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Christopher Nolan's 2005 film based upon the origins of the DC Comics character.

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The Fourth (or is the Fifth) Installment Finally Gets it Right

  • Jun 21, 2005
  • by
Rating:
+3
Pros: Nicely done script; stellar action (well almost); great special effects.

Cons: Ms. Holmes was out of her element; the Bat Mobile lacked grace and style.

The Bottom Line: All and all Batman Begins was a very enjoyable movie, and holds fairly true to the comic book rendering of Batman’s story.

I have never been a big fan of the DC comic book heroes with the exception of Superman and Batman, but I have been getting more acquainted with them by watching Teen Titans and Justice League Unlimited on Cartoon Network on Saturday nights (yes I, admit it I watch cartons!). Batman reins supreme as the only comic book hero (that I know of) who is not endowed with superpowers; he is instead suffused with an overwhelming devotion to the cause of justice, which sprang from watching his (wealthy) parents killed in from of him at a very young age. The first Batman movie touch on this back-story all too briefly, leaving one to wonder how the young boy became the Dark Knight and a man clad in black in the guise of a bat.

Wonder no more. Batman Begins, the forth installment in the Batman franchise answers a number of vexing question about the origins of Batman brilliantly, taking us back before the murder of young Bruce Wayne’s parents to the very doorstep of the boys first introductions with first bats, and then the violent death of his parents. Both encounters scare him and mar him with fear, and as the movie unfolds we learn how the boy grows into a man still harboring a fear for bats and an anger that his parents’ murder was never properly graced by lady liberty, at least in his own mind. This leads the young Bruce Wayne on a journey of understanding, both of himself and of the criminal element.

This time Batman / Bruce Wayne is portrayed almost to perfection by Christian Bale (American Psycho, Shaft, Reign of Fire). Bale brings a certain aura of creditability to the character missing since Michael Keaton first donned the black tights and cape. Bruce Wayne’s journey into the underbelly of humanity eventually lands him in Chinese prison where he encounters Ducard portrayed by Liam Neeson (Next of Kin, Schindler’s List, Rob Roy), a man who heads a shadowy organization that wants to recruit Wayne to help it dispense justice without compassion. Ducard helps Wayne purge and master his fear and to use it against an opponent. He is also schooled in the finer points of martial arts and sword play, as well as the dark art of Ninjitsu. But after Ducard insists Bruce kill a man for a stealing, Wayne learns what the organization is really after: justice at any cost, and by any means necessary. Wayne rejects the brotherhood (violently), and makes it back to Gotham City.

Once home Bruce Wayne slowly become Batman with the help of him trusty and loyal butler Alfred, portrayed by Michael Caine, and Lucius Fox, portrayed by Morgan Freeman, Wayne Industries technology wizard. He is also re-acquainted with a childhood friend Rachel Dawes portrayed by a woefully miscast Katie Holmes (Disturbing Behavior, The Gift, Phone Booth). We also introduced to the future Commissioner Jim Gordon portrayed by Gary Oldman (Henry & June, Dracula, The Fifth Element).

The evolution (dare I use that term in mixed company) of Bruce Wayne into Batman is handled by director Christopher Nolan with aplomb, which is not to say that the script was perfect. There were some holes, but they were minor when compared to the overall story, which finally answers some age old questions about the origins of Batman.

Gotham City, which has always taken its form and function from New York City, has morphed into Chicago; indeed portions of the movie were shot in Chicago. The CGI remake of the city complete with triple-decker elevated trains was spectacular, and brilliantly conceived.

Most of the movie in which Batman is present in full regalia is dark; indeed we hardly ever get to see the Batman standing tall as it were, he is a shadow, a blur of black vengeance and justice, and he is to be feared. He is no mere man, but an enigma with cool toys who owns the night. Which brings me to the Batmobile. I didn’t like this incarnation; it is ungainly, ugly, very un-bat like, and not something Batman should be driving. We can only hope that in future installments (and there will be future installments if ending and the box office returns are any indicators), the Batmobile is cleaned up and given a more graceful appearance.

All and all Batman Begins was a very enjoyable movie, and holds fairly true to the comic book rendering of Batman’s story. Villains this time around: Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), and the aforementioned Ducard. Next up, The Joker perhaps…stay tuned.


Recommended:
Yes

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More Batman Begins reviews
review by . July 26, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    As a child, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) was subjected to not one but two majorly traumatic events. The first was when he fell into the well just outside of his house and was greeted by a swarm of bats at the bottom, causing him to develop a phobia for the animals. The second was when his phobia took over him at an opera that he was attending with his parents, provoking the three of them to step outside, where the mugger Joe Chill was waiting with a loaded …
review by . November 30, 2010
Once upon a time, Batman fans were disappointed with the aftertaste left by the disastrous Joel Schumacher films. A producer named Christopher Nolan heard their cries and decided to take the franchise back to its roots with Batman Begins. He went back to the dark storyline and rich character development that made the first two original batman movies great, as opposed to the campiness and kid-friendliness of the Schumacher movies. Boy did this work.      This is nowhere near …
Quick Tip by . August 30, 2010
Thoroughly engrossing and clear headed retelling of the Dark Knight's origins, making sure all the nails are hammered down, our hero learns from his mistakes and saves a scummy Gotham City. Fantastic.
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Steller reintroduction to the Dark Knight after an 8 year absnece and showing his roots, his motives and really getting me to care about Batman again.
review by . December 19, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Poster
After the first Batman franchise was driven into the ground by a succession of terrible sequels, it seemed unlikely that there would ever be a respectable Batman film again. But then there came a hope from an unexpected source. Christopher Nolan (director of Following and Memento) wanted to reinvent the character in a more realistic and epic way. He teamed up with screenwriter David S. Goyer (The Blade Trilogy and Dark City) and together they wrote an exceptionally smart screenplay.   …
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2010
Best installment of Batman yet. Really deep plot twists and cohesive story that holds together better than ever.
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Christopher Nolan completely revitalized the Batman franchise. The making of the man was interesting but the culmination of the film seemed to lose the grounding that made the film so compelling from the outset. The scoring definitely made this film.
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Most beleivable of the Batmans
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Amazing! One of the best renditions of a Batman movie.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
very good, turning point in the batman series
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie

Wiki

Batman Begins discards the previous four films in the series and recasts the Caped Crusader as a fearsome avenging angel. That's good news, because the series, which had gotten off to a rousing start under Tim Burton, had gradually dissolved into self-parody by 1997'sBatman & Robin. As the title implies,Batman Beginstells the story anew, when Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) flees Western civilization following the murder of his parents. He is taken in by a mysterious instructor named Ducard (Liam Neeson in another mentor role) and urged to become a ninja in the League of Shadows, but he instead returns to his native Gotham City resolved to end the mob rule that is strangling it. But are there forces even more sinister at hand?

Cowritten by the team of David S. Goyer (a veteran comic book writer) and director Christopher Nolan (Memento), Batman Begins is a welcome return to the grim and gritty version of the Dark Knight, owing a great debt to the graphic novels that preceded it. It doesn't have the razzle dazzle, or the mass appeal, of Spider-Man 2 (though the Batmobile is cool), and retelling the origin means it starts slowly, like most "first" superhero movies. But it's certainly the best Bat-film since Burton's original, and one of the best superhero movies of its time. Bale cuts a good figure as Batman, intense and dangerous but with some of the lightheartedness Michael Keaton brought to the character. Michael Caine...

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Details

Director: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: June 15, 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: October 18, 2005
Runtime: 2hrs 20min
Studio: Legendary Pictures, Syncopy Films, Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Studios
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