" Batman Begins is exactly what a Batman movie is supposed to be - dark, atmospheric, and creepy. The franchise has officially been saved. "
Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: June 15, 2005
After his parents were brutally gunned down before his eyes, young Bruce Wayne must decide how to respond. Constantly tormented by guilt and anger, Wayne tries to reconcile his desire for revenge with his need to continue his family's philanthropic legacy. He eventually vanishes from Gotham and travels the world, seeking to educate himself in the ways of the criminal mind so that he'll know how to defeat his enemy. A vigilante group, the League of Shadows (headed by Ra's al Ghul), wants him on their side, but he refuses. When he returns to Gotham, he finds that the city is consumed by crime and corruption. The justice system is now as polluted as the criminal system, and as a result, notorious criminals easily escape conviction. Wayne has no choice but to release his inner superhero - Batman - and execute his own brand of justice on the decaying city. However, his biggest challenge comes when the League of Shadows appears with its own plan to clean the streets of Gotham. An exploration of the origins of the Batman legend and his emergence as a force for good in Gotham ensues.MY TAKE
“He’s unpredictable, his actions may be questionable, his motivations less than pure. Yet we know he is ultimately a force for good,” says Christian Bale. “This complexity makes Batman the coolest of superheroes.”
The failure to fully capture that complexity is the major short-falling of all previous incarnations of the Batman character, a character with three main facets: Batman, the masked warrior who is a channel of Bruce Wayne’s rage; the private Bruce Wayne, a scarred man who is dedicated to ridding Gotham of the type of evil that killed his parents; and the public face of Bruce, a spoiled playboy who’d never be suspected of caring about the city’s decline into debauchery.
Batman Begins is the first of the movie franchise to fully develop the character, all while keeping him and his origins grounded in reality. It’s a perfect introduction, especially for the uninitiated. His uniform and gadgets all have practical origins (military prototypes) and practical applications, and Christopher Nolan is to be applauded for putting forth the effort to make us believe that Batman could actually exist and that it doesn’t all just happen by magic.
The “reality” of Batman is another reason he has always been my favorite superhero – he’s a character we can all relate to on some level. Bruce Wayne has to deal with feelings of intense guilt, anger, loneliness, and confusion. The pain of loss and the outrage at injustice is familiar to most of us. We all need an outlet to vent our anger and turn our negative emotions into positive actions, and the Batman character does this in a more believable fashion than most superheroes. He’s a regular guy (albeit with tons of money) with no real “super powers” who uses what’s available to him to fight for justice.
But the most important thing about the character is that he exists on the edge between good and bad. His parents were BRUTALLY MURDERED in front of him, so it’s about time we see a Batman who is filled with a little more anger than someone who’s slightly miffed that he witnessed someone kick his dog. The real Batman doesn’t whip out a Bat credit card with an expiration date of “Forever” claiming he never leaves the cave without it. Criminals aren’t nice guys, so Batman has to be dark enough to strike terror in their hearts, and Bale is the first actor to accurately portray all three facets of the character, and he’s definitely the only one who really brings the dark edge that embodies Batman. He plays it intense and to the extreme.
For me, this is exactly what a Batman movie is supposed to be – dark, atmospheric, and creepy. Bale portrays Batman as a man who is more interested in revenge than he is in cracking one-liners. He shows that Batman has a potentially violent side, and I loved it.
My main complaint – and it’s a minor one – is that some of the fighting suffers from the Bourne Identity Syndrome. At times things are just too close and hectic to tell who is who and what exactly is going on. Pull the camera BACK! I would like to actually see the action. I know Nolan felt this style gave it a grittier feel and wanted to stay away from choreographed, dance-like fighting, so in that regard it makes sense.
I have to admit, Joel Schumacher and George Clooney nearly erased all good memories I had of Batman. Fortunately, Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan have restored them. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when Batman tells one of his enemies, “I’m not going to kill you. But I don’t have to save you.”
I’m happy to report that although that enemy might have suffered a dubious fate, at least the franchise has officially been saved.
ODDS & ENDS
- Ra’s Al Ghul is Arabic for “The Demon’s Head.”
- Before the shooting began, Christopher Nolan invited the whole film crew to a private screening of Blade Runner. After the film he said to the whole crew, “This is how we’re going to make Batman.”
- Katie Holmes’ character, Rachel Dawes, is the only main character in Batman Begins who is not based on one from the comic books. Nolan and David Goyer created the character to “represent the life Bruce Wayne might have if he weren’t tied into his destiny of having to create a very dark alter ego through which he helps people.”
- Every aspect of the Tumbler was custom-made, from the wheels to the chassis to the bodywork. Special effects workshop supervisor Andrew Smith and his team built five fully operational, gas-powered Tumblers from scratch.
- The Tumbler got up to 105 mph during its big chase scene (which is awesome, by the way). Cars rarely go more than 50 to 60 mph in a chase sequence.
- The Movie Mark owns a 1969 Camaro. Although it’s dark green, friends in high school referred to it as the Batmobile.
- After getting down to 121 lbs for his role in The Machinist, Bale was so weak that he couldn’t even do a single push up.
- The Movie Mark once won a push up contest for his high school wrestling team. He got to 60 and could’ve kept on going, but everybody else had quit.
- Christian Bale is in American Psycho with Josh Lucas who is in Coastlines with Josh Brolin who is in Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon.
Rated PG-13 for intense action violence, disturbing images and some thematic elements, Batman Begins doesn't offer much that will offend you. However, parents should use good judgment with little children. It's a little too dark and scary for the youngest of movie-goers. There is a light amount of profanity (one instance of both G-d**n and a-hole).