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Batman Begins (2005)
Batman Begins Condensed Review
Got to take in the Midnight show of "Batman Begins" this evening with Ms. Addiction. Felt like writing up a little review, per the norm, so here we go.
Batman is back with a vengeance. In what could quite possibly be the greatest casting in comic book movie history, virtual unknown, Christian Bale's performance single handily breathed new life back into the once downward spiraling super hero franchise. From the opening of the film, and the new DC Comics logo, I knew all in attendance were in for a treat.
"Batman Begins" serves as a prequel to the 1989 live action film that started it all, directed by Tim Burton. In "Begins", we're treated to a solid hour of Bruce Wayne's chronology and how the bat came to fruition. Introduced are Alfred (Michael Caine) as well as Wayne's parents via a series of flashbacks, cut in with present day episodes. These, a la "Godfather 2", clued viewers in to the origins and birth of the Dark Knight. Intense training montages between Bale and the always impressive Liam Neeson were just the beginning, dazzling to watch accompanied by the breathtaking landscapes.
Act two weaves a story of how Wayne's once industrious hometown of Gotham City has become overrun by crime and violence, in desperate need of a heroic savior. Wayne, a supposed avid spelunker, stumbles upon a cave under his age old mansion, there, learning to embrace his fears, giving birth to his alter-ego, and thus finding motivation to save his hometown. Enter shady individuals like crime boss Falcone, and Jonathan Crane, aka "Scarecrow", brilliantly portrayed by "28 Days Later" star Cillian Murphy. Always looming in the background is Wayne's love interest, Rachel, played by Katie Holmes. While his guilt is outweighed by something else, Bale digs deep to take the law into his own hands, while exorcising his personal demons, ridding Gotham of the infestation.
What surprised me most about the film was how it felt less like the colorful, flashy, quippy comic book films were so used to. Batman was indeed dark, back to the Burton way of things, Only this time, he's got the machismo, the cunning, and the inner anger that the character was so sorely lacking. Bale equals perfection, as I said. In addition, he was surrounded by absolute Grade A supporting talents. Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Liam Neeson, Rutger Hauer, Gary Oldman! It's a dream cast, and it flowed like such. The collective was absolutely incredible. The films presentation was also very intriguing, giving Batman a complexity to go with the newly uncovered origins.
My complaints are VERY few and far between, and lie mainly in chronology and continuity. If this were to serve as a prequel to the Burton original, there are flaws in the time line. In the original Batman, his parents were killed in 1922. Then in Burton's film, it was closer to 1955, then in "Begins", it had to be around 1997, as there was clearly a Black 1999 Oldsmobile Aurora at Wayne Manor for the funeral, meaning "Begins" was actually taking place closer to 2010-2015? This was never really cleared up. Also, if Chill killed Wayne's parents, was Jack Napier lying in Burton's "Batman"? Overall, I can say that this is easily the best cast comic book film of all time, and quite possibly the best Super Hero film I've ever seen. The adult theme worked, and was a welcome change. I'm glad to see Christopher Nolan resurrect the Bat, salvaging its dignity, with David Goyer's redeeming co-writing, after the atrocity that was "Blade: Trinity".