Not the Oscars, but Close
Throughout this year, hundreds of new movies crossed our screens. Two years after the start of the pandemic, audiences were ready for new films to occupy their minds. These five movies were released in 2022 and were standouts in their genres and in the film world. If you have not had a chance to see them yet, make sure they are on your must-watch list before the new year comes.
Don’t Worry Darling, Thriller/Mystery, Directed by Olivia Wilde
This movie features a star-studded cast including Harry Styles, Florence Pugh, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, and Nick Kroll. The movie is centered around a married couple, Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles), who live on an idealistic cul-de-sac with Jack’s coworkers and the couples’ friends. Each day, the husbands go to work while their wives stay at home. However, Alice begins to notice odd things happening in her community, and when she starts asking questions, she faces backlash from the community leader guru, Frank (Chris Pine). This fast-paced and beautifully shot movie features twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Nope, Horror/Sci-Fi, Directed by Jordan Peele
This popular horror movie features Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya, Barbie Ferreira, Michael Wincott, and Brandon Perea. Nope makes itself unique from other horror movies in that it incorporates both comedy and science fiction. It follows two siblings that live on a ranch in California and notice a UFO in the sky, which turns their world upside down. This foreign object causes turmoil in their lives, creating a unique and fascinating storyline for all viewers to enjoy.
Where the Crawdads Sing, Mystery/Drama, Directed by Olivia Newman
This highly anticipated movie is based on the best-selling beloved novel by Delia Owens. The movie focuses on the main character, Kya Clark, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones. Kya was abandoned as a young girl and raised herself in the marshlands of North Carolina. Surviving alone, Kya grew up into a strong young woman. After a man in town is discovered dead, Kya immediately becomes one of the main suspects. This drama is fast-paced and keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat. Additionally, this movie appeals to many Taylor Swift lovers as it features some of her music.
The Batman, Action/Adventure, Directed by Matt Reeves
With another incredibly star-studded cast, The Batman features celebrities such as Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Wright, and Andy Serkis. Following the basic plotline of most Batman movies, Batman (Robert Pattinson) attempts to save Gotham City from the villains of the world. Batman works hard throughout the course of the movie to bring justice back to the city of Gotham and protect its citizens.
The Woman King, Action/Drama, Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood
In this movie showcasing Viola Davis, a group of all-female warriors protect their kingdom. This powerful group of women has their own unique set of skills that allows them to ferociously protect the African kingdom of Dahomey. The general warrior amongst all the women is General Nanisca, who trains a new group of recruits to fight against the latest threat posed to their kingdom. This movie is action-packed and guaranteed to keep the viewer’s attention the whole time.
Stellar The Batman Delivers the Batman of Comic Book Lore
Stellar The Batman Delivers the Batman of Comic Book Lore
Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson Give New Life to the Superhero
Aidan Lerner ’22
Matt Reeves’ The Batman is the most accurate depiction of the character to appear in a live-action film with regard to the film’s adherence to the characteristics that have been foundational to Batman since his 1939 comic book inception.
In March, The Batman became the first solo Batman film released since 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. Zack Snyder’s attempted murder of the character in assorted, horrible Justice League movies from 2016-2021 does not count. In 10 years, this reporter has probably watched Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman movies upwards of 20 different times. That said, a fresh take on the character was much-needed, one that would leave behind some of the quirks Nolan and his Batman, Christian Bale, brought to the role—self-seriousness, bizarre combat edits, a raspy voice, etc. In that regard, The Batman is a slam-dunk.
The Batman follows a Bruce Wayne who is about two years into his crime-fighting journey. The film does a good job portraying a Batman at this early stage in his career without falling into the trappings of the origin story that viewers have seen so many times. For one, throughout the film, Batman’s tactics and gadgets lack polish. Batman struggles to execute his patented glide, and his Batcave is noticeably low-tech. A great sequence throughout the film captures Wayne’s many attempts to gain access to the Iceberg Lounge: he initially does so clumsily by force before figuring out a stealthier way in by the film’s climax.
A common complaint about The Batman is that it does not portray the “traditional” Bruce Wayne, or the billionaire playboy. Robert Pattinson barely cracks a grin for the entire three-hour runtime, and his version of Wayne has none of the charisma that past iterations of the character have. In fact, this Batman movie, more than any other, predominantly features Wayne’s masked alter-ego, and viewers can count the number of “Bruce” scenes on two hands. It was a bold take on Reeves’ part, but it paid off. Bruce Wayne, the playboy, is window-dressing. It is more fitting that the character’s formative years see him ignore everything else in his life as he fights crime. The Batman’s Bruce Wayne is not pretending at any point in the movie; he is Batman 24/7.
The best part of Pattinson’s performance is that he truly imbues it with a clear character arc in mind. This is a movie about how Wayne learns to become the Batman audiences know and love. The voiceover that bookends the film was a little too on-the-nose at points, but it was worth it to show Wayne’s journey from agent of vengeance to genuine hero. Indeed, after all of the film’s violence, it is a perfect touch to have Batman’s final act in the movie be to guide Gotham citizens to safety. Paul Dano’s Riddler, predictably insane, truly believes that Batman is his partner in crime, and audiences can see why. For most of the film, Batman acts as little more than a thug, chasing clues and beating up bad guys.
Take the Batmobile chase sequence, for instance. This Batmobile forsakes sleekness and is instead a ferocious demon of vengeance unto itself. It is a rip-roaring new vision of the iconic vehicle, and it mercilessly succeeds in hunting down Colin Farrell’s Penguin—but Batman only does so because he believes Penguin to be the answer to a riddle.
Dano does a great job imbuing Riddler with both intimidation and desperation. Viewers fear him for being one step ahead of the film’s heroes, yet it is easy to sympathize with his mission, as they can see what the city’s corruption has done to him. At the end of his trail of bruised bodies, the Riddler is genuinely dismayed to discover that Batman is working against him, just as Wayne is dismayed to realize that he has been doing everything Riddler wanted.
This is why the resolution of The Batman works so well. There is a recognition on Wayne’s part that his cycle of vengeance can only get him so far. He realizes that Batman can be something more than he ever intended, more than just an expression of his childhood rage. In several Batman stories, it is said that when Bruce Wayne dreams that he is Batman, he considers the cape and cowl to be more a part of his identity than his daytime appearance. The Batman embraces this lore and uses it to give the character his most complete story to date.
A review of The Batman would not be complete without reference to Zoë Kravitz and Jeffrey Wright as Catwoman and Jim Gordon, respectively. Both are exceptional at playing off Pattinson and nail the tone of the film and the essence of their characters. Kravitz, in particular, harnesses a chemistry and energy that elevates the film every time she is on screen.
The Batman delivers on the anticipation surrounding it and proves that the Batman franchise is in the right hands with Reeves and Pattinson. The runtime, though daunting, is not overlong, and it is a real delight to spend time with Batman in a boldly realized red-black Gotham. More content set in this Gotham, including a sequel, is bound to come, and fans should be excited to watch Reeves build on the tone and cinematography of this installment.
Ironically, the future is bright in Gotham.
Rating: 9/10 stars