Handsome Man Disguises Self as Penguin
Ok here’s the deal everybody, I saw this movie already in the theater, it is several hours long, there was no way in hell I was doing that again so no, I absolutely did not watch this entire movie or even close to it, but I did once, a couple years ago, and I watched CF’s performance IN FULL, and I have prepared some remarks.
Here are some things I have a hard time getting riveted by in movies: car chases; explosions; swords; fights on the edge of a high structure; “well-directed action sequences,” I hear people talk about these and I honestly have no idea what it means or what makes it different than poorly directed ones; big shootout gun fights; I know I already said car chases, but cars in general — like check out these cool cars zipping around and going upside-down stuff, not like some teens uncomfortably losing their virginity in a car in a gritty but heartwarming coming of age tale or a lady being followed late at night on an empty road by the Zodiac killer or Ladybird jumping out of her mom’s car, those are all fine; and honestly, people acting dead-ass serious about adults in costumes flying around. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry! I’m really really sorry that I find all of these things kind of boring, but I have come clean with my biases so you know where I’m coming from when I watch a nine hour epic about a sad rich guy who likes to dress up as a bat at nighttime and speak in a preposterous voice that sounds like Will Arnett doing an impression of Will Arnett and everyone around him is DEATHLY SERIOUS about it. So serious, my God. That’s the silliest part of it, really, is that no one ever says, “Sorry, I’m sorry, I know we’re working hard to find this villain, but truly, can you take off your pointy ears? And like, talk normal?”
Anyway, I’m not here to Seinfeldize the silliness of superhero movies like some fucking hack A.I. (Booooo! Boooooo, robots! Pay human beings for what comes out of their human brains and throw all the robots in the garbage!!) I’m here to talk about Colin Farrell.
(Hey! Look what happened while I was taking a break from writing this — it’s Colin Farrell hanging out with striking WGA writers in New York, and also Michael Kelly, talking about how important writers are! I swear, I didn’t ask him to do that or anything. What a guy.)
Here’s what I remembered about this film going into it, from having seen it in the theater:
- I remember that it was three hours long.
- I remember that Robert Pattinson’s hair was an atrocity. Just an absolute nightmare. And I think it’s important to unpack that semiotically, because this particular Batman movie had a whole there’s-a-thin-line-between-good-and-evil thing happening, a we’re-not-so-different-you-and-I vibe coming from Paul Dano’s The Riddler, an incel with tape all over his face who’s really sad and good at puzzles, so I guess we can tell that Bruce Wayne is also a damaged person because even though he’s a billionaire playboy he voluntarily presents himself like a six-year-old who managed to talk his way out of a bath before bedtime for several nights in a row. Poor sad Bruce! Here’s the other thing, there’s a loving shot of RPatz’s absolutely enormous muscly back in the first five minutes of the movie, and I do not like a big buff Robert Pattinson. This is another reason why obviously the world of superhero cinema is not a great fit for me, because yeah, I know, all those dudes who get cast as heroes eat twelve chicken breasts for every meal and become ripped in a way that defies biology, so it comes with the territory, I get that. But I want my Pattinson in a 2009 hottest-vampire-boy-in-the-whole-school haircut, I want him wan, and I want him pale, ideally so much that his skin sparkles in direct sunlight. Not beefy.
- I remember that they play that Nirvana song WAY too many times. Apparently one of Batman’s core principles is that it’s okay to eat fish because they don’t have any feelings. And that’s actually kind of interesting, but it’s not even fully explored!
Colin Farrell arrives
Time stamp is 29:47. I think we’ve all heard about the unbelievable transformation of Colin in his Penguin makeup and how unrecognizable he is (I’m remembering now that I asked the person I saw this in the theater with if they could guess who the Penguin was, and they couldn’t — proof!). So I don’t need to retread that territory, but you know what I noticed about unrecognizable Colin this viewing, having become a Farrell connoisseur?
You totally can tell it’s him, because of the charm. He’s nailing his New York accent (how far we’ve come!!), his eyes are sparkling FOR DAYS from behind his prosthetics, and his presence is just undeniable.
The Penguin is a villain, but he’s largely comic relief in this one, and gets a lot of fun comic-book-quippy lines. He’s big and broad and likes to bust Batman’s balls, and honestly, this particular whiny, mopey, ripped, greasy-haired Batman kind of deserves it. At some point he (Batman) says, probably in some self-important voiceover, “I am vengeance”; later, Penguin gets his attention by saying “Hey, vengeance!” which made me laugh.
There’s a delightful scene where Colin and Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon are just yelling at each other while Batman kinda stands there and watches like a big silly in a bat costume. It looked like they were having fun. I’d love to see some cutting-room-floor outtakes of this scene; I really hope they were allowed to adlib some insults.
Then, lest you think his performance couldn’t get any more fun, he exits the scene with a little penguin walk! Absolutely inspired.
Then a lot of other stuff happened and I fast forwarded through it, usually pausing just long enough to hear that freaking Nirvana song. I need to say here again that the overuse of “Something in the Way” really gets in the way of my enjoyment (see what I did there?) of this film. It’s too much with the song.
Penguin gets a silent parting shot over Robert Pattinson’s final sad sack voiceover (and what is his voice over? If you guessed the goddamn Nirvana song, you are correct).
That’s it! That’s all I have to say about The Batman! I continue to love Colin Farrell; I can’t say I loved this movie. Now that you’ve read this entry, I would recommend going back to the beginning and reading it again with “Something in the Way” playing in the background; then it will be like you’re really there.