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

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The Making of a Legend - The Nature of Fear

  • Oct 30, 2005
This is the way it should be: an ordinary man who rises above tragedy and his own guilt and fear to become something more. A legend. An icon. The Batman.

"Batman Begins" does not flinch for a moment in its portrayal of the origins of the Dark Knight. We do not even see the Batman we know until the film is half over. What we see first is Bruce Wayne, his tragic childhood and the burdens he carries as an adult, and finally the choices he makes that turn him into a symbol for hope in the face of dark times and evil people. This is how we come to understand how a man can become so driven, so focused, so honed and balanced, like a weapon always prepared to strike. The first act of "Batman Begins" shows us not only his physical training, but his mental and spiritual rigor as well. We come to understand the man beneath the mask, before he ever puts the mask on.

And then, when he does finally don the familiar cowl and cape, it is so much more powerful, so much more bellievable than it ever has been before. We see a man who understands what the nature of fear is, and for the rest of the film he uses it against his enemies, the criminals who are tearing his city apart, and those who threaten to tear it down completely. Because as much as "Batman Begins" is about the creation of the legend that is Batman, it is also about fear. Coming to understand one's fears, to face them down, and finally to use them as tools. Bruce Wayne understands this when he puts on the mask and the cape, and one of his foes understands it as well. The nature of fear forms the subtext and undercurrent of this powerful film.

And what a film it is. The casting is ideal, from Christian Bale as the best Bruce Wayne/Batman dichotomy to ever grace the screen, to Gary Oldman as the perfect Sergeant (soon to be Commissioner?) Gordon, to Liam Neeson as...well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The direction of Christopher Nolan captures with crystal clarity, and for the first time on screen, the dual aspects of the Batman character -- the man, and the hero. The musical score, a unique partnership of Hans Zimmer's dramatic style and James Newton Howard's understated themes, suits the film beautifully, carrying the dramatic aspects while avoiding the use of a catchy theme. The story is well-paced, with a good blend of finely-tuned character development and high-octane action to keep it interesting, leading up to a pulse-pounding conclusion that will leave you breathless.

I'm inescapably reminded of "Unbreakable," the only other film I can think of which takes the concept of a comic-book hero and deals with it in a real-world context. Both films share a grounding in reality, a hope that things can be better than they are, and an emotional center which should resonate in even the most cynical heart. Chances are good that if you like "Unbreakable," you'll like "Batman Begins," and vice-versa.

At last, you can forget Joel Schumacher's Batman flops, and you can even lay aside Tim Burton's efforts at bringing the Batman to the screen. Finally, in "Batman Begins," we have a film that treats the Batman as he should be treated -- a complex character who is both legend and man, who looks his fear in the eye and brings a new understanding of fear to his enemies, who buries himself inside a cocoon built of his own doubts, fears, and guilt but emerges as a changed man, free to fly above darkened streets.

"Batman Begins" is certainly one of the best comic-book movies ever made, primarily because it treats the subject seriously and honestly, but more than that, it is a challenging film that confronts the subject of fear and the nature of heroism head-on. Here is where we see that being a hero doesn't mean having special powers or abilities...a hero is defined by the choices he makes, and by the actions he takes.

Truly, a brilliant film.

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November 02, 2010
Excellent review. I loved The Dark Knight but I have to say, I cannot exactly say that it was superior...I still cannot decide LOL!
November 03, 2010
Totally agreed! Dark Knight is a more complex movie in some ways, but they're both excellent.
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
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
Rich Stoehr ()
Ranked #78
I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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About this movie


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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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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