Monday, June 27, 2005

[Movie review] Batman Begins

The Batman movies have all been generally bad. The worst being the awful "Batman and Robin" with Arnold playing the character of Mr. Freeze. So, I did not really expect Batman Begins to be anywhere near good, in spite of being directed by Christopher Nolan, of Memento and Insomnia fame. The trailers did look promising but the title didn't. Batman Begins? What kind of a title is that? Very unimaginative, in my opinion. So, though the trailers were quite attractive, all I expected was a two hour action movie that in some way would chronicle the rise of Batman.
Batman's early beginnings are bit of a mystery but his parent's deaths are pretty well-known for the emotional impact it had on young Bruce and the reason for his becoming Batman, the terror of Gotham's criminals. It is also a well-known fact that Bruce feels guilt for the single most devastating event of his life and how it has really shaped his thinking.
Batman fan would also know that Batman is always on the edge of darkness; on the threshold of being a good guy and becoming a beast, a fact that Joker uses quite regularly to taunt him into doing something quite beastly. He is unlike other superheroes, not only in that that he doesnt have any super-powers but also that is he is not completely goody-goody, incorruptible hero but is one who is human being susceptible to anger, violence, etc like any other human being and that is something that the comic fans like the most.
None of the earlier Batman movies were able to bring out the complexities of the Batman character or that of Bruce Wayne. They have all been focused on giving the audience a thrill ride with uber-cool stunts and gadgets, and are thus, generally despised by Batman fans.
The new Batman movie does have some good action but the focus is not on the action but on the evolution of Batman. It starts with the introdcution of Bruce's fear of the bats and his guilt for the death of his parents and then, goes on to show us his complete disenchantment with life and his curiosity about the criminal mind.
Enter Liam Neeson, as Ducard, who takes up the training and shaping of Bruce's induction into the League of Shadows but Bruce refuses to do what he thinks is wrong.
Bruce returns to Gotham and resumes his high-profile life, along with the birth of Batman. The film then traces Batman's first, clumsy attempts at being the "Dark Knight" and the sophistication of his equipment, methodologies, and symbols. The batmobile is quite unlike the ones we have seen before, which have invariable been sleek, sexy machines. This one is really is a tank and "comes in black"! It is not sleek but is definitely an effective transport for Batman's entries and exits (and not just through the waterfall).
The music is racy, and weel attuned to the pace of the movie which races past the several milestones in the creation of the Caped Crusader. The acting is good in general and the casting has been great, well, except for maybe Katie Holmes. Didn't really liek her in this movie. She sounded crass and her relationship with Bruce is not well-sketched. The casting is great because of the fact that Caine makes a great Alfred and Neeson makes a great villain and Ken Watanabe makes a ninja warriors' leader! Of course, Christian Bale does a decent job as the Batman but I couldnt help wondering why they could not find a better and more imposing actor...
Since it is a Nolan movie, I really do not need to eloborate on the technical aspects of the movie, which were without blemish. The best scene was that of Batman standing on the top of a Gotham skycraper, watching down on the streets, recreating the gothic look and feel of the comics.
Also, the comic relief nevre forced and is just at the appropriate timings and never exceeds more that is necessary. Liked the "Didnt you get the memo?" and "Actually sir, I was thinking about myself."
I have read reviewers that have generally trashed this film but interestingly praise the Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt starrer Mr and Mrs Smith! They really piss me off...
Anyway, the movie is worth more than a look as it is a great flick, much better than the Spidey adventures 1 and 2, and certainly better than the previous Batman movies.


pseudonym said...

ur review echos my thoughts as well... but i guess that morgan freeman performance was worth mentioning as well :)

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