You Must Become More than Just a Man in the Mind of Your Opponent.
Let’s go back in time to roughly 2004. At this point, Batman had fallen on hard times, somewhat devastated by the shit sandwich known as Batman and Robin. So devastating was this movie that it was almost a decade before they put out another one. But this guy, he wanted to reboot the whole series. What kind of bullshit is that? We’ve all seen Batman’s origin story! And you want to throw down your movie against the Tim Burton Batman’s origin story? This has bad written all over it. But, they wanted to take the movie in a darker direction, and it seemed as if they got mostly good people to be in it, so maybe I was judging too harshly. I would still give it a chance. Also, the word “Batman” was in the title, so there was a very good chance I would be seeing it anyway. How could this movie possibly do? We’ll find out as I review Batman Begins, written by David S. Goyer, co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Mark Boone Jr., Ken Watanabe, Linus Roache, Sara Stewart, Richard Brake, and Gus Lewis.
A young Bruce Wayne (Gus Lewis) must leave a play because of his fear of bats. His father Thomas (Linus Roache) and mother Martha (Sara Stewart) escort him into the alley behind the theater where they are murdered in a mugging gone wrong by a desperate criminal, Joe Chill (Richard Brake). Later, when Chill is granted parole if he testifies against crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), Bruce (now Christian Bale) sets his mind on killing him, but is beaten to the punch by one of Falcone’s men. Seeing how corrupt Gotham City has become, Bruce disappears into the world to study the criminal element and train physically and mentally in martial arts. He gets himself arrested and, while imprisoned, he meets a man named Ducard (Liam Neeson), who offers Bruce the opportunity to train with and join the League of Shadows, a group of ninjas led by Ra’s al Ghul with a mind to bring justice to the world but, after training with them, he realizes that their plot is to dispel the evil from Gotham by destroying it and allowing it to rebuild. Bruce says, “Good day,” picks up his hat and spikey gloves, and burns the place to the ground, killing Ra’s and saving the life of Ducard. Bruce is picked up by his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) and returns to Gotham to use his new skills and a pointy cowl to bring justice to Gotham in his own way. Correct me if I’m wrong, but is Ra’s al Ghul immortal? Are his methods supernatural? Eh, it’ll probably never come up…
I tried, probably in vain, to act like I wouldn’t like this movie. I can’t imagine anyone didn’t see right through that. Of course this movie is awesome. With each new reboot of the Batman it gets darker and better. The old Adam West Batman was goofy and fun, then Tim Burton put out a much darker and more serious Batman with Michael Keaton that got goofier and more terrible over time as George Clooney took over the role. What Christopher Nolan gives us is the darkest and most realistic look at the Caped Crusader we’ve ever seen, and probably the best Batman movie that had ever been released up to that point, renewing the faith of the fans that had been trampled down over the years. I can’t recall if I went into this movie thinking that it couldn’t possibly be better than the Tim Burton Batman, but I would say it succeeded. And, just as great, they went with some fantastic villains that we hadn’t seen in the movies prior: Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul. I loved the realism in the movie as well. Everything they changed they changed for the better, and all of it seemed like it could really happen. The armor, the memory cloth cape, all of the setup stuff. I don’t know that any of that stuff really exists, but it feels like it does. The Tumbler seemed much more realistic, but I must admit that I miss the Batmobile from the first movie. It’s an acceptable substitute. Even the villains were more realistic. Ra’s al Ghul stayed immortal with the use of the Lazarus Pit in the comic books; here he uses deception to spread the legend of Ra’s al Ghul as immortal. Scarecrow was never all that unrealistic. It’s probably not that hard to find an inhalant that will make you trip balls. The only real issue I took with the story of the movie is that the fat cop was made out to be a dick for telling the guy he took food from that he should feed his kids falafel. That’s just good logic right there.
No one should’ve been surprised that the greater majority of the people were able to bring it. They got some fantastic actors to participate in this thing. Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman; so many great actors that deliver in every way. And Katie Holmes is in the movie too. That’s perhaps harsh. She actually did a fine enough job. Not spectacular, but certainly not bad. Christian Bale is probably the best performance in this movie as far as I’m concerned. He really gives three performances. The Bruce Wayne he puts on is mostly for show; what he’s been told a billionaire playboy would act like. Then there’s the real guy, who is much more serious, but still finds the time to toss quips back and forth with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman – both of which bring a great deal of snarky comedy with their lines. Then, of course, the Batman, who is always serious and speaks in a super gravelly voice that does grate on the nerves, but I didn’t take that much issue with it. I think I more took issue with how breathless it always made him seem. It was as if … he couldn’t do … more than three … words at a … time … like that …
Batman Begins is awesome. One could argue that it starts out a little slowly as we have to sit through the origin story that the bulk of us were already familiar with, but once it gets moving, it gets moving. This is the exact type of Batman movie the world wanted. Or, in the very least, it’s the one I wanted. The action is fantastic, the darkness and the realism are amazing, and the performances are top of the line. I love you, Batman. And you, Christopher Nolan. Something tells me I might be saying that once or twice more in the next couple of days. Come back to find out. For now, Batman Begins gets “You’re not the devil. You’re practice” out of “Death does not wait for you to be ready!”
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