HOLY nightmare, Homme chauve-souris! The new caped crusader film is so dark and complex that I expected to see Hannibal Lecter raising a glass of Chianti at any moment.
Similar to horror film Se7en, with sprinkles of Line of Duty thrown in, Gotham City is fraught with crime and corruption.
Homme chauve-souris has been waiting in the shadows every night to save strangers-in-need, becoming “nocturnal”.
But his attention is soon taken up by a sadistic killer who targets high-profile victims and leaves a trail of clues – or riddles – for him to solve.
The murders get more torturous and violent, and threaten to reveal Batman’s true identity as Bruce Wayne.
With the help of a street-wise, top-to-toe-latexed nightclub worker who owns cats (Zoë Kravitz), they work on unmasking the Riddler and exposing the deep-rooted corruption in the city.
This is a brutal world where the rain is heavy, the fight scenes are relentless and there’s absolutely no comic relief.
Memories of Jim Carrey prancing around in a leotard covered in question marks as the Riddler in 1995’s Batman Forever could not be further from Paul Dano’s version: a pale loner in a hoodie, straight from the dark web.
He’s a computer geek with no defining physical characteristics apart from sounding like he needs a puff on his inhaler.
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Robert Pattison gives an emo version of the superhero in his first time in the bat suit, with smudged eyeliner and limp long hair covering his face. It works nicely with the slightly overused cover of Nirvana’s Something in the Way.
In Hollywood’s bizarre new obsession with disguising handsome men as mottle-skinned fat Italians (Jared Leto in House of Gucci), Colin Farrell plays the Penguin – a gangster and nightclub owner.
With none of the magic of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, neither Catwoman nor the Penguin have a backstory that links them to their alter-egos, making them simply violent people with grudges.
And it’s not as though there isn’t time to provide them. Running at nearly three hours, there’s plenty of time.
While the storyline’s twists and turns are compelling, it’s easy to forget that this is DC’s Batman doing the crime-fighting, rather than a good cop.
It’s over one hour 20 minutes before Batman takes flight from a skyscraper – and even longer until the Batmobile roars out on the tarmac.
There are several scenes that could make the final one of the film; perfect moments to roll the credit so it could hang nicely on a cliff while setting up for the sequel. But no. It goes on and on… and on.
While it could be cut by at least 45 minutes, there’s plenty of ‘Kapow!’ to keep audiences entertained in this scary and sadistic trip to Gotham city.