Thursday, July 19, 2012


Batman Begins
June 15, 2005
140 min
United States (English)

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer

"Batman Begins" portrays the superhero like we have never seen him before. This palpable story is rich with careful plotting, characters, and themes. Action also abounds with an authentic aura. Here is one of the best initial entries in all of superhero cinema.

As a boy, Bruce Wayne falls into a well on his family's estate. Waiting to be rescued the only company the child has are bats... a creature he begins to greatly fear, but ultimately a creature he will overcome and, in a way, become.

Of all superheroes Batman stands apart from the rest. He does not have superpowers; what he does have is all the skills and tools imaginable to keep the fictional city of Gotham safe. It makes a lot of sense then that this entry would stand apart from other superhero films. Writer/director Christopher Nolan, who would become a somewhat-household name hereafter, brings his lurid aesthetics and abundant realism to adapt a character and story that was born in comic books. "Batman Begins" is so named as we learn the backstory of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), the heir to a fortune and enterprise left by his parents who were killed before his eyes when he was still just a boy. Once a man Bruce's journeys bring him to Bhutan where he is tried and trained to become more than a man. As he confronts his fears, guilt, and anger he becomes what his home-city needs most, a just hero.

What makes Bruce Wayne/Batman an infinitely interesting character herein is the stark contrast between the double lives he leads: A wealthy and flamboyant playboy by day (and sometimes by night) and the city's masked savior by night (and sometimes day). Christian Bale fills both suits well. A refreshing amount of practical costumes, props, and effects gives the title character a weight of realism that is unheard of in the genre.

Only Alfred Pennyworth, the Wayne family butler, knows of Bruce's secret. He is played by Michael Caine, whose humor and teachings make him the ideal grandfather figure that anyone could ask for. Caine's years find their worth in this role. Bruce's childhood friend, Rachel (Katie Holmes), is now one of Gotham's foremost assistant district attorneys. In each their own way they work to fight the escalating crime in the metropolis, including the mob-ruled underground. Cillian Murphy plays Dr. Crane, who brings convicted lowlife to mental asylum thus getting them out of jail. He's the Scarecrow to Bruce Wayne's Batman. This villain and his purpose seem perfect for the concepts of fear so prevalent in this script, but the hallucinogenic toxin he uses as a anticlimactic weapon and the lousy visual effect it is rendered with are among my biggest bothers with "Batman Begins." Luckily they do not sour the otherwise sensational time I had with Batman's first mascarade.

I must make note of the well-known Batmobile which is reborn (here it is known as the Tumbler) and is a star all on its own. The first chase scene from Arkham Asylum to the Batcave is truly magnificent filmmaking with all the incredible strategies and maneuverings  of our masked crusader. 

The theme-driven score by not one but two master composers, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, is there at every key moment to seal the scene. Such a moment is when a grown-up Bruce Wayne returns to face his fear in the very place where he contracted the phobia. As far as first installments in superhero movies go, it does not get much better than this.


CONTENT: intense action violence and some frightening images

1 comment:

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