Batman Begins


      What a pleasant surprise! I have to admit, when I first heard the rumors of another Batman film, my heart just sank knowing that once again, Hollywood is trying to sink itself. Then the cast was announced - Christian Bale (da bomb - see "American Psycho"), Michael Caine (oh yeah), Liam Neeson (Jedi-esque), Tom Wilkinson (hell yes), Cillian Murphy ("28 Days Later" rocked), Morgan "I have a gold statue" Freeman, Gary Oldman (wow), Katie Holmes (mmm-hmm), and Rutger Hauer (well, no movie is perfect). What movie has a cooler cast than that? These veteran actors, some with Oscars and others with nominations, help bring this story to life. Holmes' character is a bit dry, but does it really matter when she is literally being swept off her feet by a giant flying bat or looking into the "face" of a bubbling, worm-ridden villain on a fire-breathing horse?

      The next thing I saw were the one sheet posters released over two months ago. Then finally, the icing on the cake...NO JOEL SCHUMACHER! Christopher Nolan, took the reigns on this one. He hasn't done much ("Insomnia" & "Memento"), but I knew that with a bigger budget he could create great things...and he has. Batman is no longer the stupid joke telling idiot running around with incompetent side-kicks and ridiculous painted up characters from the 60's campy TV show. Batman is now a kicker of ass.

      "Batman Begins" is exactly what this lame franchise needed - a kick into high gear without the camp. I dare say that this film is at least on par with Tim Burton's film from 1989 if not better. And actually that movie wasn't all that great, it was really just Jack as the Joker who stole the show and made it what it was. This film has all the right ingredients: well-done and intense action sequences, interesting characters, great acting, a great story with a well written script by David Goyer (Blade, Dark City, The Crow) and best of all, it stayed true to the original works of the 30's; in which the bat is a dark vigilante fighting for good and justice in an unjust way.

      The story revolves around how, ironically enough, Batman begins. It explains how Bruce Wayne is trained in martial arts, where does his obsession with bats come from and answers Jack Nicholson's question, "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" Everything has been re-spun. The Batmobile is now almost tank-like; yet still super fast and has a few new tricks up it's sleeve. The costume is similar to the 90's version, sans the nipples.

      I am soooo sick of super-hero films. They are piss-poor and boring. Let's look at the list: Daredevil (Ben Affleck), Hulk (Eric Bana), the last three Batman movies, Spiderman (over-rated; I don't know why these films do so well), X-Men, Fantastic Four (not released yet), Phantom, Flash, Hellboy...I could go on and on. Finally though, one that delivers.

      This film is not supposed to be a prequel to the films of Burton and Schumacher. It is a story all of itself. It is very dark and is not for the the little ones. Most “Batman” films only celebrate the hero’s actions, rejoicing when he creatively turns the tables on his nemeses. But really, the “Batman” universe should be a bit more complicated than that. And "Batman Begins" explores that realm. Right from the get-go it is violence and fear. Fear is the underlying ultimate villain in this story. Fear is a weapon and a defense and can make you stronger, but it can also tear you apart. Very Star Wars like that way. In fact, Liam has a few Sith like lines that draws quite a few parallels.

      In short, the true Dark Knight is back, and he delivers us from evil on so many levels. Two and a half hours is a bit long, and the real action doesn't really get going for an hour or so, but once it does, step back or sit forward and get ready. It is smashing good fun and by far the best super-hero movie I've seen in 15 years.


Links:
The Movie Blog's audio review (talks about jiggling cameras in fight scenes and why Katie Holmes sucks)
Anything and everything about the dark knight








drewbacca@moviepatron.com