Review: Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins

Batman Begins

Rating



Director

Christopher Nolan

Screenplay

Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer (Comics: Bob Kane)

Length

141 min.

Starring

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe, MarkBoone Junior, Linus Roache, Morgan Freeman

MPAA Rating

PG-13 (For intense action violence, disturbing images and some thematic elements)

Buy/Rent Movie

Soundtrack

Poster

Source Material

Review

It began sixteen years ago. It died eight years later. Now, it has been reborn. The fifth live-action Batman movie is the beginning of a new franchise.

Batman Begins takes us back to the origin of the caped crusader. Bruce Wayne was just a child when his parents were killed in an alley by a desperate vagabond. He never forgave himself for the tragedy and, when he grew up, he escaped his wealthy heritage to live amongst criminals abroad.

He later trains at a mountain-borne monastery where he learns much of his fighting and defensive techniques. Bruce (Christian Bale) returns to Gotham City where corruption abounds and his corporation is in the midst of a takeover by its board in an effort to hide the loss of a military weapon that vaporizes the water supply of a small area.

Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) has led a campaign against the corruption of the city. With the help of a villain named Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), he hopes to bring the city to its knees, but Wayne, who takes on the moniker Batman, loves the city and believes it to be savable stops at nothing to stop his enemies from killing everyone in Gotham.

There are many players in this Batman film and, unlike its predecessor Batman & Robin , Batman Begins manages to effectively build every character down to the future commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman). Christopher Nolan, who wrote and directed the mesmerizing Memento has managed to resurrect the Batman franchise with a film that promises to keep the series afloat for some time, but only if he continues as writer and director.

There are many beginnings in the film. We re-discover, in more detail, the origin of Batman. We see the beginning of his relationship with company inventor Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman).The audience finds a new and credible actor as Batman and Bruce Wayne, Bale. The series begins anew with a more realistic vision of the Batman storyline. All accomplished within nearly two-and-a-half hours.

The cast stands head and shoulders above the talentless group that filled Batman & Robin. Bale, Oldman, Michael Caine (as Wayne butler and confidant Alfred) and Liam Neeson (as Ra’s Al Ghul’s toady Henri Ducard) are all superb with Murphy and Freeman giving suitably credible performances. Katie Holmes as Batman’s love interest Rachel Dawes isn’t spectacular despite a well-developed character.

Tim Burton created fantasy films when he filmed the original Batman and its sequel Batman Returns. He elicited fantastic performances and set a wonderfully dark tone. Whereas Burton built the franchise, Joel Schumacher destroyed it with his weak but popular Batman Forever and his abysmal bomb Batman & Robin each drifting further into banality from the original films and featuring a noticeable lack of realism. With Burton, at least the circumstances of each villain’s history and their terrorism of the city seemed possible. Schumacher made everything improbable and managed miscast everyone in Batman & Robin. Thankfully, we have someone with a palpable talent helming the revival of the series, this time in a dark and realistic setting.

Batman Begins is the perfect film to bring the year out of its glut of disappointing releases and makes going to the movies fun.

Review Written

August 9, 2005

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