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I had fearful reservations about this one. I loved Tim Burton's Batman
- 12 years old when it came out I was the perfect age for it and I also
enjoyed Batman Returns. The franchise went so wrong under Joel
Schumacher that I wasn't sure I wanted it resurrected. Not least
because Batman was one of the few comics I read and enjoyed as a kid
and was always my favourite superhero. I grew up reading the comics,
watching reruns of the Adam West TV show and then getting Burton's
celluloid vision. I was spoilt for choice as a kid but as an adult now
I was concerned revisiting the franchise, especially given Warner's
record over the last decade of screwing up summer blockbusters with
potential all over the place (dare I bring up the Matrix sequels?)
However, I am pleased to report I could not have been more wrong about how great Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins is. This is better than Burton. Sacrilege, you say?! Well Burton was still cartoony in many elements, he wasn't churning out the bilge of Schumacher but Burton's Batman was still over the top. As a kid this was ideal but Nolan's Batman is real. Everything in this world seems plausible and it is therefore a world that draws you in. Characters' vulnerability is that much more present. Every bruise, every scare, every concern, every emotion seems real.
Part of this is that Nolan has assembled an exemplary cast. Again, this concerned me prior to seeing the film. I wasn't sure a cast of big name legends like Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman and well known names like Liam Neeson and Katie Holmes wouldn't detract and distract from Batman. I was always sure Christian Bale could be the great moody Batman he's been waiting his career to be but the others I wasn't so sure about.
That said Bale is not just good, he's superb. I never thought I'd really be able to envision anyone other than Michael Keaton as the definitive Batman for me but since seeing Batman Begins a couple of days ago Bale has cemented himself in the position. Perhaps Keaton will now be able to escape the spectre of Batman he hasn't truly shaken off for 13 years.
The rest of the cast is also pitch perfect. Cillian Murphy is creepy as hell, Liam Neeson is authoritative and imposing, Katie Holmes is strong and sexy (I particularly thought she'd be insipid, she should jettison Tom Cruise and let her talent - which she does have naysayers just watch Pieces Of April - speak for itself) and Michael Caine is an Alfred you've never seen but in fact far more likely as a butler than the aristocratic pomp with which he is usually portrayed. Gary Oldman is also superb in a rare wholly decent character for him as Lieutenant Jim Gordon who gets far more to so here than Gordon has ever had to do before. Only Tom Wilkinson is a little off with a slightly comedic wise-guy American accent that never really convinces.
The emotional bond between Bruce Wayne and Alfred is actually a wonderful human heart to the film than Nolan and Goyer have written perfectly.
Don't let that make you think the action is not front and centre though. From Wayne's training through the early stages of the film to his early missions as Batman at about the half way point to a thrillingly choreographed chase sequence and an edge of your seat finale this film delivers the cool quotient in bucket loads.
Great villains (especially Murphy), great story, great cast, great action... put simply, great film. Probably the best comic-book movie ever made (that's excluding the genius Sin City which I consider a moving comic-book rather than a comic-book movie, that will never be bettered but Batman is a different beast and the best of its kind).
Christopher Nolan (and cast) have pulled off what I hadn't dared to
dream - a Batman every bit as good as Burton/Keaton's vision - and
eradicated the camp, feverish memories of Clooney, Kilmer and (cough..)
The story is as good an origin story as you'll find - covering all the major (true-to-the-comic) events, and not wasting ages on them. We see Wayne's all-important training period (previously ignored), and his connection to the Tibetan shadow-ninja clan led by Ra's Al Ghul. We see Bruce come up with ideas for his symbol, his costume, his gadgets, his car, his cave - IT ALL FITS SO PERFECTLY.
That's not all - Liam Neeson is perfect (as ever, when Lucas isn't writing his lines), Batman's first mad nemesis (the Scarecrow) is genuinely frightening; with some outstandingly scary 'fear' effects.. Gary Oldman looks just like a young Commissioner Gordon (and doesn't dominate), Morgan Freeman and Rutger Hauer give solid heavyweight support to the boardroom machinations at Wayne Enterprizes. I love Michael Gough(?) but Michael Caine is great as Alfred. It's only Katie Holmes who didn't ring true for me - not because of her performance, but simply because she looks all of 15 years old (sorry Katie). I am always blown away by Christian Bale, and this is no exception.
The fights are great, the Bat-gadgets all there, the car is amazing, the plot is thorough and exciting, Gotham looks great, Batman really is frightening & menacing (and lethal!).. And the scenes with the bats themselves FINALLY get across the idea of how scary they can be.
There is some humour, but it's fairly dry. The soundtrack, like all the best original soundtracks, is excellent - you hardly know it's there, but the emotions of the scene are enhanced and boosted. For the most part this is a serious Batman film, with plenty for long-time fans. This NEW Batman is one I'd like to see again. Bravo Mr Nolan, bravo.
Finally, after the previous 2 outings of the caped crusader, the Batman
franchise is back on track. Having been a big comic collector over the
years and a long time fan of the Dark Knight, I was especially
disappointed by 'Forever' and 'Batman and Robin'. To me, these film
lost the essence of what drives Bruce Wayne to do what he does and
turned Batman into more of a pop star than misunderstood hero.
Thankfully though, Nolan has gone back to the roots of the character, portraying a confused and angry Bruce Wayne, who ultimately rises to become Gotham's greatest champion. Don't expect to see loads of shots of Batman in this film though. It is the story of Wayne and focuses mainly on his years of training and preparation for becoming Batman. You are almost teased throughout the first half of the movie, waiting to see the excellent Christian Bale in the costume, as it keeps holding back to keep you in anticipation. When Batman does finally turn up on screen, it is well worth the wait. In my opinion, Bale was born for this role and for the first time when watching a Batman film, I enjoyed the scenes of Wayne being Wayne as much as Wayne being Batman.
One of the strongest features of the film, is the way that it manges to suck you in believe that a 'Batman' could be a reality one day. The technology is current, with no use of silly OTT weapons and gadgets, again making the film work by today's standards. Plus, we are not allowed to forget that Batman is still just a man under the costume and there are times when he gets a bit of a kicking and shows that he can be vulnerable too, something we sometimes forget when watching a superhero flick. Gone too, are the silly villains!!! Jack Nicholson was the perfect Joker but from there it went downhill. Thankfully, in this movie the bad guys are actually fairly 'normal' and manage to be menacing at the same time.
Which finally brings me to the cast. I always had high expectations for this film when the cast was announced. Let's face it, what a line up! Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Katy Holmes, Ken Watanabe and Tom Wilkinson are not to be sniffed at. Even an old favourite of mine makes an appearance: Rutger Hauer! Awesome. Actors of this calibre would never have gotten involved in this project if they didn't have faith in Christoper Nolan's talents and thankfully they took the leap...
For the comic book fans out there, waiting to see this movie, let me assure you that you won't be upset. Imagine the darkness of the 'A Death In The Family' and the 'Year One' story lines. I have never met a fan of Batman who didn't love these books. Well, this is the kind of Batman you can expect from Bale: Dark, brooding and tortured by his past, yet the hero we have come to love. For those of you who are not comic fans, then just look forward to seeing how Batman should be. This film is a credit to Bob Kane's original vision and a testament to all the talented artists and writers who keep the legend of the Dark Knight alive in the comic books today....
Thank you Mr. Nolan and thank you Mr. Bale. In fact thanks to everyone who worked on this film. Batman finally Begins from here....
I got a chance to see 'Batman Begins' just this past Friday evening. I must say that before seeing the film, I felt in my heart this is the 'Batman' film we've been waiting for. Within ten minutes into the movie, I turned to my date and said to her, "This is it! This is the movie!" I just can't believe that after all these years, Warner Bros. finally got it right. For me the most intriguing part of the film, apart from the great script, and great acting, was Christopher Nolan's decision to base the film in reality. Deciding that Batman could really exist in our universe and our world was a stroke of genius. Another aspect of the film that's so refreshing is that instead of the focus being on the villain, Batman is the film's star. And rightly so. It's amazing what can happen when a studio leaves a respected director, and the creative team alone, and allow them to make the best movie possible. The only two negatives that I can think of is Katie Holmes and the fight sequences. Holmes does indeed look like a teenager playing grown-up. Her performance isn't bad per SE, it's just that you really don't buy her as an Assistant D.A. As for the fight sequences, I felt the cameras angles were too tight on the action, edited too quickly, and lit too dark so that you really couldn't tell what was going on and determine who was hitting who. Maybe we can attribute this to the fact that Nolan is not an action director. Hopefully the next film will open up the fight sequences so we can actually see Batman use the martial arts skills he developed during his exile. But apart from those relatively minor quibbles, the film is excellent, and I'm definitely going back on opening day June 15th, and seeing it a second time. A third and fourth viewing is definitely not out of the question.
It sickened me in the past to see the Batman movie franchise slowly
digging it's way to an early grave. After the quality Tim Burton films,
the series pretty much went down the toilet, beginning a horrifically
campy age of 'Bat credit-cards' and an armored Arnold Schwarzenegger
tossing cringe-worthy puns at a Batman who seemed to be trying not to
be embarrassed by the fact that his costume had nipples. So what could
Warner Brothers producers hope to do to resurrect the franchise?
Pretend it never happened, and start the whole series over again with a
talented director, compelling story and capable cast.
Enter Christopher Nolan, the mastermind behind 2000's 'Momento', widely praised as one of the most innovative films of the decade. As director/co- screenwriter, Nolan creates a richly dark, atmospheric world for Batman to inhabit, similar to that of the Burton films, but less cartoony. The film's screenplay, written by Nolan and David S. Goyer is quality stuff, it's true that some of the dialog exchanges can seem kind of contrived, particularly between Wayne and Liam Neeson's character, Ducard, but it sounds so classy you tend not to care.
Nolan also puts a lot of trust in his audiences to stay put while the first hour of the film comprehensively explores Bruce Wayne's backstory, with no cape donning and few fight sequences. Nevertheless, the pace never slows, and the story is so unexpected and fascinating (who would have expected a Batman film to begin in a prison in Tibet? only Nolan could pull it off!) there's little chance of us losing interest. And this way, we really get a sense of who Bruce Wayne is, a trait none of the past movies were able to capture, including the Burton films. We see what drives him, what leads him to become this iconic crime fighter, and the reasoning behind the mask.
Of course, to help the audience get under Bruce Wayne's skin, it doesn't hurt to have such a talented lead as Christian Bale. Bale has been emerging as one of the most talented actors of his generation, and he brings that talent to a peak here, playing the darkest of all superheroes. If you were to break down the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne, you would find that it is essentially three characters: Wayne as Batman, behind the mask; Wayne's public facade as the billionaire playboy; and the real, brooding Bruce Wayne. Bale plays all three of the characters to absolute perfection, and molds them together well enough to make it clear to show they are still the same person. He has been given tons of accolades for his performance already, and needless to say, he deserves every one.
And the sheer quality of the supporting cast is mind-boggling, if for the number of big names only. It's very hard to find a weak spot in the incredibly strong array of performances here, but if one had to be found, it would have to be Katie Holmes. It's not that she gives a bad performance, on the contrary, but just she seems too young to be convincing as a district attorney. For me, Michael Gough will always be the definitive Alfred, but Michael Caine does an excellent job of taking over the role, giving a very strong (and often funny) performance. Liam Neeson is sheer class as Ducard, Wayne's mysterious mentor, as is Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Wayne's arms manufacturer and provider of the Batman gear. It's wonderful to see the incredibly talented and much underrated Gary Oldman as Sgt. Gordon, the only decent cop in Gotham, and he truly makes the role his own. Even cult favorite Rutger Hauer makes an appearance as Richard Earle, the ambitious head of Wayne Enterprises. And (surprise surprise!) the villains are also actually menacing for once, as opposed to cartoony and corny. Cillian Murphy just about walks away with the show as the truly chilling Scarecrow (the sequences involving his 'fear gas' are surprisingly frightening) Ken Watanabe is mysterious and creepy as guild leader Ra's Al Ghul and Tom Wilkinson is very convincing as Carmine Falcone, head of the Gotham city mob.
Nolan's knack for realism also comes as a breath of fresh air in this age of CGI bloated blockbusters - there are next to no computer generated shots in the movie, even a sequence with Batman standing on top of a high building staring down at the city was filmed with a stuntman. And it really works, the Batmobile actually interacts with it's environment, and looks so much better real than computer generated. But don't think that the film will come across as too serious and stuffy because of Nolan's realism - true, Gotham seems too dark and dirty to come across as a fantasy world, but Batman Begins retains that unmistakable sense of fun that seems to only be present in comic book movies. We jeer and fear the villains, and cheer the hero as he lays his life on the line to vanquish evil and save the city. And that is how it should be. There's even a surprising twist near the end, which is doubly surprising because it actually comes as a shock. What's not to love here?
(and, further cudos to director Nolan for finally managing to make a swarm of bats actually frightening for once)
Overall, I'd have to label Batman Begins 'The must see movie of the summer' - it's a well written, authoritatively directed, impeccably acted (especially by Bale's powerhouse lead performance and Cillian Murphy's sickly menacing Scarecrow) and very high quality production. Indeed, most other summer blockbusters could learn a thing or two from Batman Begins. If the Batman franchise died under it's own gaudiness years ago, let us rejoice this glorious rebirth - Batman truly does begin here.
I just came back from a special screening of Batman Begins and I must
say this is the best movie I have yet seen this year. All of the
blockbuster movies I had seen this year with much expectation have been
disappointing. But Batman Begins is not the typical corny action film;
it incorporates all aspects of genre: action, fantasy, drama, and even
comedy. I was at the edge of my seat from the thrills in some scenes
and clapping & laughing from the humorous lines that director
Christopher Nolan had written for the characters. I was really amazed
by the acting performances from the new generation of actors, assuming
that they wouldn't have been able to compete with and compliment the
talented, veteran actors such as Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary
Oldman, and Liam Neeson. I mean you couldn't have asked for better
actors!! Christian Bale was just perfect for the role: he had the
intensity, physique, and charm you'd expect a Batman character to
encompass. Every actor was casted perfectly for their roles. I even
give props to Katie Holmes for playing a district attorney considering
her previous roles consisted of "the young girl" or "girlfriend".
I hardly ever see action films nowadays because I don't want to waste my time watching a conventional, corny, over-digitalized,plot less film. To be honest, I gave this film a chance not because it was a Batman movie, but rather because of the talented veteran actors as well as being a fan of Christopher Nolan's previous films. Whether you're a fan of Christopher Nolan or just a Batman fanatic, you'll enjoy every single second of the movie. People of ALL ages will appreciate this film. The violence in this movie is not vulgar, but rather sends out a lot of great messages of loyalty, respect, and humility. Not only is "Batman Begins" the best of the Batman series, it is the most unconventional. This recommendation is coming from a person who mostly watches art-house/independent films.
This film easily trumps any live-action incarnation we've scene of the
Dark Knight before, borrowing heavily from both the comics and the Dini
and Co. animated series. This is a hard, fast, driving, heartfelt epic
that draws you into the character of Bruce Wayne and makes you damn
well care. Batman doesn't play second-fiddle to the villains here like
in the other films. It's his movie and that's the way it should be.
Much has been said of the film's "reality" quotient, and I'm here to say it works. Nolan talks about how Batman's strong because he does push-ups, he gets around because of his gadgets, and by introducing each of them with a plausible explanation, we forget to quibble and go along with it. The technology may be fantastic, but it's believable. And, unlike the "reality" of something like Daredevil, Nolan doesn't forget his ideals halfway though and start having Batman wire-jump thirty feet into the air.
Batman Begins is a well told story of the origin of Bruce Wayne/Batman
(Christian Bale). It covers a lot of the same ground as Michael
Keaton's original Batman, but goes much further in depth in many
factors of his creation. It goes into great detail about subjects such
as how he got his costume, what exactly it is. Same goes with the
Batmobile. We also find out why he chose to be bat-like.
One of the more interesting aspects here is how it shows Bruce's father, Thomas Wayne (Linus Roache), and how he molded Bruce's life and instilled good judgment within him, a point which is misunderstood about him by most people he comes in contact with. Thomas, too, teaches Bruce valuable lesson, such as "We fall so we can learn to pick ourselves up". This is pretty close to the theme of the movie or motto Bruce Wayne lives by. The resemblance of the father & son is pretty good, too.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the training Bruce Wayne endured becoming "invincible". Bruce is trained by Ducard (Liam Neeson) in many ways like a ninja (The concept of Batman IS similar to a ninja). He is taught many valuable lessons in this temple and is shown no mercy. Eventually, we even see his first real enemy as a superhero/vigilante.
Although I am not positive as to how true to the comic book this movie is, I am sure it took a few liberties, as did Spider-Man. Most of the small examples I have noticed are for the better and make for a good story. The Batmobile is more believable as an expensive armored vehicle that the military would not spend the money on than a juiced up Corvette (or whatever that was). Same with the Batsuit.
Katie Holmes is excellent as Rachel Dawes, a D.A. who is not afraid to go after the big villains in court. Also worthy of mentioning is Michael Caine as Alfred the butler. I do not believe they could have found a better man for that role, although I could not get the image of Caine as Austin Powers' dad out of my head when he was on screen.
Finally, in my opinion, Christian Bale makes a much better Batman than the three recent previous ones in Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney. Something about him makes Batman darker and more mysterious. Hopefully, DC Comics and movies have learned from their mistakes and we will not have to worry about Batman picking up a sidekick in this newest installment of the Batman series. 9/10
I've just come back from a preview screening of Batman Begins. I went
in with low expectations, despite the excellence of Christopher Nolan's
previous efforts. Talk about having your expectations confounded! This
film grips like wet rope from the start. I won't give away any of the
story; suffice to say it mixes and matches its sources freely, tossing
in a dash of Frank Miller, a bit of Alan Moore and a pinch of Bob Kane
to great effect.
What's impressive is that despite the weight of the franchise, Nolan has managed to work so many of his trademarks into a mainstream movie. The story does not progress in linear fashion for the first half, and there are some truly spectacular hallucination scenes. Parents thinking of taking their young kids along, think twice. When we left, a terrified 8-year-old boy was being comforted by his parents. Some of what's up there on screen really is the stuff of nightmares.
Of the cast of Brits chosen to bring this American tale to the masses, Christian Bale convinces in his dual role, while Michael Caine as Alfred comes up with the humour just when the film is in danger of taking itself too seriously. Gary Oldman and Tom Wilkinson provide able support, as does Morgan Freeman.
Most refreshing of all is the way that Nolan and co have come up with a way of bringing comics to the screen that does justice to the often adult source material in a way that, say, Daredevil, tried and failed to do (although the director's cut is better). If the Dark Knight doesn't return after this, there's no justice.
BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe.
plot: Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has lost his parents when he was young and trained with the great Ducard (Liam Neeson). He returns to Gotham and wins his parent's fortune, manor and business, Wayne Enterprizes. Now, with the help of an old friend of his family (Morgan Freeman), Bruce becomes Batman by night, a dark hero who fights crime in a city where the good people do nothing. Batman is thrust into a war with his first major enemy, The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), only to discover that the evil villain is working for someone much more powerful from Bruce's past.
the good: Wow, for the last 13 years I held Tim Burton's BATMAN RETURNS above every BATMAN film, and every film for that matter. It was a great film, and it still is. But it was not the true BATMAN that I thought it was. I have just came back from seeing this film, BATMAN BEGINS, and it beats BATMAN RETURNS by a long-shot.
As much as I love Michael Keaton's portrayal as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Christian Bale beats them all! He's great as the millionaire playboy, Bruce Wayne, and also as the dark, bad-ass Batman. He treats Bruce and Batman like two completely different characters, even better than both Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer! He also sports the best costume, and an awesome bat mobile.
Michael Caine and Gary Oldman are also great replacements for Michael Gough and Pat Hingle as Alfred Pennyworth and James Gordon. Caine turned out just as great as Gough as the butler/father figure, but Gordon put a more humorous touch on the character which did not disappoint me!
Cillian Murphy is equally great as the villain, The Scarecrow, who freaks me out and leads to some creepy/cool trippy horror-like scenes. Katie Holmes is also here as the love interest, she was OK, not as bad as people say but still a little off. The rest of the cast also handles their parts perfectly!
Christopher Nolan's direction was the best because it managed to be dark and gloomy like Burton's, only a little more realistic!
The score and action are also honorable mentions for this film.
But in the end, what makes this the best is Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and Batman. Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer were also great, but the way I see it, Bale is the definitive Batman!
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