Written by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Running Time: 2:20
for intense action violence,
disturbing images and some thematic elements.
Batman Begins was a good superhero movie, one that did not live up to more recent films in the genre, but was better than the four previous incarnations of the Dark Knight.
Batman Begins tells the story of how Batman came to be. When he was young Bruce Wayne fell into an abandoned well and was scared to death by a large number of bats that came flying past him. Shortly thereafter, he witnessed his parents being murdered on the streets of Gotham City by a random criminal. Years later when his parents' murderer is up for release, Wayne comes back with plans on killing him and getting his revenge. But he is beaten to the punch by an underworld boss and Wayne suddenly realizes he has nothing left to live for in Gotham. So he goes on a worldwide trek and ends up in a Far East prison, where he is discovered by Henri Ducard, who wants to bring Wayne into the vigilante group known as the League of Shadows, lead by one Ra's Al Ghul. When Wayne's ideals conflict with those of the League, he heads back to Gotham, determined to bring the city back to the glory it once held. But Ra's Al Ghul has another plan. He feels that Gotham needs to be destroyed and no one, not even a new legend in the making named Batman, is going to stop him.
I'm not big into the history of Batman, so I don't know how close Batman Begins comes to the original comics. I know that Tim Burton revised history when he had The Joker kill Bruce Wayne's parents, and that a random mugging was the cause in the comics, but beyond that, I don't know much. That being said, like a lot of comic book movies these days, the producers decided to go back to the origins of the characters and show how they came to be. This worked perfectly for the first Spider-Man so there was no reason to think it wouldn't work for the caped crusader. And in that sense, it was fun seeing how things like the cape and Bat car came into being. It's nice to see it all based in some form of reality, rather than having things appear out of nowhere, like say, naming your children Luke and Leia for no apparent reason.
The biggest issue I had was with the plot. The bad guys in the movie, Ra's Al Ghul and The Scarecrow, weren't over the top like say a certain Joker, but that made the movie more believable. It was what they were doing that confused me. I get the idea of making people fear everyone and turn on each other, so the city would destroy itself from the inside out. What I didn't get was the contraption Ra's Al Ghul was using to do it. Give me a second and let me think about it for a second... yeah, no, not getting it. Hold on while I look on other websites to see if someone else can explain it to me... Well, no one seems to be talking about the water/steam thing. I'm not completely sure what was going on, but it had something to do with making water disappear, then bringing it back as steam? Frankly, that part of the movie could have been explained better or just been simpler. I also felt at 140 minutes, the movie was a little too long. There were moments that could have easily been cut out to make the movie move along faster. The little love story ending was completely unnecessary and I think if 20 minutes had been cut, the movie would have flowed better and been more entertaining.
So the big question... how was Christian Bale as Batman? I always thought Michael Keaton was an odd choice for a superhero. George Clooney was overmatched for the role, leaving Val Kilmer probably the best of the bunch, although still not a superhero type. Bale on the other hand seemed to fit into the role much more easily. Maybe it's because we saw him become the character instead of him already being Batman, but it was nice to see the vulnerability of Batman. He wasn't the biggest or strongest guy and in fact Ra's Al Ghul could probably have kicked his ass in a street fight. When he put on the much more flexible mask, you felt like he was a person inside a costume rather than a superhero. Over time he'll become the Legend, but for right now, he's just a guy doing what's right, in a slightly different fashion than most. I'm not sure I liked his pairing with Katie Holmes however. There was nothing wrong with her; she still looked good, has that cute crooked smile of hers working, but they didn't look like they were close to being the same age. Maybe I still think of Katie as little Joey Potter (not that I watched the show) but she looked like she was 10 years younger than Bale, and certainly didn't look like she was old enough to be an Assistant District Attorney. I would have never imagined Liam Neeson could look like he could beat up Christian Bale, but I was impressed by how tough he came out. Ken Watanabe's Ra's Al Ghul was arguably the coolest character in the movie and looked extremely creepy. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine brought a nice old school calm to the film, and added most of the laughs.
The special effects were pretty standard for the day. This movie certainly looked slicker than the previous films, but that's to be expected with the CGI abilities of today vs. yesterday. A lot of the scenery reminded me of an Alex Proyas-type film, so I wonder if Christopher Nolan cribbed some things from Proyas. Now there's a man I'd like to see direct a Batman movie. They did a great job making a man in a burlap sack look scary. I was wondering how they could make a character called The Scarecrow into a terrifying character, but with a puff of smoke and some maggots, they made me jump once or twice. And the devilish Batman face was classic.
The Limited Edition Gift Set comes with a ton of extras. First off you get things like a 128MB flash drive that has images from the theatrical Dark Knight, movie money, postcards and a lenticular postcard which makes it look like bats are flying around. Then there's the actual movie stuff. The first disc has one extra, which is the Jimmy Fallon spoof from the 2005 MTV Movie Awards which was still entertaining 3 years later. The second disc has literally tons of extras. The entire disc is set up as a comic book so each page of the comic may or may not have extras on it. The extras themselves are standard making-ofs with one more of an overview, then others that delve into the making of the Batsuit, the car and the casting. Then there are a bunch of smaller extras that take you deeper into the realm of Batman and Bruce Wayne. Half the fun is trying to figure out where in the comic page you can click to find the extras. But here's a little cheat - if you go all the way to the end of the comic book, on that last page there will be a button you can press that will give you a much easier menu to follow. All in all, the Limited Edition Gift Set is an extremely well put together package and completely worth picking up, even if you already own the movie. It's easily the best DVD package I've ever gotten.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed Batman Begins. I thought it probably could have been a little shorter, and the big evil plot could have been a bit scarier, but it was a good re-start to the franchise and definitely a movie I'd like to see a sequel for.
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