Batman Begins (2005)
(4.5/5) action, super-hero, thriller
This is a very good movie.
I watched Batman Begins (2005) for the second time both to prepare for The Dark Night (2008), and to test HD Internet movie downloads through my Apple TV (review coming soon). I was impressed when I saw it in the theatre back in 2005 and was impressed once again.
As a child Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) witnessed the murder of his parents. We discover him years later in an Asian jail as part of his ‘exploration of the criminal fraternity’. Ducard (Liam Neeson) urges Wayne to follow his master, Ra’s Al Ghul (a cameo role played by Ken Watanabe), to become more than just a vigilante. Ducard promises, that as a member of the ‘League of Shadows”, Wayne will learn to combat his fears, combat evil – and become a legend. That’s how Batman begins!
While I vaguely recollect Christian Bale from his earlier work, it was this movie that placed him permanently in my movie-going consciousness. Along with Bale, Batman Begins (2005) has a star-studded cast including Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. Bale and Neesom are terrific. Some have criticized Katie Holmes in this movie. I enjoyed her performance as Wayne’s childhood friend, turned Gotham’s Assistant District Attorney. Gary Oldman is superb. Morgan Freeman, playing a Q-like character, is the same as he is in almost every movie. Enjoyable, but nothing special.
After enjoying Michael Caine in Educating Rita (1983) and The Man Who Would Be King (1975), I have really, really, grown tired of Caine’s over exposure. While OK in Batman Begins, I’d be very happy never to see him in a movie again. He’s made 134 movies – so far! Enough is enough.
To this day its hard for me to watch Tom Wilkinson without remembering him as the cross-dressing husband that wanted to be a woman in the dismal In the Bedroom (2001). Still, he was pretty good in this – though he’s better in Michael Clayton (2007).
Batman Begins (2005) was the first of the comic-book-inspired movies to seriously re-imagine what the comic book, super-hero movie genre could be. Like the first Spiderman (2002), but more so. Most of the prior super-hero movies had been too slapstick, humorous and fantastical — not serious, gritty and mature enough. Following Batman Begins (2005) lead, other movies of the genre, such as Iron Man (2008), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), and The Incredible Hulk (2008) have taken this approach – immeasurably improving the genre’s quality thenceforth. We have Batman Begins (2005) to thank for this.
Like the first Spiderman (2002) movie (and most James Bond movies), Batman Begins does a good job explaining exactly how Wayne got all his super-hero toys and how is training taught him to user fear, theatrics and diversions as tricks in the crime-fighting trade.
I’ll make two final points about the terrific director Christopher Nolan. First, this is an impressive work given that it is his fifth feature film. Second, his camera angle choices are frustrating for a blogger-reviewer trying to capture pictures to comment on. He rarely films two people from the side view. The picture of Katie Holmes and Christian Bale above is one of the few such shots in the movie. Very frustrating.
I highly recommend this movie.