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Batman Begins (2005)

PG-13 ∑ 140 minutes

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Bob Kane, David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan

Starring
 · Christian Bale
 · Michael Caine
 · Liam Neeson
 · Morgan Freeman
 · Gary Oldman


Review by Evan Ramirez

Batman Begins is not only one of the finest films of the year, but it sets the stage for a whole new and promising franchise. The legend of Batman has gone through numerous T.V. shows, comics, and movies. Some have been horrible, others mediocre. Very few have come close to excellence. Not since the first film of the franchise that was released in 1989, has a Batman movie been so utterly pleasing.

Instead of beginning the film with a typical action sequence, it opens with Bruce Wayne being held in a Chinese prison. A few minutes into the film Bruce meets up with Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), who will talk to Bruce about leaving the prison (Ducard has already paid for his release) and going on a short quest to find the training grounds and home to the Society of Shadows, a sect of ninja devoted to combating corruption and evil. After arriving, Bruce undergoes training from Ducard and learns to fight his biggest fears head on. Bruce then leaves the facility against the wishes of his newfound brethren and heads off on his own mission. The rest of the film shows how Batman really began.  How he acquires his weapons, the Batmobile, the batsuit, and various other gear that create the persona criminals would soon come to fear. During Batmanís exhilarating ride of trying to bring Gotham back to peace, you get characters such as the freakishly scary Scarecrow played by the oddly selected Cillian Murphy; and Tom Wilkinson (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) as Gothamís drug lord, Carmine Falcone.

 

Smarts

 
 92%

Christian Bale has never acquired a mainstream audience, but after seeing Batman Begins people will see how skillfully he can lead a cast and how well he can act. Batman Begins has a cast that is loaded with superb actors. From Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, to Katie Holmes and Gary Oldman. This is possibly one of the film's best aspects. Even though each one of these characters do not have the biggest part, they each are given their own character that seems like it was written for them and them alone. You have some of the best veteran actors working side by side with new generation actors. This is not an unusual idea, but in this case it works perfectly and stands out in stark relief to other films of this sort.

One of the most focused upon aspects of Batman Begins is Bruce Wayneís fear of bats in concert with his parentís death and the guilt he feels for a part he might have played in their fate. This leaves Bale with a huge weight on his shoulders. There is no way that he would want to have his first shot at a big movie go down in flames because of some hard emotional channeling problems that Batman faces, and Bale attacks that facet of his character fiercely and effectively. Showing this side of Batman was a big risk, but unlike some other films, Batman Begins plays it off to the best of its ability and it works wonderfully. Bale does a spectacular job in giving the audience a fresh side of Batman.

In Batman Begins, you donít get a feeling of comic book dialogue, as with this year's Sin City. Some people may not like this adjustment others might. It is your style of dialogue that you prefer. Do you like phrases that are understandable or smooth flowing speeches? Batman leaves you with some patches of dialogue that could have been more appropriately executed.

Unlike Spiderman 1 and 2, Batman Begins gives you hardly any CGI shots of the dark knight in action. I would love for this kind of filmmaking to be used more often, even though I understand that you need CGI to film someone who goes around swinging wildly from building to building in New York City. On the other hand Batman transportation around the city is a little more standard (if you can consider the Batmobile standard). There are still shots that look kind of worthless though. Which just goes to show you that every film is not perfect and that there is no exception here. When you get hit with the CGI though you really get it. Excellent shots of Gotham City and a particular scene near the end of the film involving a metro are of note.

Christopher Nolan knows how to direct. He has shown his prominent abilities in two other fine films, Memento and Insomnia. Most people wont know who he is until they see Batman Begins and then they will say ďHey, thatís the guy who directed Memento. Heís pretty good.Ē

 

Popcorn

 
 88%

None of the Batman movies have been based particularly around scary premises. But in Batman Begins, that's what they dole out to the audience. Possibly one of the scariest comic book villains that have been on the big screen is the Scarecrow. Just knowing how he can manipulate your mind and make you go insane with terror makes him fascinating.

Lets be serious here, though, most everyone knows that the Batman films have always been about the action. Batman Begins doesnít let down in that department. From the beginning the film jumpstarts the action and the first act ends with Ken Watanabe fighting Christian Bale in a huge scene as a temple goes up in flames. Later on you finally get to see Batman in action and see him employing all of his awesome equipment that you have likely envied since you were seven years old. From spectacular car chases involving the tumbler (this film's ingenious take on the Batmobile) to a burning runaway train.

This had to be the film that introduces you to how Bruce Wayne became Batman. Batman Begins just doesnít do it right it does it great. Nolan does a wonderful job in this area of the film. We donít get a sense of it being rushed or being slowed down. We are offered flashbacks in the first half of the film of the events that transpired in Wayne's life that make him into a vigilante. It has a perfect pace for a film of its kind. Nolan had a huge opportunity to show Bruce Wayneís feelings and emotions as a human being. Not only does Nolan accomplish this remarkably but Bale works within the material brilliantly. They both succeed in making this important angle of the film a highlight.

 

Final

The Batman franchise has finally returned after eight long years. Not only has it returned but also in a sense it has been born again. Donít just wait for Batman Begins to come out on DVD, go and see it before it is sent to a smaller theatre. If you are a Batman fan rejoice because your series has new life and it is better then ever. Christopher Nolan leads Christian Bale and the rest of the Batman Begins cast on a journey that wont just end after this film is finished. It will continue on into some hopefully superior sequels.


1169 Words ∑ Published: 18 June 2005

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