'Batman Begins' **** 062105
Theatrical Review (2005)

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The Work = ****
Much is being said about this film being the Batman film that should have been made years ago. More or less it is easy to see why: the other films took Batman and made the character a sort of back drop for the look of the films. I should say that I am a fan of the first Batman film and didn't mind the second one. I liked a few scenes in the third and forth films but didn't care for the movies themselves. They took a very fantasy-oriented approach to the character of Batman that sort of assumed it was only natural for someone who’s parents were killed to dress up in bat oriented, latex, bondage wear, and creep around punching guys.

That’s not to say that 'Batman Begins' is not a fantasy but it at least has thought through the character of Bruce Wayne. I was shown why he focuses on bats and why he would choose to dress as one. There is a lot of pseudo science in the film explaining some of the technology behind Batman’s gadgetry. It may have sometimes been implausible but it was consistent and along with the background provided for Wayne, helped to give the film a grounded tone. It may not be set in the real world but it was set in a world that could be real.

Another smart move on the part of the filmmakers is they cast great actors in pretty much all the roles. They gave almost everyone at least a few scenes to flush out their characters. When the film doesn’t spend much time on some of the characters, the filmmakers put people in those roles that help to fill the gaps. Cillian Murphy, Rutger Hauer and Morgan Freeman all do the impressive job of giving their characters some depth with minimal screen time.

Murphy is noteworthy because he supposedly tried out for the role of Wayne, didn’t get the part, but so impressed everyone involved that he was hired for a different role. He, like Goldman and Bale, does a convincing American accent despite it not being his native accent. Michael Caine helps to make an interesting character out of Alfred and for once he is not just a caricature but a real person. Caine continues to show that he can make otherwise thin characters seem like fleshed out individuals.

David S. Goyer co-wrote the film with director Christopher Nolan. Goyer co-wrote the underrated 'Dark City' and wrote the entertaining first two Blade movies. Unfortunately he also wrote and directed the poor 'Blade III'. With Batman Begins, he and Nolan have crafted a mostly coherent story of a man driven by his past. Wayne’s tragedies are what drive him to save Gotham City’s citizens from similar fates and his fears give his rescue the twists that create Batman.

Nolan is emerging as one of the more talented directors working today. I have seen 'Memento', 'Insomnia', and now 'Batman Begins' and have liked all of them. Any qualms I had with his films were mostly minor. With 'Batman Begins', some of the action seemed a bit disjointed at times. The camera was in so close on Batman and his opponents that sometimes it was impossible to follow the action. Because some of the fight sequences were rather long it made them seem almost boring because I couldn’t follow the action.

My other chief complaint is Katie Holmes character, Rachel Dawes. She didn’t seem to serve much purpose in the film and that would have been ok except that there is a very, very, weak love story in the film. I got the feeling that it was present simply because she was the only female character in the film. I wish she had just been a friend trying to help clean up Gotham like the cop, Jim Gordon. Speaking of Gordon, in this film it is the first time that Jim Gordon has been a full fledged person.

Gary Oldman does a good job in the rolemaking him into a real character. He is someone who probably would be rising through the ranks of law enforcement but is held back by his honesty. He reminded me a bit of Serpico in that he was trapped in a sea of corruption. He is the one cop Wayne can count on to help him fight crime.

What is great about the film is all of the elements slowly come together. Wayne’s past shapes his future and small details help to make up his persona and how he came to be Batman. The closure of the film really is the beginning of Batman and I can only hope it means there will be more engaging Batman flics’. I wish Scarecrow had gotten more screen time and there was more of an explanation of who he is and ware he comes from. Still, all told, this is a solid film and an easy one to recommend. I suspect if you already like Batman or superhero comics in general you will probably enjoy the film even more than I did.


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Copyright 2005 - 2012 Nate Bundy. All rights reserved.