retro review: batman begins

The Batman Movie I was Waiting to See

This review follows on from my post on the rebooting of movie franchises.  I was inspired to watch this movie again and write a review.  In this case the Studio decided to go back to the beginning and entrusted the Batman franchise to Christopher Nolan who if I’m not mistaken was best known for Memento at the time.

The movie follows the journey of a young Bruce Wayne who becomes an orphan and loses his way in life before an encounter with powerful local hoodlum Carmine Falcon (Tom Wilkinson) leads him to explore the seedy underbelly of the world.  The journey eventually leads him into contact with the mysterious Ducard (Liam Neeson) who offers him the chance to learn how to take the fight back to Gotham City.

There’s more to the story than this but I am always keen to leave it to individuals to discover a film for themselves.  The first thing I want to say is that the film finally leaves behind the manic, over-the-top, uber comic book tone of the previous efforts.  It feels believable which is a massive achievement for a movie which features a man in a bat suit.  The complete first act has no signs of the Batman.  It’s all about character development so when the action begins you absolutely understand the motivations of the main protagonists.

The acting is top notch.  It turned Christian Bale into the star he is today.  Before his appearance in Batman he was probably best known for American Psycho (2000).  He has since gone onto The Prestige (2006), The Fighter (2010), and American Hustle (2013).  Michael Caine does a decent job as the butler Alfred, and there is excellent support from the ever reliable Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox.  I want to make a special mention for Cillian Murphy as Dr Jonathan Crane who is brilliantly creepy and steals every scene he’s in.  The one weak link is Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes who god bless her is out of her depth outside Dawsons Creek.

I’m supposed to offer balance but beyond Katie Holmes I have no major issues with this film.  I love it.  I enjoy The Dark Knight Rises (2012) a little more, it’s a little bit more polished, but that movie had the advantage of building on the foundations laid in the previous two films.  Some of the dialogue (“it’s what’s underneath that matters”) is a bit icky but ultimately it doesn’t take me out of the movie.

I am really intrigued by the casting of Ben Affleck as an older Batman.  I am really worried about the Batman/Superman project because I was one of those who hated, Hated, HATED, Man of Steel (2013).  Still, all of my fingers and toes are crossed.  Please, Please, PLEASE, Mr Snyder don’t screw this up.

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