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The Batman is the New Gold Standard of Filmmaking.

A New Batman for a New Generation:

The Batman is a film that I had on my watchlist for a very long time. Ever since The Batman’s initial test footage released back in 2020, I knew that director Matt Reeves and DC were crafting something special within the Batman mythos, something dark, violent and gritty.

The Batman’s trailers promised that the film would be something completely different and would bring something new to Batman’s cinematic identity, an identify that had been in filmic turmoil ever since the cinematic debacle known as 2017’s Justice League. The Batman also promised to take the superhero genre as a whole to new heights.

And after an excruciating 2-year wait and audience’s beginning to show superhero fatigue, The Batman would officially release to cinemas worldwide on March 4, 2022.

The Batman would not only open with widespread critical acclaim across the filmmaking world, but it would also provide a breath of fresh air to the superhero genre as a whole.

The Batman in my opinion is the perfect mixture of grit, action, noir, mystery, and thriller all tied together in a 2-hour and 50-minute package which is endlessly entertaining, engaging and thought-provoking.

Matt Reeve’s, The Batman, is a visceral, cinematic masterpiece, which has set the new gold standard for superhero filmmaking. The Batman is a film that not only breaks the mould when it comes to how we interpret/discuss modern superhero cinema but also, how much a film can invest its audience within it’s story, emotion and presented world.

A More Abrasive Batman Story:

“When that light hits the sky…it’s not just a call. It’s a warning…to them”

Taking cues from David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’ and Roman Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’. The Batman isn’t your typical superhero story that relies on flashy action, characters, and jokey dialogue. Instead, The Batman takes a more methodical approach to the superhero genre.

The film takes its time to delve deep into each character’s thoughts and motives. Each element of The Batman’s narrative feels fully fleshed out and developed from introduction to conclusion, leaving the audience overall satisfied with the product.

The Batman’s narrative begins two years into Bruce Wayne’s career as Batman, stalking the decrepit streets and rat-infested alleyways of Gotham City which has been overrun with crime, gang violence and murder due to crime bosses like Carmine Falcone and Salvatore Maroni.

Matt Reeve’s incarnation of Bruce Wayne (as portrayed by Robert Patterson) is shown to be still traumatised by the murder of his parents. In the two years, Bruce has been patrolling the streets of Gotham, he has become consumed by rage, obsessed with becoming the embodiment of fear within the criminals of Gotham.

This obsession has caused Bruce to become a recluse, pushing away his only family, Alfred (portrayed by Andy Serkis) and distancing himself from his distinguished Wayne family name in order to allow his true self, The Batman, to fully become the personification of vengeance and finally uproot the criminal underbelly of Gotham City. The same criminal underbelly that took Bruce’s parents away from him.

It is clear that in Matt Reeve’s interpretation of the character, Batman isn’t the alter-ego of Bruce Wayne, but instead, Bruce Wayne is the alter-ego of The Batman. Bruce Wayne in the film, only serves as camouflage, a tool in Batman’s wide arsenal in order access information that The Batman typically wouldn’t be able to attain.

Meanwhile, the Batman is seen as a mythologic entity within the eyes of both criminals and citizens of Gotham, a ruthless, one-man army fighting against terror and striking fear into anyone who comes face to face with the mythical creature of the night.

During the opening of the film, it is revealed that Bruce has also created an unlikely alliance with GCPD Lieutenant James Gordon (portrayed by Jeffrey Wright). An alliance formed not only on mutual respect but also, formed over the desperation and the hope of finally driving the corruption out of Gotham, one broken limb at a time.

While investigating the mysterious murder of several high-ranking Gotham officials, the Batman and Lieutenant Gordon would begin to uncover several cryptic letters addressed; “TO THE BATMAN”.

The originator of these letters would be revealed as the cold, calculating, Zodiac-like killer, The Riddler (portrayed by Paul Dano). This discovery would unknowingly swallow Bruce Wayne whole, throwing him down a spiral of criminal conspiracy, family corruption, high-level murder, and uncovering the true actual effect that The Batman is having on Gotham City.

Along Bruce’s chase for The Riddler, he would also cross paths with the likes of Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman, Collin Farrell’s Penguin and, John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone. Each one of these characters serving a crucial part in the wider conflict between The Batman and Riddler, whether they wanted to or not.

The story that Matt Reeves and Peter Craig presents to the audience is one that pulls no punches. Every character, subplot and action within the film is given plenty of time to flourish under the film’s almost three-hour runtime, and every single element that Matt Reeves and Peter Craig place within the narrative of The Batman serves its purpose.

The film is endlessly engaging and its dark noir-thriller take on the superhero genre is something that audiences haven’t seen since Batman’s previous solo outing; The Dark Knight Rises (2012), 10 years ago.

The story is so meticulously crafted that every element within the film has weight and only serves to add emotion to the film’s narrative.

The Batman’s Cinematography and Atmosphere:

The Batman’s cinematography and atmosphere accentuates the dark and gritty world which is presented to the audience. Cinematographer, Greig Fraser, who is notable for his work on Foxcatcher (2014), Last Ride (2009) and Dune Part 1 (2021), uses both camera and lighting to create a visual feast for the eyes, that harkens back to the noir films of the ’40s and ’50s.

Every shot in The Batman feels dark and cold because Fraser utilises heavy amounts of shadow and contrast. This consistent shadow mixed with the desaturated blue rain, the orange hew of Gotham city and the ever-present darkness that creeps its way into every shot, combines together to create a visual symphony that allows the film to look just that bit more grimy and akin to films produced by Alfred Hitchcock.

Greig Fraser’s cinematography shines brightly throughout The Batman, each frame bleeds character and uniqueness. Greig Fraser’s use of the ARRI ALFA anamorphic lenses creates a focal point in the centre of each frame. This choice of lens also created a severe falloff of resolution with the edges of the frame. This creates the effect that the audience is watching the film layout through a fish eye lens and gives The Batman a truly unique look.

The Batman is a masterclass in both cinematography and atmosphere, Greig Fraser’s use of Mise En Scene, lighting and ARRI ALFA anamorphic lense creates a visually stunning and unique piece of cinema with has the potential to inspire a new generation of cinematographers for years to come.

Not Your Typical Superhero Film:

The Batman feels unique when viewed in the same light as other superhero films that have been released in 2022. While the recent slate has begun to feel similar and generally formulaic over the last couple of years, The Batman differentiates itself from the norm of flashy action and jokey dialogue.

Instead of presenting The Batman as an MCU copycat (which has been the trend for most superhero films of recently), Director Matt Reeve’s instead opted to present a story that is more akin to the pulp noir films that dominated the box office almost a century ago. Instead of a fun, light-hearted, family-friendly superhero film that is appropriate for all ages, The Batman instead replaces everything audiences have come to expect from a superhero film with grit, grime and mature themes.

The Batman is through and through a slow-burn detective story that prioritizes’ s characters and story, over flashy CGI fights and comic relief. The film is cold, dark and violent, its characters are mature and given time to breathe over the film’s 2 hours and 50-minute run time. The film’s action is brutal and given weight by the character’s established beliefs and values clashing against one another.

The Batman feels like the breath of fresh air that the superhero genre needed after Avengers: Endgame. The film feels fresh and brings a lot to the table in terms of storytelling, character exploration and, how to tell a new, intriguing story with old, iconic characters that have been around for generations.

Conclusion:

The Batman has raised the stakes when it comes to creating a compelling superhero drama. Matt Reeve and the entire production team have shown that innovation within the superhero genre is still possible and that not every superhero film has to follow in the footsteps of the MCU.

The Batman exceeds in telling an interwoven, complex story with characters audiences are already familiar with.

Greig Fraser’s use of the ARRI ALFA anamorphic lenses is a serious game changer in the realm of cinematography, the unorthodox use of these lenses grounds The Batman’s story in realism and creates an effect that general moviegoers have never seen before.

The Batman is one of the greatest films that I have ever seen, and I truly believe that this film has reinvented what moviegoers should consider to be quality superhero films. Not a flashy, high-budget mess of CGI and comedy, but, a meticulously crafted narrative that engages the audience not just through its story and characters, but also through its cinematography, world-building and use of Mise-En-Scene.

That’s what sets The Batman apart from the rest, that is what The Batman is the New Gold Standard of Filmmaking.

By Michael Qualischefski.

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Why Blade Runner 2049 is the Greatest Sequel you have NEVER seen before.

A follow-up to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was always a point of discussion and contention within the sci-fi community during the late 80s and 90s. With people wondering what happened to characters like Deckard and Rachael after the final credits rolled? How would Ridley Scott add to the Blade Runner continuity with a sequel? And, whether or not it was necessary at all to make a sequel to the cult classic?

And while the narrative did continue within the novelization version of Blade Runner, penned by K. W. Jeter (which ran for 4 books), a definitive cinematic sequel to Blade Runner would remain in development hell for decades to follow.

It wouldn’t be until director Dennis Villeneuve, notable for his work on Sicario (2014), Arrival (2015) and Dune Part 1 (2021), would enter the project. After a few more years in development, a sequel to Blade Runner, titled Blade Runner 2049 would be released to the public in 2017.

Despite its critical reception from both audiences and critics alike being extremely positive, the film was considered by Warner Bros as a box office failure, only raking in $259.3 million at the box office on a $185 million budget.

However, despite Blade Runner 2049 not being a financial hit. Many filmmakers, including myself, consider the film to be one of the greatest sequels of all time, not only due to its thought-provoking plot, immersive themes and its masterclass in cinematography and visual storytelling. but also, through the film’s respect and consideration of the 1982 original film’s themes and message of; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

This is why many filmmakers consider Blade Runner 2049 to be one of the greatest sequels general moviegoers have never seen before, and here’s why.

Blade Runner 2049’s Plot

The plot of Blade Runner 2049 takes place 30 years after the original. Here, the audience is introduced to K (played by Ryan Gosling). K is a Blade Runner for the LAPD, acting as judge, jury, and executioner for replicants who need to be “retired”. It’s revealed to the audience that K is also a replicant, hunting his own kind so he may stay alive for a few years longer in the post-apocalyptic world of Blade Runner. However, when K discovers that a replicant named Rachael (the same Rachael from the first Blade Runner film) possibly gave birth to a replicant child with Deckard, K’s life and his journey are sent spiralling down the rabbit hole of truth. K is forced to come to terms with the sins of his past and consider whether or not he, himself is a replicant or a human. K’s journey of self-discovery would lead him to meet Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) and the two must band together to find the replicant child before it’s discovered by other replicants and instigates a war between humanity and replicants.

While I don’t want to spoil anything about the film and implore you to watch the movie yourself, it cannot be understated just how impactful the film is when it comes to portraying K’s journey of self-discovery. K is a ruthless, cold, and calculating Blade Runner at the beginning of the film, however, when his journey leads him down a rabbit hole of self-actualization and reality-breaking revelations, we are shown a broken, determined man fixated on nothing but uncovering the truth.

The film’s execution when it comes to the presentation of themes like identity, destiny and what it means to be alive is handled in a way that is not only subtle, but also is the focal driving point of the whole story. Never deviating away in order to service an unnecessary sub-plot. This, in turn, makes the film’s plot feel more focused and sharp, compared to a messy branch of sub-plots that ultimately never go anywhere and serve to only overcomplicate a story of this magnitude and importance.

Blade Runner 2049’s Cinematography

The cinematography of Blade Runner is something that is always been a major selling point for the film and even won the film an Academy Award back in 2018. The film’s cinematographer, Sir Roger Alexander Deakin (notable for The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men and, 1917) employed a single-camera set-up for the film. While this technique of cinematography is seen today as a relic of old filmmaking, in Blade Runner 2049’s case, this single-camera set-up only serves to straighten the creative vision for the film and strengthen what is ultimately chosen to be shown on screen and to the audience in the films final cut.

Each shot of Blade Runner 2049 feels important, needed, and symbiotic in telling this cohesive story. Every shot feels cold, dark, and dreary to match the films post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk aesthetic. Sir Roger Alexander Deakin uses each frame and shot to tell a story, no space on the screen is wasted or unutilized, which in turn makes the world feel more alive than ever for the audience.

Whether the camera is flying with K through the neon-soaked streets of 2049 Los Angeles, following K through the orange wastelands of future Las Vegas or, the bleak factories of future San Diego. Each shot, scene and cinematic angle has its own unique story, voice, and character. No shot in Blade Runner 2049 is wasted and every second of screen time only serves to further the plot that plays out on film.  

Blade Runner 2049’s Voice

As previously touched on in the plot breakdown of the film, Blade Runner 2049’s themes of identity and destiny are given great gravitas throughout the 2-hour and 43-minute runtime of the film. K’s journey of self-discovery and metaphorical rebirth from a ruthless, soulless replicant to a human who feels compassion and pain for the ones he’s lost, feels natural and purposeful by the filmmakers.

The film does an excellent job of giving K’s story ample time to breathe and develop when compared to other Hollywood blockbusters, K’s relationships with his holographic girlfriend JOI, his friendship with Deckard and his battle against fellow replicant / Blade Runner, Luv, all feel natural and fleshed out by the end of the film.

The idea of what it means to be alive is a question that the Blade Runner series was built upon. And this idea of what it means to be alive is epitomized by K’s journey of self-discovery and destiny throughout the film. With Blade Runner 2049’s presentation of a replicant who can feel emotions (K) to its audience, the film openly challenges its audience to reevaluate their ideas and values when it comes to the definition of what it means to be alive/human.

That’s what makes Blade Runner 2049 the greatest sequel you have never seen before.

Conclusion

While Blade Runner 2049 may not have been the box office success many studio executives at Warner Bros were hoping it would be. Blade Runner 2049 in recent years has started to be recognized by filmmakers alike as one of the most impressive pieces of cinema to be released in recent memory. Every second of this film is purposeful and engaging, its cinematography and portrayal of K’s journey is both breathtaking and gorgeous in every way possible, the film showcases just how engaging both Dennis Villeneuve can be as a director and the world of Blade Runner can be when in the right hands.

And while the general movie-going audience wasn’t interested in watching this film back in 2017, I strongly encourage each reader of this article to put Blade Runner 2049 on their watchlist in order to truly experience what they missed out on 6 years ago.

That’s why Blade Runner 2049 is the greatest sequel you have never seen before.