I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 15 years.
As of this writing, writer/director Matt Reeves' blockbuster, The Batman, has grossed over $750 million worldwide and received massive critical acclaim. Let’s look back and rank Reeves' previous six films.
1. The Batman (2022)
After many delays and production shutdowns due to Covid-19, Matt Reeves’ The Batman was finally released in March 2022. The Batman has been compared to Se7en, Zodiac, and Taxi Driver, and feels more like a crime thriller rather than a retread superhero movie. After so many iterations, The Batman feels fresher than you’d ever imagine or expect. Most of the movie's sprawling cast gets a chance to shine, from Paul Dano’s unnerving Riddler to Zoe Kravitz’ Catwoman (every bit Batman’s equal). It plays with Batman’s place in popular culture and the viewer’s knowledge of it to throw in unexpected twists. At nearly three hours long, it overstays its welcome, but for most of its running time it feels alive in its darkness, featuring a beating heart and pulse so many cookie cutter superhero products lack.
2. Let Me In (2010)
A remake of Let The Right One In, a 2008 Swedish vampire movie, Let Me In stands well enough on its own while bringing in a few surprises for those familiar with the original. It has the blood and gore you’d expect in a vampire movie, but with more depth and unforced pathos than you’re used to in the genre. Chloe Grace Moretz (as Abby) and Kodi-Smit McPhee (as Owen) excel in roles demanding more than usual from child actors. Richard Jenkins breaks your heart in a brief role as Moretz’s first caretaker. “The Father” seems like more of a monster than Abby, but you find yourself empathizing with him. A coming-of-age horror movie involving a being that can’t age, it stays with you longer than most horror movies. Let this one in.
3. War For The Planet of the Apes (2017)
The most recent Planet of the Apes trilogy ends in spectacular fashion, with Reeves delivering on both emotional and technical levels. The battle scenes are well choreographed, as you’re never lost as to what’s happening on screen. The apes have never felt more human and looked more seamless. Woody Harrelson as “The Colonel” is a compelling villain because you completely understand his position. One of the few trilogies that gets better with each subsequent film. As a character, Caesar the ape is given a complete arc, better written than most human characters. A War worth watching.
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4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
With Matt Reeves taking over the franchise after Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), it’s surprising and refreshing how much time is given to developing the apes as characters. We spend time with them, getting to know their motivations. We know why Caesar is the leader and why the apes listen to him. The humans are clearly the villains, but for the most part, they’re not one-dimensional caricatures. Gary Oldman shows up to lend his cachet as a man with justifiable hatred for ape rule. When the spectacle arrives, it’s well worth the time spent in front of your screen. Quite the improvement over Rise, Reeves allows tension to build until the last possible moment. This Dawn gets dark.
5) Cloverfield (2008)
The found footage film from January 2008 with the brilliant trailer that more or less delivered on its promise. I’ve never been a fan of found footage, as it’s rarely believable that any human being wouldn’t just drop the camera when things went sideways. Having written that, for 80+ minutes you get dizzy, you get scared, you see things no camera would be able to film, but it’s all jolt-inducing fun. The usually annoying T. J. Miller has nattering, ongoing commentary that totally feels justifiable in the moment. The reveal at the end is well worth the investment in time. Some scares are cheap, but most of them are well-earned. You’ve seen worse found footage horror; a lot worse.
6. The Pallbearer (1996)
Matt Reeves' debut wears its The Graduate influences on its sleeve, but it’s not the retread you might expect based on the trailer. David Schwimmer essentially plays his Ross character from Friends or he’s just stammering like Ross. Gwyneth Paltrow is luminous in one of her earlier roles, hinting at the superstar she'd become. Plays more like a romantic drama with laughs more than an actual rom-com, but for a debut it’s remarkably self-assured. Though some of the plot developments feel too clever and calculated, you’re -forgiving because it doesn’t really detract from a solid viewing experience. If it’s been since the age of VCRs that you've seen it, The Pallbearer holds up better than you remember.
After seeing The Batman, be sure to revisit Matt Reeves' previous films, as he’s adroit at combining character with spectacle.