My Extraordinary Ordinary Life

About Time is the feel good time travel movie of the 21st century. It’s about time I watched the movie. I’ve been curious to see About Time ever since I stumbled upon the trailer back in 2013. About Time is about one man’s journey to find happiness in his ordinary life. Third time director Richard Curtis is known for sentimental British romance. Domhnall Gleeson is a fitting romantic lead who plays the nervous Tim Lake. Tim has a perfectly loving family that includes his caring father James, mother Mary, confused Uncle Desmond, and fairy-like sister Kit Kat. Bill Nighy plays Tim’s father who very casually tells him all the men in their family can travel back in time.

Unlike most time travel movies, Tim can only go backwards in his own life by clenching his fists in a dark room. Unlike most romantic movies, About Time is refreshingly simple with very little conflict and no forced break ups. Tim just wants to get a girlfriend. So he improves his life similar to a time loop movie if it took place on more than one day. This is technically the earliest I’ve seen Margot Robbie as the first girl Tim fails to romance no matter how many chances he gets. This was also the earliest I’ve seen Vanessa Kirby. Tim eventually uses his power to help people like his jaded playwright flatmate played by Tom Hollander. His play sadly features Richard Griffiths in his final role.

Tim eventually falls for Mary played by the lovely American Rachel McAdams. Every attempt to woo Mary feels earned since they initially felt a connection without the use of time travel. Their relationship is genuine and heartfelt. About Time is honestly one of my new favorite genre-bending movies. Characters are hilarious beginning to end, the soundtrack is smashing, and I was so moved that I ended up crying. The only conflict is Tim realizing time travel can’t fix everything in his life. So he eventually learns from his dad that the key to happiness is appreciating life. About Time is a criminally underrated unconventional love story.

About Time

Tim and Mary as newlyweds

Adam & uǝpƎ

Upside Down is a romance that defies gravity itself. Have you ever seen a trailer to something you never heard of, but knew you had to watch one day? That’s how I felt about Upside Down when I first discovered it. The French Romeo & Juliet style romance with a sci-fi twist is between people from two different worlds… literally! Upside Down takes place on twin planets that are directly above and below one another. Gravity is different on each world and contact is strictly forbidden.

Adam lives in the lower class Down and Eden lives in the upper class Up. Their names are just as on the nose as the movie’s metaphors. Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst have good chemistry as the doomed couple who figure out clever ways to meet in the middle. Dunst is obviously no stranger to upside down kisses. The color palette is a very stylised dark blue with occasional lense flares. The special effects will mess with your head if you don’t get used to them, but they are impressive whenever you see both worlds interact.

Trans-World is a company that employes important people from both worlds. Adam develops a gravity defying anti-aging cream and befriends an American Timothy Spall from Up. Since Eden developed amnesia after their last rendezvous, Adam figures out how to stay Up using inverse matter. All the scientific talk can get confusing if you’re not paying attention. The basic story has been told a million times, but I have to admire Upside Down for taking such a unique storytelling risk.

Upside Down

Adam and Eden kiss upside down

Time is Money

In Time takes the expression “time is money” literally. This is a future where time has become currency, payment is given or accepted from a person’s arm clock, everyone has 1 year to live after they turn 25, the poor live minute by minute, and the rich are practically immortal. In Time is similar to Logan’s Run for having a youthful society. Director Andrew Niccol openly admitted similarities to Gattaca. Both movies have retrofuturistic cars, an unlikely romance, and a protagonist who evades arrest in an effort to disrupt the established order. In Time sounded interesting when I first saw the trailer, but I lost interest after the less than stellar reception.

Justin Timberlake can act, but when he’s not expected to sing, it can be hard to take him seriously as an action star. He plays struggling factory worker Will Salas who lives in the ghetto with his mother. Seeing the very attractive Olivia Wilde as his mother can be a bit jarring the first time. Time Zones separate poor neighborhoods like Dayton from wealthy neighborhoods like New Greenwich. Minutemen are literal time burglars who steal time from the less fortunate. Timekeepers are a police force that operate day to day. Matt Bomer plays the century old Henry Hamilton who willingly gives Will all his time.

Which is what leads Cillian Murphy as an obsessive Timekeeper to hunt him down. Will enjoys his wealth, but it doesn’t last long. He ends up kidnapping the daughter of a wealthy elite with too much time on his hands played by Vincent Kartheiser. Amanda Seyfried is cute as a redhead, but I feel like she’s only around to be eye candy. Sylvia willingly joins Will on a Bonnie & Clyde style crusade to fight the system. Maybe it’s the cheesy dialogue or constant time puns, but In Time doesn’t quite land the way Gattaca did. Nevertheless, In Time was still worth my time for its creative depiction of the future.

In Time

Will and Sylvia go on the run

Genetic Perfection

Gattaca is one of the most realistic depictions of the not too distant future. This is a future where genetic perfection is the most important thing in society. Scientifically engineered “valids” are artificially conceived through eugenics and genetically imperfect “in-valids” are naturally conceived. In his directorial debut, Andrew Niccol created a less than science fiction future that’s almost indistinguishable from our own. I first watched Gattaca in my high school science class, but I had a hard time following the complex premise. It didn’t surprise me to learn it wasn’t a financial success.

Genetic discrimination doesn’t sound exciting, but the older I got, the more fascinating Gattaca became. Ethan Hawke plays the “in-valid” Vincent who has a low life expectancy, but a dream worth rooting for. In order to go to space, Vincent must assume the identity of “valid” wheelchair bound swimmer Jerome. Jude Law makes a strong impression without the use of his legs. Vincent goes to extreme measures using DNA samples from Jerome just to join the Gattaca space program. A murder mystery makes the possibility of Vincent getting caught surprisingly suspenseful.

The impressive cast includes Tony Shalhoub, writer Gore Vidal, Ernest Borgnine, and a very early role for Maya Rudolph. Alan Arkin and Loren Dean play detectives using genetic testing to find the “in-valid” imposter. Vincent is only found out by his younger “valid” brother Anton and his attractive “valid” co-worker Irene. Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman have great chemistry because they actually fell in love on set. Their steamy romance is kept strictly PG-13. Although it feels open ended at times, Gattaca is a smartly written thriller with an inspirational message to defy expectations.

Gattaca

Vincent (aka Jerome) and Irene look up

Welcome to the 23rd Century

Logan’s Run was the most ambitious science fiction film made at the time. Bare in mind this was 1 year before Star Wars dominated the big screen. So their depiction of a futuristic society is a bit more cheesy with a space age soundtrack from Jerry Goldsmith, colorful costumes, and clean sets made from repurposed shopping malls. Logan’s Run is very 70’s, but it was loosely based on a 1967 novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. The movie had a long production run and many changes were made to the book. Logan’s Run is a classic dystopian tale about what seems like a utopian world. In the 23rd Century, a hedonistic society of people live under a dome, but die young at the age of 30.

Everyone has a crystal on their palm indicating how much time they have and a “Carrousel” ceremony tricks people into thinking their life will be renewed. It’s complicated, but the idea of overpopulation and blissful ignorance leaves an undeniable impact. Logan’s Run also made use of levitation, holograms, and wide-angle lenses in a miniature city that earned the movie a Special Achievement Oscar. The cast is small, but Michael York is a suitable conformist turned rebel. Logan 5 is a “Sandman” who terminates people who run from their fate. Jenny Agutter plays a beautiful runner capable of changing his ideology. Logan 5 and Jessica 6 go on the run throughout the city and into an unfamiliar world.

Similar to Planet of the Apes, the real world is overgrown with Peter Ustinov as the last surviving old man. Meanwhile, Richard Jordan tirelessly hunts down the runners as Logan’s former partner Francis 7. Roscoe Lee Browne voices a very unexpected evil robot named Box and rising star Farrah Fawcett gets top-billing as facial stylist Holly 13. Despite the sexual themes, Logan’s Run somehow got away with a PG rating. Despite the fact that all women have sexy revealing outfits and are seen casually naked several times. There’s something to be said about the Free Love mentality, but Logan’s Run can be interpreted many ways. Though there was a short-lived TV series and Marvel comics, I’m surprised a sequel or remake never materialized. Logan’s Run is a product of its time that inspired more than it’s given credit for.

Logan's Run

Logan 5 and Jessica 6

A Whale of a Tale

Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove has nothing to do with the original trilogy. It’s a direct-to-video reboot made 13 years later. Aside from name recognition, there’s no reason to call it Free Willy. I think it was only made to be a starring vehicle for Bindi Irwin, daughter of beloved Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. Escape from Pirate’s Cove is filled with animals other than the titular killer whale.

Willy is now a baby orca who gets separated from his pod. The movie once again sticks to animatronics and lower quality CGI. Kirra is an Australian girl sent to live with her grandpa in South Africa. Normally I’d be against movies like this, but Bindi is as much of a star as her late father. Kirra’s bond with Willy feels like the best way to carry on his legacy. Of course it helps to have veteran actor Beau Bridges in it.

I can respect the reboot for not just repeating what made the original movie so good. Willy becomes the star attraction at a pirate themed amusement park and a competing park owner is the greedy businessman. Kirra enlists the help of her reluctant grandpa, his park assistant, and an African boy to free Willy. There’s no big jump, just Willy being returned to his pod. Though I’m not sure the sentiment works as well after the failure to rehabilitate Keiko. Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove kept a family tradition alive.

Free Willy Escape form Pirate's Cove

Kirra says goodbye to Willy

Reboot of: Free Willy

The Whalers

Free Willy 3: The Rescue ends the unnecessary trilogy of the freed killer whale. It was dedicated to the real life rehabilitation of Keiko, but the famous orca died not long after his release. Although it was a noble cause, I don’t think anyone was asking for another Free Willy movie every 2 years. The quality began to dip with each passing entry. I can appreciate the animatronics, but Free Willy 3 feels cheap compared to the other movies. They couldn’t even afford a new Michael Jackson song.

Jason James Richter and August Schellenberg are the only returning cast members. The parents don’t appear and neither does Jesse’s half-brother from the second movie. Jesse is now working with Randolph on a research boat. Annie Corley is an unlikable researcher who fills the role of previous female companions. Since Jesse is now 16, child actor Vincent Berry represents the target demographic. Max is another bland kid who can’t compare to the original.

Willy finds a mate, but his pod is now threatened by whalers. Free Willy 3 makes the misguided decision to focus mostly on the bad guys. Rather than the usual greedy businessman, Patrick Kilpatrick is a single-minded whaler who hunts the orcas like Moby Dick. Since Max is the whaler’s son, most of the sequel is about him trying to change his father’s perspective. The life and death story wasn’t enough to keep the movie from tanking at the box-office. Free Willy 3 is all out of fresh ideas.

Free Willy 3

Jesse helps Willy

Preceded by: Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home

Save the Whales

Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home continues the story of the titular killer whale. Despite the fact that Willy has already been freed, Free Willy was a big enough success to spawn a franchise. Similar to the Jaws franchise, except there was also an animated series between the first and second movie. Free Willy 2 picks up with an older teenage Jesse who’s been officially adopted by the Greenwoods. Jason James Richter returns alongside most of the original cast. August Schellenberg, Michael Madsen, and Jayne Atkinson have expanded roles, but Lori Petty was busy swimming around a very different tank (girl).

Mykelti Williamson is mostly a glorified cameo who introduces a younger brother into the movie. Francis Capra plays Jesse’s annoying half-brother Elvis who essentially serves the same purpose Jesse once did. Though his connection to their late mother does bring some heart into the unnecessary sequel. Free Willy 2 does have the same effort put into it. Along with another less memorable Michael Jackson song called “Childhood.” Since Keiko was in the process of being freed, Willy is entirely animatronic along with his orca family Luna and Littlespot.

Jesse reconnects with Willy on a camping trip. Mary Kate Schellhardt plays Jesse’s girl Nadine that he impresses with his knowledge. Conflict only arrives when a carless company causes an oil spill. Without Petty, Elizabeth Peña plays a different well-meaning whale doctor. Jon Tenney is the new greedy businessman and M. Emmet Walsh is a whaler who seek to profit off the orcas. Willy and his pod evade captivitivity, but it’s not as satisfying as his first big jump. So they add an oil fire just to build tension. Free Willy 2 is mostly an excuse to catch up with our whale friend.

Free Willy 2

Jesse meets Willy’s family

Preceded by: Free Willy & Followed by: Free Willy 3: The Rescue

A Boy and his Whale

Free Willy did for killer whales what Jaws did for sharks. There isn’t a single 90’s kid who doesn’t know the iconic image of a whale leaping over a boy. Free Willy is a quintessential animal movie, but I surprisingly never watched it when I was younger. Only Simpsons parodies and other media references. Since I already knew the ending, I guess I didn’t feel the need to watch the movie. Even though a movie called Free Willy has an obvious outcome, I needed to see everything in context. Free Willy has a lot of effort put into it for a family film. It’s nearly 2 hours with widescreen, Lauren Shuler Donner as producer, and an original song from Michael Jackson. “Will You Be There” is a sincere anthem that supports the film’s environmental message.

Willy is an orca ripped away from his pod and held in captivity at the Northwest Adventure Park (an obvious stand in for Sea World). Jesse is a troublemaking orphan who ends up working at the park as punishment for graffiti. Jesse and Willy are two lonely creatures who form a touching bond. Newcomer Jason James Richter is as good as the rest of the impressive cast. Jayne Atkinson and a less intimidating Michael Madsen are Jesse’s foster parents who attempt to connect with him. Before he was Bubba, Mykelti Williamson was Jesse’s well meaning social worker. Since it’s a 90’s movie, August Schellenberg is Jesse’s wise Native American mentor. Lori Petty continues her winning streak as a park trainer who helps Jesse train Willy to do tricks.

Even future screenwriter Michael Bacall and Halloween “scream queen” Danielle Harris have a small part in the movie. Richard Riehle and a non-Military Michael Ironside are greedy businessmen who seek to profit off Willy. When the killer whale grows increasingly homesick, they finally decide to free Willy. Seeing the big jump was more emotional than I was expecting. Willy is part animatronic, part orca actor Keiko. It’s honestly hard to tell the difference, especially when the final scene uses CGI. Free Willy was a major success that led to the real life release of Keiko into the wild. Sadly, Keiko didn’t have the happy ending that Willy had. Nevertheless, Free Willy is an inspiring whale tale.

Free Willy

Willy leaps over Jesse

Followed by: Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home

I’m Vengeance

The Batman is the darkest the Dark Knight has ever been. No superhero has had more adaptations than Batman. There’s practically a new incarnation every decade. It seems excessive, but The Batman has a very complicated production history. The Batman was originally meant to be a solo film written, directed, and starring Ben Affleck in the DCEU. Despite only appearing in lackluster team-up movies, Affleck proved himself as a worthy Dark Knight. The Batman was meant to take place primarily in Arkham Asylum with Batman battling Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke. Though it sounded like a cool and unique Batman movie, Affleck eventually decided to step down as director. Warner Bros. sought an “auteur” who could bring something different to the Caped Crusader. Matt Reeves was only supposed to replace Affleck as director, but the entire movie changed the moment he was hired. Including a more psychological tone and a younger inexperienced Dark Knight.

So the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman was recast for the 7th time in live action. Which of course meant another controversial actor in the lead role. Between Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck, it’s practically tradition at this point. Robert Pattinson sounded like a joke the moment he was announced, but like so many people I couldn’t separate him from his Twilight image. Even though Pattinson has proven himself in more independent arthouse films, he’s not above returning to another major blockbuster. Playing a bat was a natural progression after playing a vampire. Just about everyone wanted to know how The Batman would turn out, but the movie was delayed so many times thanks to the Pandemic. Production was suspended 2 months into filming and Pattinson tested positive 3 days after resuming. Although The Batman was moved from 2021 to 2022, DC managed to piece together a teaser 1 year and 6 months before its release. The dark and gritty teaser proved The Batman was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before…

16. The Batman

Batman confronts Catwoman

The Batman is currently the second longest theatrical superhero movie. It’s a bat-epic with a daunting 2 hour & 56 minute runtime. There were so few cuts, because Matt Reeves is a very meticulous director. Compared to the equally lengthy Zack Snyder’s Justice League or Avengers: Endgame, The Batman wasn’t about a team of superheroes. Batman is on his own for the first time since The Dark Knight Rises. Reeves thought about setting The Batman in the DCEU, but the realistic feel doesn’t entirely fit a world full of superheroes. It’s almost like every Batman reboot gets darker and darker. Adam West’s Batman and Joel Schumacher’s Batman are the only exceptions. Tim Burton’s Batman was gothic, but still fun. Christopher Nolan’s Batman was darker and more grounded. DCEU’s Batman was more brutal and brooding until he softened up. On most nights Gotham City is practically pitch black with constant rain and rampant crime. You’d think the persistent darkness would be too much, but The Batman is surprisingly well-lit.

I don’t normally mention cinematographers, but Greg Fraser manages to find the beauty in a corrupt city like Gotham. Using red for the title and poster was another unique choice that set the movie apart from other Batman films. My parents aren’t a big fan of excessively dark movies, but I convinced them to see The Batman with my brother and I. In the case of Joker or Birds of Prey, it was the R rating that kept us from seeing them as a family. Despite frequently challenging the MPAA, there’s never been an R rated standalone Batman movie no matter how intense they get. I knew The Batman would be PG-13 the moment they made toys and LEGO sets. Although children love Batman, I’m not sure how I feel about kids seeing the movie. The Batman is very gritty with an F bomb, drugs, severed body parts, domestic terrorism, voyeurism, and other heavy themes. Reeves was inspired by R rated crime thrillers like Taxi Driver and Zodiac. Along with elements from popular Batman comics like The Long Halloween and “Year One.”

It may not be an ensemble, but The Batman does manage to weave Catwoman, The Riddler, The Penguin, and Carmine Falcone into the story. Batman’s reputation as the World’s Greatest Detective is given a lot more attention than usual. As a superhero movie, The Batman has the most in common with The Dark Knight trilogy, yet it can just as easily be a noir mystery. Batman has the best rogue’s gallery in DC comics, but the main villain that made the most sense was the Riddler. The Riddler is one of the most well known Batman villains known for using riddles and puzzles as a weapon. Frank Gorshin, John Astin, and Jim Carrey treated the Riddler like a joke, but Cory Michael Smith showed how threatening Edward Nygma could be in Gotham. This version uses the comic accurate birth name Edward Nashton and was inspired by the Zodiac Killer. Although comedian Jonah Hill was considered for either the Riddler or the Penguin, Paul Dano is an underrated actor that people tend to underestimate. The Riddler is clearly insane, but you’re genuinely afraid of what he’ll do next. Dano wears glasses like the Zodiac Killer, but his face is mostly concealed until the end.

Unlike the comics, the Riddler wears a dark green coat with a single question mark and a combat mask over his glasses. The Batman opens like a horror movie with the Riddler watching Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. from a distance before horrifically beating him with a tool and taping his face shut. The neo noir approach was the perfect excuse to use narration for the first time in a Batman movie. The young Bruce Wayne has been Batman for 2 years. Everyone knows his origin, so there’s no reason to once again show Thomas and Martha Wayne being shot. Not that it isn’t a driving force for the movie. The Batman is unique for being the first live action movie to have more Batman than Bruce Wayne. It’s more strange to see Robert Pattinson out of the batsuit than it is to see him in it. Pattinson got into superhero shape, but he’s not as jacked as Ben Affleck. The batsuit is more tactical with dark grey armor, gauntlets, a traditional cape, sleek cowl with longer ears, a black utility belt, and a bat-symbol that doubles as a batarang.

Every live action Batman needed to wear eyeliner, but Pattinson is the first one to keep it on when the mask comes off. I won’t argue that Pattinson is an emo Bruce Wayne, but turning him into a reclusive billionaire makes sense for this portrayal. Since he was inspired by troubled singer Kurt Cobain, the song “Something in the Way” by Nirvana is used in the trailer and movie. Bruce conceals his identity even when he isn’t Batman just to scope out crime. The bat-signal is a warning that strikes fear into the criminals of Gotham who think he might be hiding in the shadows. Including a gang of street punks wearing clown makeup. The conflicted gang member with half makeup is played by Jay Lycurgo who ironically ended up playing Tim Drake/Robin in Titans. Although slowly emerging from the shadows, Batman isn’t trying to hide. The “The” part of the title refers to Batman’s larger than life reputation. There have been so many great Batman themes, but Michael Giacchino blew everyone away with his epic score.

The first unlucky criminal gets a brutal well choreographed beatdown reminiscent of the Arkham Asylum video games. It was that shocking moment in the teaser that I knew I could accept Pattinson as Batman. Christian Bale and his Tenet director Christopher Nolan both gave their seal of approval. You expect him to say “I’m Batman,” but instead he says “I’m vengeance.” A reference to the famous Kevin Conroy monologue from Batman: The Animated Series. Pattinson’s bat-voice is deep and mysterious, but he’s more expressive with his eyes and teeth. Batman has his traditional grapple gun along with a very interesting new gadget that allows him to record his nights with high tech contact lenses. I’m not sure that will ever be a reality, but it’s useful for Batman’s detective work. Like The Long Halloween, Batman is called in to investigate the first victim on Halloween night. Current GCPD Commissioner Pete Savage taunts Batman by telling him “Happy f***ing Halloween.” Although the police question allowing a vigilante into a crime scene, Lieutenant James Gordon trusts him. Jeffrey Wright was a surprisingly good fit for Gordon. As long as he has glasses and a mustache, I didn’t care that he was race changed.

Similar to Batman Forever, the Riddler sends Batman riddles and ciphers that he tries to solve with Alfred’s help. Wayne Manor is more like a spooky castle that Bruce barely has time to live in. He spends most of his time working in the Batcave. This version of the Batcave is another underground railroad with bats and a work area for the batcomputer. After his limited role in the MCU, Andy Serkis continued to show his face in another superhero movie. His take on Alfred Pennyworth is a war veteran turned butler who attempts to maintain the Wayne family legacy. Bruce is distant with Alfred and doesn’t care about his wealth. Being Batman is treated like an addiction that helps Bruce cope with his parent’s death. The first clue leads Batman and Gordon to find a thumb drive with the Mayor’s severed thumb attached. This may be the darkest Batman movie yet, but it does have an equally dark sense of humor. The drive contains blackmail photos of the Mayor with a woman at the Iceberg Lounge. The comic accurate nightclub is operated by the Penguin. Batman knocks on the front door and ends up beating up several security guards (including one with a bat) until he gets to Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot.

The Penguin is another top tier Batman villain known for his penguin-like features and classy appearance. Burgess Meredith, Danny DeVito, and Robin Lord Taylor all managed to capture a different side of the Penguin. After playing Bullseye 19 years ago, Colin Farrell is completely unrecognizable under impressive penguin-like makeup. He wears a purple suit with a bowtie, but no over-the-top monocle, top hat, or umbrella weapon. The Penguin has never had a clearly defined voice, but Farrell sounds like an exaggerated Italian American gangster. He’s a minor antagonist that people underestimate. When he fails to give any useful information, Batman gets answers from seductive waitress Selina Kyle. Although Batman has had many love interests, nothing can beat Catwoman. The Feline Fatale has been recast almost as much times as the Caped Crusader. Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway, and Camren Bicondova have all worn the catsuit in live action. After her small role in X-Men: First Class, Zoë Kravitz voiced Catwoman in The LEGO Batman Movie.

Since Catwoman has been black several times before, I didn’t mind her race change either. She was the first Selina Kyle to finally have a comic accurate pixie cut. Kravitz is a purrfect Catwoman who manages to be mysterious, flirtatious, and morally grey. Selina has a lot of cats and lives with her “strictly platonic” roommate Annika. Bruce spies on her while she’s changing into her catsuit. Catwoman has the same sexy black catsuit, but her nose covering cloth mask is underwhelming to say the least. She doesn’t have claws, but she does have a whip that’s never used. Her cat burglar skills come in handy when attempting to crack a safe. The Bat and the Cat meet when they have a close quarters fight. Kravitz is aggressive yet feminine at the same time. Selina reluctantly partners with Batman in order to save Annika when she’s kidnapped. Though Bruce never shares a scene with Selina, Pattinson and Kravitz have a lot of sexual tension that makes their romance work. Batman has Selina infiltrate the Iceberg Lounge using the contact lenses to collect information.

They discover a bunch of corrupt cops and political officials high on a fictional drug called drops. The only one who gets top-billing is Peter Sarsgaard as current district attorney Gil Colson. Selina loses focus when Annika is mentioned and she runs into Carmine Falcone. Along with Salvatore Maroni, Carmine Falcone is the biggest mob boss in DC comics. He’s a realistic villain that’s been portrayed only two times before in Batman Begins and Gotham. Falcone is basically John Turturro with a mustache, but his eyes are constantly obscured by vintage sunglasses. Turturro’s cold delivery makes Falcone even more menacing. Falcone has most of the city on his payroll including the district attorney who ends up being the Riddler’s next victim after the Commissioner is killed in a livestream. Bruce makes a rare public appearance at the Mayor’s funeral where he’s confronted by potential candidate Bella Reál who asks him to do more with his money. Although it’s obvious what they’re trying to do with Reál, the political commentary is subtle. Bruce saves a kid who may or may not be Robin and suits up when Gil Colson arrives with a bomb strapped to his neck. Batman and the Riddler talk for the first time when the latter plays a game of riddles over another livestream.

SPOILER ALERT! You think Colson will make it out alive, but the bomb goes off right in front of Batman who somehow survives. The unconscious Batman is taken to GCPD where he has a heated confrontation with everyone who isn’t Gordon. They create a diversion in order for him to escape on a rooftop. My personal favorite moment is Batman donning a flight suit and flying across Gotham City. He somehow survives a crash landing and relays the rest of what he knows to Gordon. The Riddler’s cipher refers to “El Rata Alada” (The Rat with Wings), which refers to a mystery informant responsible for a drug bust that put Maroni away. The first suspect is the Penguin, but Catwoman returns only to blow their cover once she finds Annika dead. It leads to an exhilarating car chase between Batman and the Penguin. Although Batman is mostly seen riding a batcycle, nothing beats hearing the Batmobile’s engine roaring in the rain. This version of the Batmobile is more like a simple muscle car with the classic rocket booster. The Batman doesn’t look like it has a lot of special effects, but the rain is all CGI.

The chase may be a little hard to follow, but Batman manages to intercept the Penguin on a highway with an awesome upside down shot of the Dark Knight. Batman and Gordon take the Penguin to an abandoned location where he helps them decipher a code that allows them to talk to the Riddler over a secure computer server. The next clue leads them to the abandoned orphanage. A handcuffed Penguin waddling like an actual penguin is another good bit of comedy. At the Wayne funded orphanage, Batman discovers the Riddler’s next victim is Bruce Wayne himself. A panicked Bruce attempts to warn Alfred, but he’s too late to stop a letter bomb from going off. I was so afraid they would kill off Alfred since the movie has been so different up to this point. Luckily Alfred is recovering in the hospital, but Bruce is left to solve the Riddler’s riddles on his own. Selina seeks Batman’s help to find Annika’s killer on a rooftop where she reveals Falcone to be her father. The reveal is ripped straight out of The Long Halloween. Selina considers the wealthy Wayne family to be just as guilty as the rest of Gotham’s elite. Ironically, Batman and Catwoman share their first kiss soon after.

What follows is the longest sequence with Bruce Wayne outside of the batsuit. He discovers a report where the Riddler exposes Thomas Wayne’s attempt to threaten a journalist who wrote a story about Martha having a mental illness. This time it’s a disheveled Bruce who knocks on the front door of the Iceberg Lounge in order to find answers. Another similarity to The Long Halloween is Falcone having his life saved by Thomas Wayne when Bruce was a child. He confirms that he was the one who had the journalist killed, but Alfred affirms Bruce that his father was an honest man. Bruce and Alfred reconcile in the hospital where the former accepts him as a father figure. Batman returns when Catwoman threatens the cop who had Annika in his trunk. She attempts to kill him and Falcone after jumping off the roof. Batman follows her after he and Gordon realize “El Rata Alada” is referring to Falcone. Falcone brutally strangling Annika is leaked and Selina nearly kills her father to avenge her mother. Batman taking heavy gunfire before stopping Selina is another badass moment. The Riddler’s clue about bringing the rat into the light literally means bringing Falcone into his line of sight where he’s shot from a building.

Edward Nashton is finally revealed in a coffee shop where he’s arrested by GCPD. They learn more about him at his hideout where they discover one final clue. Nothing can top the interrogation scene in The Dark Knight, but Batman interrogating the Riddler is a close second. Since he isn’t a physical threat, Dano has to be intimidating with just his words. Nashton saying the name Bruce Wayne is chilling even though he doesn’t know Batman’s identity. His motivation is destain for the Wayne’s who left him suffering in an orphanage. Batman ironically inspired his crusade by using a little focused violence on the criminals of Gotham. It’s at this point that I started to question the runtime when Batman returns to Nashton’s hideout looking for more clues about his ultimate goal. It takes a random cop to identify the Riddler’s weapon from earlier as a carpet tool that he uses to find his plan underneath. Turns out the Riddler used an army of online followers to plant explosives around Gotham in hopes of flooding the city. The Batman has been pretty subtle up to this point, but a giant flood is exactly the kind of bombastic comic book climax I was expecting. The inspiration came from the 2013-2014 comic series “Zero Year.”

Mayor Reál is shot from a vantage point by Riddler minions at a flooding stage where Batman strategically takes out every goon. When he’s overwhelmed, Batman takes out his aggression using a shot of adrenaline. Gordon and Selina manage to hold him back, but it’s one of the minions saying “I’m vengeance” that really affects him. Batman choosing to become a symbol of hope instead of vengeance was inspired by the 2000 comic Ego. It’s a heroic moment where Batman saves Gotham citizens from the drowning water. The flooded Gotham is under martial law with the Penguin looking to seize control. I’m sure we’ll find out more in his HBO Max spin-off series. Batman embracing the city would’ve been a triumphant note to end the movie on, but we still have 2 additional scenes that could’ve been after-credits. The Riddler is locked up in Arkham Asylum where he’s greeted by a laughing inmate who wants to be his friend. I just knew DC couldn’t resist teasing another version of the Joker. Despite already having a role in Eternals, I had a feeling that’s who Barry Keoghan was playing.

His Joker laugh is silly, but his obscured face may be a little too horrifying. There was originally a Silence of the Lambs style deleted scene where Batman visits the Joker in Arkham seeking his criminal insight. The Joker is hideously scarred with a creepy permanent smile. Since they already have history, I’m not sure what they’ll do with the Joker in the future. The final scene shows the Bat and the Cat saying goodbye as Selina decides to runaway to Blüdhaven. They share one last kiss and go their separate ways on motorcycles. The Batman may be long, but it’s worth every minute. I don’t care how many Gotham based movies or shows they make without Batman, nothing beats seeing the Dark Knight in action. The Dark Knight is still my favorite Batman movie, but The Batman comes awfully close to replicating its praise. I hope the planned trilogy can maintain the quality of The Dark Knight trilogy. I would be fine if Robert Pattinson’s Batman joined James Gunn’s DCU, but I’d be just as happy if The Batman remained a solid standalone detective story.

17. The Batman

Batman confronts the Penguin