posted in Action, Adventure, Comedy with tags on March 31, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Have you ever seen an ad for a movie that makes it look utterly generic, but the reviews drop and they’re favorable? Then it opens at the box office and it’s a big hit as well. Suddenly you wonder if you incorrectly judged a book by its cover. So you go see it but it turns out to be even more bland and hackneyed than you suspected. That’s my experience with The Lost City. I need to trust my gut.

The Lost City squanders a promising beginning. Loretta Sage is an intellectual who just so happens to write successful romance novels. Her books feature a fictional star named Dash. Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum) is a model who poses as the leading man on the cover. At the behest of her publicist (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and social media manager (Patti Harrison), Loretta and Alan make an appearance before a crowd of fans. The throng is a lot more excited to see “Dash.” He appears as a Fabio-styled celebrity with long blond hair that turns out to be a wig. That scene is amusing. Unfortunately, the expo doesn’t go well and she leaves in a huff. However, she’s kidnapped in a black SUV and brought to meet an eccentric billionaire named Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe). He wants Loretta’s help in translating an artifact to acquire hidden treasure on a mysterious island. She refuses but he employs chloroform and takes her there anyways. After Loretta goes missing, Alan calls his old buddy Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), a highly-skilled yoga instructor. The two meet on the island and attempt to rescue her.

I could continue but the elaborate setup is just an excuse for a sloppy episodic adventure that isn’t funny. The Lost City is a cheap remix of better movies. The blueprint is Romancing the Stone with a healthy dose of Indiana Jones thrown in. God forgive me for even mentioning those classics in the same breath. This mess is a poor imitation. In another case of “too many cooks,” this dud of a screenplay is credited to a whopping five individuals. The material co-written by directors and brothers Adam and Aaron Nee with Oren Uziel and Dana Fox, from a story conceived by Seth Gordon, made me chuckle maybe two or three times.

Even the most talented actor can’t breathe life into bad material. The various situations are convoluted and stupid. That’s OK. If the dialogue is well written, they don’t have to make sense. See Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar for proof. Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, and Brad Pitt mug and exaggerate their lines as best they can. A slew of assorted predicaments fail to extract laughs no matter how hard they try. The humor is broad and forced. Witnessing Sandra Bullock peel leaches off what is supposedly Channing Tatum’s naked backside is not her finest hour. Pitt’s dignity remains intact as the too-good-to-be-true action hero personality. I enjoyed the chronicle whenever he was on screen. Sadly his limited presence is reduced to a glorified cameo. The main stars do their best but watching Tatum play dumb while Bullock acts annoyed is not enough to form the basis of an entire picture. This expedition to find the Lost City turned out to be a crushing bore. They should’ve been on a quest to find a decent script.


Deep Water

Posted in Drama, Mystery, Thriller with tags on March 29, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

A new release starring erstwhile lovers Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas based on a 1957 novel by Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley) and helmed by provocateur Adrian Lyne would have been a big deal in a previous era. Yet on March 18, this went straight to streaming on Hulu. There’s a reason for that. Adult movie fare isn’t doing so well in theaters at the moment. Oh and frankly, it’s not all that good. But that doesn’t mean it lacks entertainment value.

Director Adrien Lyne earned a flashy reputation in the 80s & 90s for glossy dramas that were sexy and stylish. Flashdance, Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal were some of his best known. However, the last time he made a film, was way back in 2002. Unfaithful featured an Oscar-nominated performance by Diane Lane. She was outstanding to be sure, but I also credit Adrien Lyne for being the director in charge of that production. The promise of his first picture in 20 years is something to celebrate. If only it delivered the captivating heights of his previous work.

Deep Water is a limp drama about a couple living in the fictional Louisiana town of Little Wesley. It concerns a husband named Vic Van Allen, (Ben Affleck) in an unconventional marriage to his wife Melinda (Ana de Armas). She has affairs with various men. Instead of sneaking around behind his back, she flaunts them much to his discomfort. It’s the odd back and forth of the feuding twosome that compels your attention. However, the story is a head-scratcher. At first, it appears they’ve agreed to an open marriage. But when Vic threatens the guest (Brendan C. Miller) that Melinda invites to a party, it’s clear Vic isn’t happy with what his wife is doing. Although that doesn’t stop her. It’s implied that perhaps Melinda savors his jealousy. Martin McRae — the last guy that romanced his wife — goes missing and Vic claims to be responsible. Or is he kidding? Melinda is unfazed by the possibility that Vic is a murderer. “I’m the one you kill for.” she coos. It isn’t long before she’s off openly flirting with a different man (Jacob Elordi) and then another (Finn Wittrock).

Deep Water occasionally recalls what made Lyne’s earlier output so irresistible. The milieu is sleek and polished. As photographed by cinematographer Eigil Bryld, the living spaces are exquisitely opulent. They live in a palatial suburban mansion that would be right at home on the pages of Architectural Digest. The bathrooms are the size of a bedroom. A grand pool at the center of a party shimmers with an incandescent glow. The atmosphere is seductive. It hints that something sinister is always brewing. But the attempt to achieve the provocative excitement of his past work goes unfulfilled and an abrupt ending is supremely unsatisfying.

Deep Water is not good. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the mischievous tone that pervades the account. Melinda has this lusty appetite that straddles the line between insatiable and ridiculous. Conversely, Vic inexplicably vacillates between bouts of being enraged and aroused. The developments elicit laughter and campy elements inform the plot. Their precocious six-year-old daughter steals every scene she is in. The suggestion is the dissimilar pair stay together for her sake. Her bratty behavior is an annoying delight. “Alexa, play ‘Old MacDonald’ again” she chirps despite her mother’s protestations. Meanwhile, Vic keeps snails as pets and that’s a bizarre addition to the story. Ben Affleck broods with the same intensity as Nick Dunne, his role in Gone Girl. His character is a most perplexing personality. I could never quite figure out what motivates this highly confused individual. In the absence of a clear motive or credible passion, I simply reveled in the absurdity of it all.


Lucy and Desi

Posted in Biography, Comedy, Documentary with tags on March 23, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The fascination with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz is stronger than ever. Coming on the heels of Aaron Sorkin’s drama Being the Ricardos, which was released in December 2021, we now have this documentary about the duo. Lucy and Desi debuted on Amazon Prime Video on March 4. The documentary is one of the better things I’ve watched this year. I figured I should sing its satisfying praises.

Lucy and Desi is a record of how the two met, started their TV show, formed Desilu studios, and their eventual breakup. This is comedian Amy Poehler’s third directorial feature (Wine Country, Moxie) but her first documentary. It also includes a lot of archival footage which is pretty standard for these kinds of records. What elevates the profile is her access to previously unreleased audiotapes recorded by the couple. They occasionally narrate the corresponding video. We get a nice feel for their offscreen personalities. We are privy to the events behind the scenes while they were filming their sitcom. The innovations they introduced during their professional careers are lauded. Meanwhile, home movies shed light on their private life as well. This includes time spent with their kids.

I’m a huge fan of I Love Lucy. I’ve seen every episode to the point I can recite the dialogue from most of them. The TV program ranks up in my personal Top 10 of all time. As such, I’ve read a fair amount about her life and the series in general. There aren’t any revelations in this chronicle. People unaware of how integral Desi Arnaz was to the making of the sitcom may be surprised. Overall it’s a pretty conventional retelling of their story, but it’s thoughtful too. Fans will enjoy it especially because it highlights what made Lucille Ball such a revolutionary talent. Luminaries like Carol Burnett, Bette Midler, and Norman Lear wax rhapsodic over her impact on them. Lucy and Desi’s daughter Lucie Arnaz was an executive producer on Being the Ricardos and here she is an interviewee.

Lucy and Desi is a loving tribute. There’s overlap between the recent drama Being the Ricardos. Events like Lucille Ball’s pregnancy with Desi Arnaz Jr, accusations that she was a communist, and Desi Arnaz’s alleged affairs are all mentioned. However, where Aaron Sorkin’s biopic simply focused on one turbulent week in the making of their hit television show, this covers a much wider part of their lives. This is a varnished portrait. It promotes the two stars as TV legends and rightfully so. The narrative details their lives with the requisite ups and downs. Any knowledgeable fan will already know this stuff so the info isn’t earth-shattering, but it is entertaining. Sometimes the cinematic version of comfort food can really hit the spot.



Posted in Crime, Drama, Thriller with tags on March 21, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Windfall has been boldly touted as a Hitchcockian thriller. If I had a $1 for every movie that failed to live up to that high bar…I’d probably have at least $50. Hey, I’m trying to be realistic, but it happens a lot. At this point, I regard the appellation as a red flag for something that aspires to Alfred’s brilliance but isn’t as thoughtful. This film reinforces those feelings.

The drama concerns a burglar (Jason Segel) who breaks into the luxurious vacation home of a wealthy CEO (Jesse Plemons) who heads a tech company. Things don’t go as planned when the CEO and his wife (Lily Collins) happen to coincidentally show up at that moment and surprise the would-be prowler. I didn’t know it at the time, but the parts are listed as CEO, wife, and Nobody (for the robber) in the credits. That perfunctory attitude pervades the account. There are so many directions the writers could have taken. They chose the most mundane.

The narrative is constructed around a boring discussion set within a scenic but fixed locale. We discover the husband and wife are quite blasé about the robbery. They unexpectedly offer to help the thief out so he can be on his way. There’s one amusing interaction where the couple encourages the robber to negotiate his take up to half a million dollars. The cost of living has skyrocketed they contend. However a sum that large will require a day to arrive. Over the next 24 hours, the three participants will have a tedious conversation. We learn that the couple isn’t happily married. The intruder seems benign while the tech mogul grows more arrogant and obnoxious. That’s about the extent of it. There’s not much more to be discovered than that. A gardener shows up, but that doesn’t improve the story.

Director Charlie McDowell has worked with screenwriters Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker before. The One I Love had a similar single location setting, but that story had a supernatural component. At least it kept things interesting. The high point here occurs when the three of them are watching TV. We witness a scene from the 80s western comedy Three Amigos! That brief snippet is more compelling than anything in this picture. Windfall is only 92 minutes but I couldn’t wait for it to be over. (So I could watch Three Amigos!)


Fast Film Reviews on talkSPORT radio

Posted in Podcast with tags on March 20, 2022 by Mark Hobin

On January 30, I discussed the historical drama MUNICH – THE EDGE OF WAR starring George MacKay and Jeremy Irons with Martin Kelner on talkSPORT radio. My segment begins 3 minutes into the 2:30 – 3:00 section (about 27 minutes from the end). Click below to listen.

Source: The world’s biggest sports radio station | talkSPORT

Fast Film Reviews on talkSPORT radio

Posted in Podcast with tags on March 20, 2022 by Mark Hobin

On January 23, I discussed Oscar nominees BELFAST and NIGHTMARE ALLEY on talkSPORT radio. My segment begins 5 minutes into the 2:30 – 3:00 section (about 25 minutes from the end). Click below and enjoy!

Source: The world’s biggest sports radio station | talkSPORT

The Adam Project

Posted in Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Science Fiction with tags on March 15, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Free Guy was one of the biggest hits of 2021, so it made financial sense that star Ryan Reynolds and director Shawn Levy would reunite. This is another high concept, sci-fi movie that’s even more wholesome. I appreciate that both Free Guy and this new release are “original” ideas not based on an established property. Nevertheless, The Adam Project still feels awfully familiar.

Adam Reed is a space pilot who time travels from the future year of 2050 back to 2022. Ryan Reynolds is playing a sarcastic type with a confident personality. Newsflash: this is the same character he has played in every single picture he has ever made. Please don’t @ me with counterexamples. Hyperbole is a part of film criticism. In this one, he meets his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell) and together they unite on a mission to end time travel and SAVE THE WORLD.

If it sounds a little like I’m mocking this, it’s because I am. The production is fabricated from pre-existing parts. The narrative liberally copies elements of classics from my childhood like Back to the Future and The Last Starfighter. Indeed, those were enjoyable flicks. The difference here is a generic screenplay credited to four different writers: Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin. The story is calculated like a commodity a studio manufactured from a blueprint called a “family-friendly sci-fi action movie” with heavy inspiration from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. The production is synthesized from hyper-edited battles and digital laser blasts. The action does slow down occasionally so it can evoke some emotion when the adult man and his younger self give each other wisdom to be a better person. The best scene is a quiet one. Reynolds as the grown-up son gives his mother encouragement. She is unaware they’re related. The interaction set in a local bar uncomfortably suggests a flirtatious exchange at first, but it turns into a genuinely affecting moment.

This is high-quality entertainment for the entire family conveniently available to Netflix subscribers for free. Lately, I’m bewildered when certain releases go directly to streaming. Pixar’s Turning Red is another recent example. The Adam Project looks expensive. The amalgamation is well-produced, so I can’t say it’s bad. Young actor Walker Scobell effectively evokes Reynolds as a boy. Color me surprised that he was the standout in this star-studded ensemble. The cast also features Jennifer Garner, Catherine Keener, Zoe Saldaña, and Mark Ruffalo. Given the stars and the budget, this looks like a theatrical picture. Ryan Reynolds was just in Red Notice and that was a massive success on Netflix. This is much better, so no shock that it’s currently #1 on the streaming service as well. I have seen a version of this movie hundreds of times (more hyperbole). Meanwhile, children have not. Take my tepid reaction with a grain of salt.


Turning Red

Posted in Adventure, Animation, Comedy with tags on March 14, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Right from the start, the protagonist at the center of Turning Red puts the word of God on blast — specifically, the fourth or fifth Commandment (depending on the biblical translation). “Honoring your parents sounds great”, she says, “but “if you take it too far, well you might forget to honor yourself. Luckily I don’t have that problem.” That’s Meilin Lee’s self-centered mantra in nutshell. She adheres to it like a religion. Yeah, she’s a confident adolescent, but at what cost?

I greet the release of a new Pixar movie as something of an event. Historically they’ve done some of my favorite animated movies: the Toy Story series, Monsters, Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, WALL-E, Up, Inside Out. Coco is the last essential entry. Pixar’s ability to turn out one classic after another during their first two decades (1995 – 2015) was unprecedented. I still enjoy their output, but the bloom is off the rose. Sequelitis and imitation have typified the studio’s ideas as of late.

Turning Red is a tale set in 2002 about a 13-year old Chinese girl living in Toronto, Canada going through puberty. Meilin (Rosalie Chiang) — “Mei” for short — is experiencing some changes. Whenever she gets emotional, she turns into a big red panda. Initially, her mother (Sandra Oh) suspects something else. “Did the red peony bloom?” she asks. Later the mother embarrasses her daughter by driving up to her school classroom. With her teacher and entire class present, Mom openly screams “Mei-Mei! Tell him you forgot your pads!”

Formulas in Disney/Pixar movies evolve. The films that involve absentee or deceased parents (Snow White, Cinderella, The Jungle Book), and nurturing mothers (Bambi, Dumbo) have given way to the era of the domineering matriarch. As proof, I submit Tangled‘s villainous Mother Gothel, the abuelas in Encanto and Coco, Joe Gardner’s mom in Soul, and Queen Elinor in Brave — a mother that vexed her daughter so much that young Merida turned her into a bear.

The matriarch at the center of Turning Red is a tyrannical perfectionist. Incidentally, Father (Orion Lee) is inobtrusive. He acts more like an older brother. Jin Lee is rarely permitted to speak. When he does, he offers supportive words of encouragement. But this isn’t about him. Back to Ming Lee. She runs a temple in Toronto, leading visitors through tours of the ancestral family shrine. Instead of worshiping a god, they kneel before a portrait and idolize an ancestor named Sun Yee. That’s different. Sun Yee was granted the ability to transform into a red panda to protect her village from rampaging attackers. Unfortunately, this magical “blessing” was also bestowed upon every woman in the family when they come of age. Later they must perform a pagan ritual to contain the spirit of the beast within a talisman.

Mother’s controlling ways reach a disturbing zenith. Daughter Mei is consumed by raging hormones. Now the poor girl is dealing with the changes in her body. Mei has an innocent crush on a 17-year-old clerk at a local convenience store. He is unaware of her lust. Mei’s doodles in her notebook of him with muscles send Ming into a state of panic. Instead of addressing it with her daughter, she chastises the oblivious object of her desires down at the store. The customers look on in astonishment. The boy is understandably confused. The script also goes off on a detailed tangent about a teen boy band called 4★Town. Her mother fiercely disapproves of this quintet as well. “Why are they called 4★Town if there’s five of them?” Now THAT’S funny. Ming is not a fan of her friends either. She believes Miriam is a bad influence. Is there anyone this woman does like?

The personalities grow way past unpleasant to the point of offensive. Ming is an unyielding control freak with overbearing — borderline oppressive — demands. Mei regards Mom as an irritant in her life. When Ming refuses to let her go to a concert, it’s not a problem. Mei is a willful girl and will go anyway. Lying and hiding things from her parents is kind of her thing. Mei is committed to her ethnically diverse group of friends. Miriam (Ava Morse), Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and Abby (Hyein Park) comprise the center of her life. Thoughts of her besties evoke serenity. She uses these feelings to calm her inner panda. Ok, let’s recap: Mother = bad. Friends = good. I get that might mirror the mindset of some teens, but it’s not a quality to champion, nor did it endear me to her personality.

There has never been a cartoon quite like Turning Red. When a politically-charged slogan is appropriated as “My Panda My Choice” you know this is not your father’s Pixar. It’s a definite shift for the studio. Art echoes the artist. Writer/director Domee Shi has created a deeply personal work. It tackles the biological changes of a girl becoming a woman head-on without flinching. Therein lies the innovation. It also reflects an ongoing push for more Asian Representation. The animation deserves mention. The dazzling style which draws on the traditions of anime is consistently impressive. The facial expressions are a particular standout. Yet the narrative is weak. After an interesting start, the story ultimately devolves into a pedestrian monster flick. The production lazily cribs from disparate sources like The Incredible Hulk and Teen Wolf to fashion an obvious metaphor for puberty. The chronicle occasionally loses focus. Did we need to learn the names and personalities of every boy band member? But most problematically, the main characters are supremely unlikeable. Ming is unhinged. Mei is egocentric. “I do what I want, say what I want, and I do not hesitate to do a spontaneous cartwheel if I feel so moved.” Hey, you do you girl but I’mma get going.


After Yang

Posted in Drama, Science Fiction with tags on March 10, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 2 out of 5.

A minimalist sci-fi flick from A24 Films about an artificially intelligent robot that coexists with people featuring an incongruous dance routine, I’d have said you described Ex Machina to a T. Not so fast. Alex Garland’s 2015 release has a spiritual cousin in After Yang. However, that is where the similarities end.

After Yang‘s boogie moment pops up early on. It happens during the credits which occur after a 4-minute opening intro. Apparently, families of the future compete in virtual competitions. This is recreation, like playing “Dance Dance Revolution” in your living room. More than 30,000 households are competing across the globe. “Level one complete. 3,000 families eliminated,” a woman’s disembodied voice flatly declares. The captivating sequence suggests a tale about a dystopian society where people are literally terminated for not performing choreography with meticulous precision. Sadly it was not meant to be. This is nothing more than a playful introduction to the cast.

The drama concerns an android purchased by parents Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith). Yang (Justin H. Min) is what is known as a “technosapien.” He has been programmed to help their adoptive Chinese daughter Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) learn about her cultural heritage. The movie is adapted from the short story Saying Goodbye to Yang by Alexander Weinstein. Then one day, Yang stops working. The malfunction means more than just the loss of a babysitter. He’s also become something of a surrogate son. Yang is still under warranty, but Jake’s traditional attempts to have the appliance repaired are difficult. He bought a refurbished model from a shop that no longer exists. But then a rogue repairman (Ritchie Coster) steps in to help and uncovers some hidden memories of which Jake was unaware. These include a mysterious girl (Haley Lu Richardson). Is there something more sinister afoot? Was “Big Brother” Yang built to spy on the family? Alas, this fascinating idea is not explored either.

What does it mean to be human? South Korean-born writer and director Kogonada (Columbus) considers the age-old question. Then probes further to ask what it means to be “Asian.” Yang is a “cultural techno” that can offer “Chinese fun facts” as part of his educational discourse. Nevertheless, he laments that he feels disassociated from his ethnicity. This is where the movie ultimately shows its hand. After Yang aspires to be a rumination on race, culture, family, and identity. The screenplay has ambitious objectives. The problem is it does little more than suggest those ideas then does absolutely nothing with them. The mood is chilly, spartan, and sterile. Yang is a machine, so his lifeless personality makes perfect sense. Yet the humans are ciphers too, almost catatonic in their inability to express emotion. The actors often contemplate these concepts in darkened spaces and silence. Unfortunately, I do not read minds so I was at a significant disadvantage.


The Batman

Posted in Action, Crime, Drama, Superhero, Thriller with tags on March 7, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Did we really need another Batman movie? At this point, the question is akin to asking whether we want more James Bond flicks, an additional performance of A Christmas Carol, or a new production of Hamlet. For any film lover, the answer will forever be yes. The obligation is to make it good and to bring something fresh to the table.

Every new incarnation of Batman seems to top the previous one in darkness and gloom. Tim Burton’s 1989 vision was a game-changer compared with the lighthearted TV show of the 1960s. However, by the time Joel Schumacher had directed parts 3 and 4, the 1990s series had devolved into a zany cartoon. Christopher Nolan recalibrated with The Dark Knight trilogy. It’s the definitive version as far as I’m concerned. That spirit inspired the DC Extended Universe franchise with Ben Affleck. The R-rated spin-off Joker upped the ante considerably and now we’ve got this reboot in 2022.

The title points to a back-to-basics approach. Bruce Wayne is the Batman, a vigilante uncovering corruption in Gotham City. He has a personal vendetta against the kind of criminals that took his parents when he was 10. Director Matt Reeves — who wrote the screenplay with Peter Craig — wisely spares us the umpteenth dramatization of that murder. A slow-motion shot of Martha’s pearl necklace falling apart is burned into my mind. But I digress. The caped crusader is conflicted by the ethics of vengeance. He has the uneasy support of Lieutenant “not quite Commissioner” Gordon (Jeffrey Wright). In Batman’s quest to bring criminals to justice he meets The Riddler (Paul Dano). The arch-villain has been singling out corrupt officials suggesting a connection between them and the criminal underworld. The web of corruption runs deep. It may even impugn the hallowed legacy of the Wayne family.

The Batman is yet another melancholy depiction of the superhero, but the narrative does distinguish itself from the others. The biggest difference is that this interpretation leans very heavily into the idea that Bruce Wayne is first and foremost a detective. Lest we forget, DC stands for Detective Comics after all. The story is set after he’s been fighting crime for two years. The Riddler is a sadistic serial killer in this iteration. Think of Batman as Sherlock Holmes dropped into the thriller Seven or even a Saw movie. The Riddler places his victims in these contraptions that recall the devices from that horror franchise. He taunts the Dark Knight with a string of riddles. Each one conveyed in a greeting card. Batman’s pursuit of justice will lead him to an organized crime conspiracy in Gotham city and a variety of different characters.

The saga incorporates a terrific cast. This includes a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and a mobster played by an unrecognizable Colin Farrell. Oswald Cobblepot is his name but you might know him better as The Penguin. Of course, the most important person is Robert Pattison as the main character. He’s officially the 10th person to portray Batman in a live-action picture. Pattinson manages to offer a unique take on his personality. Bruce Wayne is significantly more troubled with what he is doing. The most depressed and broken interpretation of the character we’ve seen thus far. He’s also younger than the most iconic portrayals. Pattinson is physically slight, less stocky. His emo haircut says he’s sensitive and even sports eyeliner when he wears the cowl. “They think I’m hiding in the shadows, but I am the shadows,” he whispers. This Batman doesn’t growl like his predecessors.

The Batman is a lot of things. Simply consider the definite article before the name. The title is a declaration that’s a little presumptuous right off the bat, no pun intended. The film is also too long…nearly three hours. The convoluted tale features the labyrinthian twists and turns of an investigation. Although to its credit, it doesn’t drag. But most of all it’s dark. I’m talking pitch black. The atmosphere is not an innovation. We’ve seen this somber rendition before. It’s so bleak but it does affect the compelling mood of a neo-noir. Director Matt Reeves stages the action with such visual flair underscored by the stunning cinematography of Greig Fraser (Lion, Dune). One stylish scene with Selina Kyle takes place in a sordid private club amidst the flashing strobe lights. The movie feels cinematic. Although it may not top Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, there’s still much to admire. That’s enough for a recommendation.