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|Index||2598 reviews in total|
Christopher Nolan and crew are to be commended for a job well done. If
you are moderately interested in Batman, perhaps enjoyed the first film
or two but was appalled with Schumacher's take on the series, you will
love Batman Begins for its return to the darker, more serious side of
Batman. If you are, however, a true Batman fan (by that I mean you have
read your share of Bat comics and genuinely appreciate the character),
this film will blow your mind.
First off, let me say that Goyer and Nolan do take a lot of "artistic license" with the origin story; though is such a thing possible with a story that has been retold countless times? Anyway, there are a lot of new ideas thrown into the mix of Bruce Wayne's struggle - and subsequently, a lot of dimension.
The mission of Batman Begins is really very simple - to bring a sense of realism and maturity to the Batman tale.
When I say realism, I do not mean it is realistic. How could it be? But the film approaches the subject with the question, "Okay - what if it WERE possible?" And the suspension of belief works well.
But besides all of that, what is really important about this film? Christian Bale. He MAKES Batman work. Never before has any television or film truly captured the intensity, the ferocious growl, the unstoppable passion that Bruce Wayne has.
And this is a film about Bruce Wayne, not Batman. Which is why it works so well.
I think this film would not have been possible, perhaps, without Spider-man's birth to the screen. Spider-man revolutionized superhero movies, gave some credibility to them. It showed the world that, in order to make a movie about a superhero, you have to instead focus on the alter ego - the real person.
But Batman is a little trickier than Spider-man, I think. You see, the twist to this character is that, the Batman IS Bruce Wayne. Wayne the billionaire is the mask. Perhaps this seems a little simple, but the film really takes a hard look at it, and shows us two different Wayne's. This Batman does not require his costume in order to be Batman.
There's a wonderful scene that shows an interaction between a little boy and the Batman. Batman attempts to stay hidden as he clings to a building in an alley, spying on a villain attempting to get rid of criminal evidence. The boy emerges from his beaten down apartment, parents yelling at each other in the background. He looks out on his rugged balcony, then catches a glimpse of the Batman - right next to him. Instead of rushing off, Batman just kind of shares a moment with him, silent at first, and the boy says with hope, "I knew you were real. No one else believes me." Bruce watches him a second longer, then hands him a device from his belt and disappears. This wasn't the cheesy, super-hero interacting with adoring fan type scene. It was almost like two kindred spirits, the hero feeling the child's pain and reaching out to him.
The thing that is so wonderful about this version of Batman is that, while he appears heartless, he's actually full of compassion. And it isn't just the dorky super-hero type "calling". It runs in the family. We learn in the film that Bruce's great grandfather helped slaves escape to the North during the Civil War. We see perhaps one of the deepest renditions of Bruce's father, Thomas, as being a strong, compassionate and loving father, who's saying sticks with Bruce all his life: "Why do we fall? So we can pick ourselves back up." Michael Caine does a riveting job as Alfred, much more masculine (in a gentlemanly way) than past incarnations, a bit more youthful and definitely more agile. His fatherly influence warms the heart and makes us treasure every second with the character (though it might just be because of Caine, who is a phenomenal actor). Think of a "Second Hand Lions" type Alfred.
Then there's the love interest (if you can call it that), Rachel. Honestly, I understand why they put her in here, but she really has no point to the story. She's not the reason he becomes Batman. She doesn't stop him from being Batman. She's just kind of there, a convenient voice from the past. Really, any of her scenes (aside from the kiss at the end) could have been given to Alfred, and it would have worked better. But being that she's actually such a small part of the film, it doesn't bother me that much.
I won't go into the villains, because I can't say much there without giving it away. I will say, though, that they are again, very much based in realism, not in comic color poetry. There are a wide variety of villains in this film, and at the end, the promise of one very special foe in the sequel.
This film ends on a definite note of continuation, as even the main titles suggest it (the title "Batman Begins" doesn't even flash until the last scene has rolled). But it works, because you knew that was coming anyway, right? Personally, I feel this film is a much more mature comic book film than Spider-man, Superman, Fantastic Four, X-men, etc. will ever be. While not realistic, Batman Begins is BELIEVABLE, and I will definitely be frequenting the theaters quite a bit this summer to see this movie again and again.
What we see in this movie is the "dark & gritty" (TM) Batman, which was
introduced by Frank Miller in 1986 in the comics mini-series Dark
Knight Returns, which was an alternate future version of Batman. But
Miller also gave the "real" comics Batman the dark & gritty treatment
in the seminal Batman: Year One story, which is perhaps the greatest
Batman story ever created (also because of the effective artwork of the
excellent David Mazzuchelli), and which chronicles, among other things,
Bruce Wayne's initial (pre-Batman) martial arts training in a remote
mountain region. In the comics, a creative force as strong as Frank
Miller was bound to yield massive imitation by less original comics
creators - and so the early 1990s saw the Batman character getting
consistently and increasingly dark & gritty, to the extent that the
entire Batman universe was based on that darkness and grit.
So the question is, does this work in a movie? Well, in my opinion it didn't even work in the comics, so, no, for this and other reasons I don't think it works in the movie, either. I always preferred the pre-Miller Batman, whose comics were driven by the stories and not simply by mood and style.
Batman Begins is not a bad movie. It has many good things. The story has lots of great ideas. Most of the changes to the Bat-mythos were thoughtful and effective. I even loved how the Batmobile had to jump over a moat every time it left and entered the Bat-Cave.
Unfortunately, the movie is atrociously directed. Everything is much, MUCH too dark, and considering how bad-looking the terribly cut fight scenes are, the fast-moving action and scatter-shot dialog are particularly grating. Most characters beside Bale's and Neeson's don't have enough to do, or get no significant characterization. Oldman's Gordon is wildly underplayed, and I could never separate Michael Caine from Michael Caine, which I needed to do if I were to find him convincing as Alfred. I think the structure and editing of the movie was terrible, and the decision to make a comic-book movie so dark that you could hardly see what was going on, was a monumentally bad one. It was a decision made, no doubt, to emphasize the medium of the movie over that of the comic, and it made the director attempt to create some kind of art movie - and apparently many people feel he succeeded. I didn't.
And I thought the special effects were another big problem. There were too many of them. Why did the plot need a hallucinogenic drug, so faces could twist and horses could breathe fire? Because, I'm certain, the movie-makers felt they had to deliver the special effects spectacular that they thought superhero movie audiences have come to expect. A commercial decision, thus, to blow some dough on unnecessary SPX, just because the audience probably would think it was a cheap and unimportant movie if it didn't have any. So, no, I was not impressed at all; rather the opposite.
And unfortunately I have to make one more serious complaint. Ra's Al Ghul was very cool and very well played and everything, but his scheme was ridiculous in the extreme. Through centuries and even millennia his "league of shadows" (the actual size of which is never shown) would destroy civilizations (oh, or just cities) at the height of their decadence, like God striking down Sodom and Gomorrah. And now they'd decided that Gotham City should be destroyed? I'm sorry, but I find it ridiculous on at least three levels. First, wouldn't they target more than a single city? What use will it be to destroy one city? But, of course, this would depend on their man-power, which we are never made privy to. Maybe they're just, like, twelve guys. It certainly looks that way. Second, Ra's had been planning to destroy Gotham for, like, twenty years or more?! So, basically, he's been focusing all his resources on just Gotham for at least two or three decades, while events in the rest of the world has had no bearing on the situation? That's preposterous. And third, where's the sense in going in to help exacerbate the decadence and crime and corruption before delivering the death-stroke? They are totally becoming the very thing they would destroy. And sure, they're the bad guys and all, but shouldn't their scheme have SOME modicum of logical coherence? Apparently not. So anyway, not a great, successful movie as far as I'm concerned, but the typical commercial fluff with a hurried narrative and a holey rusted plot, Batman.
6 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Where to begin? Unbelievably ill-conceived. That's it. A film that
tries to be everything to all people, and ends up being nothing as a
An important point to establish up front is that, hysterical claims to the contrary aside, the film is *not* an adaptation of the comic character in any more than the most superficial of ways. The filmmakers simply altered the fundamental elements of the character to far too great a degree. The film, then, must be judged on its merits as a film, not as an adaptation.
So how is it as a movie? This one had a lot of potential, and it was hard to watch it fall apart as it went along. Some grumble-inducing moments notwithstanding, it's actually quite good in the early going. It's engaging, well-constructed, and, despite a lot of high-fallutin' monologues about the psychology of fear, never comes across as overly pretentious. The first indication of trouble, however, occurs in this early part of the movie. Bruce Wayne, our future Batman, has been in training with the League of Shadows, a ninja-style group led by Ras al Ghul (Ken Watanabe). Upon his "graduation," Ras explains his master plan. His "explanation" is an utterly incoherent rant about "destroying Gotham," Bruce's home city, for no apparent reason other than that it is "corrupt." As Watanabe rambled, I started giggling. That the film, in standard Hollywood tell-you-what-you're-supposed-to-think-about-what-you're-seeing fashion, presents this as a very somber, serious moment only added to the joke. Bruce, having listened to this, then turns to Ducard (Liam Neeson), the man who'd recruited him into the League, and asks, totally deadpan, if he really believes in all of this, and my giggles turned into outright laughter, shared by others in the theater. It's an embarrassingly idiotic moment that immediately took me out of the mood that had been established.
The film bounces back fairly quickly from this early misstep, though. Back in Gotham, uber-boss Carmine "The Roman" Falcone is very well established; he's a guy who runs everything in a corrupt sewer of a city. A scene wherein he threatens to shoot Bruce in a restaurant full of city officials, convincingly explaining that he could do so and get away with it, is certainly a keeper, and promises much more to come. Why the filmmakers bothered spending so much time and energy setting him up is anyone's guess, though, because nothing much ever does. They could have built a movie, or an entire series of movies upon Bruce's efforts to clean up the town, as they'd established it, but, instead, the mighty Falcone is decimated by the Batman in mere minutes, in ludicrously implausible fashion, none of his power helping him a bit. This is to get him quickly out of the way so the movie can radically switch gears, and the new gear it falls into is near-complete idiocy.
This gear-switching is so jarring because of the two diametrically opposed--and irreconcilible--directions in which the filmmakers tried to take "Begins." The end-product is a cut-and-pasted mess, drawing, almost equally, from great and solidly grounded Batman material, like Frank Miller's "Batman: Year One" (which should have been this movie), and very bad, very dated, and embarrassing comic book stuff from yesteryear featuring motiveless, pretentious, overblown, super-villains with some incredibly idiotic (and laughably inefficient) plot to "destroy" something. When it kicks into this second phase, every minute of the movie seems to be worse than the one before.
The movie essentially disintegrates from the moment Bruce dons the Batman mask. Sitting in the theater, you can almost physically feel the film's IQ drop. Christian Bale, who had done an admirable (if largely unexceptional) Bruce Wayne, never comes close to getting a handle on his characters' alter ego. Indeed, his Batman voice and persona suggest the actor had picked up his direction on how to play the part at the Keanu Reeves School of Acting. When Bruce becomes Batman, all he has to do to rid Gotham of the mighty Falcone is rough up a dozen of his men who are, at that time, in the middle of completing an illegal drug shipment, then attack Falcone and leave him chained and beaten senseless at the scene of the crime. This, we're told, will send Falcone away forever. Uh huh. Then, the filmmakers get to the story they really wanted to tell: Ras al Ghul returns, still looking to "destroy Gotham" for no real reason. His means of doing so is the most ludicrous item in a film filled with ludicrous items, and the final hour of the movie is dedicated to a lot of empty standard-issue Hollywood sound and fury, as the plot plays itself out. Unforgivably, the film's last scene is a straight steal of the great ending of Frank Miller's "Batman: Year One," which only serves to rub salt in the wound the film has created by spoiling the scene for some future filmmaker who may one day want to make a real Batman movie.
I have no tolerance for this sort of thing anymore. If I hadn't been with a friend, I would probably have left long before it was over In the final analysis, "Batman Begins" is inferior, in pretty much every way, to the original Burton flick, and is even less of a Batman movie. For my part, I hope it's going to be ending, rather than beginning, a Batman franchise. I'm rather fond of the character, and have had quite enough of Hollywood dragging him through the mud.
The name of David Goyer among the writing credits made me fear the worse. After all those Zig Zag and Blades appallingness you can hardly blame me. So, you may imagine my surprise to discover that Batman Begins is not only better than the previous Batmans but much better. The genesis of the character as well as inedited insights into the seven mystery years in the life of Bruce Wayne makes the whole enterprise engaging even thrilling. Christian Bale is an American Psycho Batman, pouty lips and unexpected sexual presence. Katie Holmes is lovely, with a sharp intelligence and a riveting imperfect beauty. Michael Caine fills the shoes of the butler with wit and charm. Gary Oldman, looking more Oldman than Gary, adds another surprising characterization to his already impressive gallery. So, very nice. There is still hope in hopeless trends. Who knew.
I thought this movie was absolutely spectacular, I took me by surprise.
I never thought I would see a Batman movie with depth and that showed
the true fear that is the character Batman that he brings to his
enemies. Christian Bale did a excellent job and I truly look forward to
him in another Batman Movie!
The story was absolutely amazing and in my humble opinion very original. Raj Al Ghul is an excellent villain and to portray him in the way he was portrayed was top notch, not to mention he was played very well. Many people I talked to complained that the actor who played him was not of Asian decent. However I believe it truly didn't matter at all.
Not to mention Alfred was great. Gordon (later Commissioner Gordon) was excellent as well.
No other Batman Movie has portrayed Batman truly as the Dark Knight and as I said already I truly look forward to more along these lines.
This is the Batman I have been waiting for! Tim Burton's Batman
(Batman, Batman Returns) movies were good Tim Burton movies, but not
great Batman movies. Joel Schumucher's (Batman Forever, Batman and
Robin) I'm convinced were made to mock the Dark knight and destroy his
good name. But this new one is everything Batman should be and needs to
be. And the villains are all played to perfection! Christopher Nolan is
my favorite director and this (along with Memento) is his best work. If
you see no other movie this year, see Batman Begins.
Note: This is not a prequel to Tim Burton's Batman. This is a completely new Batman movie series.
Forget Michael Keaton, forget Tim Burton....THIS IS THE BATMAN MOVIE!
Perfect casting, actors that NEVER over-do it! Excellent
direction...this movie does what it sets out to do...shows you just how
Bruce Wayne became the "Dark Knight", and makes you actually care about
his personal conflicts and resolve to set things right in old Gotham.
Put it this way...when Christian Bale says, "I'm Batman!" you're glad you're not the person he's saying it to!
And the special effects are dead on. For once, you get just enough techno-babble to explain how the Batman's equipment works. And you get to find out just where "he gets all those marvelous toys" (stolen from Jack Nicholson's Joker character in Tim Burton's "Batman").
Enjoy this one! I'm looking forward to the next installment.
Batman Begins isn't another superhero movie in the line of Spider- Man, the X- Men or the Hulk. In fact, even if you don't care for Batman or any of his costumed colleagues, you can still enjoy this film as a good action- thriller. It doesn't thrive on special effects and big action scenes but offers a decent story with lots of attention to character development. The movie is fairly low tech and because it doesn't rely on computer technology in the way other recent superhero movies do, it has an old school feel to it, kind of like an early 80s fantastic film or even Superman: The Movie. Of course, Batman Begins is much darker than Richard Donner's beauty, but the evolution of both main characters from youths, coming to terms with who they are, to caped crusaders is depicted in a similar way. As far as the actual crime fighting goes, this movie puts right everything that was done wrong in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Our hero's weapons are not covered with blinking lights, but sober and practical: no computer controlled Batarangs, but ninja stars shaped as a bat. No design costume, but military armor, decorated with a cape and mask. The Batmobile is no skyscraper climbing super car, but a rejected army vehicle put to new use that befits the general atmosphere of this movie. Batman doesn't fight villains in shiny outfits who fly around on supersonic gliders or have tentacles as arms. The bad guys in this film are real people: gangsters, a corrupt warden of a psychiatric ward, a martial arts specialist and lots of crooked cops. If you take into consideration that Batman Begins is based on the Year One comics, written by Sin City's Frank Miller, one cannot help noticing the similarity between Robert Rodriguez' newly created world and the one depicted in this movie. In fact, Sin City could just as well be Gotham City without Batman. So forget Joel Schumacher's monstrosities. In fact, Christopher Nolan has even gone one better than Tim Burton and created a credible movie with a good story, realistic characters and the filthiest setting the world's Darkest Knight has ever called home.
Every now and then, an innovative and groundbreaking film emerges and
changes the genre by taking its genre and combining others. Film
schools teach you that talking head movies don't work, but Godfather
showed that captivating dialog and memorable characters could drive a
movie and capture an audience's attention just as well as action. When
this summer is over, Batman Begins will do the same thing for the comic
book genre. It shows that a reality and character driven set piece can
work for these types of movies.
There are NO superpowers in the movie. The villains rely on mastered sword fighting, physical athleticism, and cunning as their vehicles to create chaos. And although there is action, which is done masterfully, (The car chases and hang glide scenes will blow you away)the story is moved completely by its lead character and not the events surrounding him.
The movie is a journey of self discovery. One man's struggle to deal with guilt and anger. And minus the batsuit and batmobile, this movie could stand alone as a powerful drama about self discovery, and would probably even merit Oscar consideration. The acting is superb and this is the first comic book movie to ever leave me with a lump in my throat. The relationship between Alfred and Bruce is completely genuine and heartfelt.
So enjoy the movie and be prepared for an onslaught of copy cat films to come.
Saw an early screening of Begins this weekend and I must say, it lived
up to my expectations.
Something had to be done to rescue our hero's good name. Thankfully, Batman Begins, the start of a whole new series chronicling the origins of the Caped Crusader - does all that and more.
Where Burton's Batman claimed to be dark, this one is genuinely menacing. It's a violent and truly scary film.
Everyone in the movie does a great job in their role ( except Kate Holmes which had more to do with the character then her ) the movie is a trumph of epic proportions. It doesn't leave out much to the imagination, everything is set up to the last drop.
One of the best comics adaptations ever and I cant wait to see it again.
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