Batman Begins

Batman Begins (2005)
★★★★ / ★★★★

After Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) was sent to solitary confinement for fighting six fellow prisoners, Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), representing Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe), invited the richest man in Gotham City, currently on the other side of the world and anonymous, to train and join the League of Shadows. Still angry from the murder of his parents (Linus Roache, Sara Stewart) in the hands of a desperate man (Richard Brake), Bruce accepted. “Batman Begins,” based on the screenplay by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, had a gravitational pull so potent, its more sensitive moments actually managed to rival its most thrilling action pieces: it offered us a believable story that we could sink our teeth into instead of simply expecting us to lick a plate full of sugar and fluff that would inevitably leave us unsatisfied. The level of screenplay was impressive because it focused on the story of Bruce the man through first exploring his formative years prior to delving into Bruce the Batman, a symbol meant to inspire and nudge citizens of Gotham out of their apathy involving the city being ruled by criminals and the corrupt. While Bale was convincing as a man full of rage and thirst of vengeance, his character arc was even more involving despite the fact that the material jumped forward in time several times, especially toward the beginning when one detail after another regarding Bruce’s past were thrown on our laps. By keeping its dramatic momentum intact, it caught and maintained our attention; since we could follow its strands almost every step of the way without too much strain, the rewards were fulfilling. The film had a dark atmosphere, especially with its talk of the undetected depression serving as a catalyst for the common people’s desperation, it managed to have fun without being cartoonish and breaking the mood. For instance, Alfred (Michael Caine), the Wayne’s longtime butler, caretaker, and Bruce’s remaining father figure, was given amusing comments regarding his master’s nightly extracurricular activities. Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), formerly a member of the board in Wayne Enterprises but exiled to the basement after new power took control of the company, also had his share of the spotlight when Bruce paid him a visit for nifty and very expensive gadgets. This gave way to questions I’ve always wondered about such as how the Batcave was discovered, how the Batsuit was assembled, and how the Batmobile looked in its early stages. It even featured one of the most beloved treasures in my toy box when I was a kid: the batarang. The picture was also notable for its intelligent use of its antagonists. Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), one of the biggest crime bosses in the city, was not an ostentatious figure that craved attention. He actually preferred to operate in the shadows but he wasn’t afraid to make threats in public if necessary. Still, he was notorious for his reputation. Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy, zealously creepy behind those glasses), the eventual Scarecrow, was actually more interesting divorced from his mask. No DNA mutation here, just a regular human so willing to push his experiments to the extreme, he was no better than the criminals he surrounded himself with. The topic of fear ran in the veins of “Batman Begins,” directed by Christopher Nolan, and it was handled with profound insight. The screenplay explored the various meanings of the word and how it changed contingent upon the stakes on the table. The film showed respect by treating the audience as thinkers.

12 replies »

      • I liked The Dark Knight Rises very much … I thought it was a satisfying conclusion to Nolan’s trilogy, although I did not find it as supremely satisfying as The Dark Knight. I thought it was a well done, thoughtful film that perhaps had to live up to expectations that may have been a little too high, especially after the massive success of TDK.

        • I think we’re pretty much on the same boat. I ask because I have yet to hear from someone who thinks that TDKR is the better film… in calm and sane way. Hahaha.

          • Well, Franz Patrick, I think even Team Nolan knew they couldn’t match the monumental achievement that is The Dark Knight. I was happy with the story they told in TDKR, and I was supremely happy with the way it ended. No spoiler alerts here, but it’s the ending I wanted, therefore, for me, TDKR really wrapped up the trilogy in a deep and satisfying way.

            I’m very interested to see where the Bat-universe goes from here … all this Justice League movie talk is just talk, and people are crazy if they think Christian Bale will return as the Batman. I have not yet seen Man of Steel, but from what I hear and read, it was not the strong lead-in to a Justice League movie/franchise that DC would have liked, nowhere near what Ironman did for the Marvel universe.

            Nice chatting movies with ya, Franz Patrick!

            • Just call me Franz! :)

              Ah, the very much talked about Justice League movie. To be honest, I don’t really care if there is going to be one. I love good superhero movies, but this franchise mentality is beginning to bug me. Fans of the genre demand so much that when a superhero movie is made quickly to meet their demands, it turns out not so good (i.e. that god-awful “Iron Man 3). I wish this energy is instead rerouted to demanding the studios to support the making of movies worth telling, those with original ideas and, you know, relevant.

              Unlike many, I really enjoyed “Man of Steel” for what it set out to accomplish. I want to refrain from saying more; my review is up and when you’ve seen it, I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

              • I have to agree with you about the whole franchise-baiting aspect of movies these days. Do we absolutely, positively need a Justice League movie … and why do I hear cash registers ringing every time I read about it?

                But with the massive success of The Avengers and with tired, lame old franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Terminator absolutely refusing to go away, the scene is bleak. Throw in Disney’s plans to totally blow up the Star Wars universe with one tie-in film after another, and the future for smaller, more thoughtful and intelligent films gets very dim indeed.
                Speaking of franchises, I couldn’t be happier that The Lone Ranger is tanking big time … the John Carter of 2013.Well deserved!
                And here’s another big complaint of mine: why does the Lone Ranger clock in at 2:30-plus? Is it me, or does it seem that nearly every movie delivered these days has to clock in at well over 2 hours? Half of the time, the stories can be told in 90 minutes, and the rest is padding.
                I could go on and on about that, but I’ll save that for another rant!

                • I have not yet seen “John Carter” but I have a copy of the DVD somewhere in my house.

                  Interesting you mention that movies are getting longer these days! I believe it is the complete opposite in the 80s, 90s. Most movies in those decades are around 90 to 100 minutes or exactly 2 hours, rarely 150 minutes. I guess they want to create an illusion that you get your money’s worth when a movie is long.

                  I think I liked the last “Terminator” movie (with Anton Yelchin). I remember watching it in college. When it ended, my friends immediately expressed their dislike. When I said I enjoyed it, they looked at me like I was crazy.

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