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Batman Begins (2005)

  Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: David S. Goyer, Bob Kane, Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman
Links: Batman Begins on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Batman Begins (2005) is also mentioned in andy-j's review of The Machinist (2004) and pearly's review of War of the Worlds (2005).

"Corny, yet strangely fascinating" - a review by pearly

This film was my first Batman experience, and I have to say that, on the whole, I was fairly impressed. Batman Begins is a standalone story which simply utilises the well-known background of the character to get it going. As we begin, we see the character of Bruce Wayne as a young boy with his parents, going through the tragedy which leads to their deaths, with him at their sides. And then, we cut to the adult Bruce (Christian Bale), a man who has dropped out of society and ended up imprisoned, because, as we later learn, he is carrying around a lot of guilt about his parents, and this is the only way that he feels he can survive.

This opening portion of the film was a little slow moving, and for the first hour or so, Batman himself wasn't even revealed. That's something that you have to wait for, and the wait is just a little too long. The inspiration for these opening segments seems to have come from martial arts films, and perhaps even a bit of Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003) is in there too. This is just the first of many comparisons to other films that can be easily made whilst watching Batman Begins (the most obvious one being Spider-Man (2002), which it is similar to in many ways).

Once this lengthy scene-setting part of the film ended and the movie really kicked in, there was no looking back. The action really started to heat up, and there was no chance for a breather from that point onward. This is one of the charms of Batman Begins - the relentless pace gives no chance for boredom, but it isn't taxing on you either. I really enjoyed the next little bit, in which Bruce goes about putting together his Batman persona, as well as organising his outfit. Batman is a super-hero, sure, but he doesn't actually have super powers - just gadgets which make him seem as though he has powers. This idea was really well executed, and I think the only real slip-up with it was the bit later on in the film where he managed to call up a bunch of real bats to do his bidding. This irked me because it didn't fit in with the concepts that had been so painstakingly put into place earlier in the film.

Once all this is out of the way, though, it's onto the real story - the problems that Gotham City are about to face, and what Batman can do to save the day. And the story is actually quite a corker, and extremely well done. This is probably the point at which I should tip my hat to director Christopher Nolan, who has done an amazing job with the material. He's managed to make the film exciting almost throughout, and has been able to keep the feel of the whole thing really faithful to the comic book hero stories of old, but still with an updated twist, and plenty of spit and polish. The one notable exception (and this is a bit of a spoiler, so if you don't want to know, skip to the next paragraph now) is the way that things end up with Bruce and Rachel (Katie Holmes). The mushiness was really out of place in the film, and it simply didn't work. Whereas the similar sections in Spider-Man clicked and made you punch the air, in Batman Begins, it was obvious that the audience were not buying it one little bit (the tenderness was drowned out by raucous laughter in the audience of which the majority was made up of young males). It didn't fit in with the tone of the rest of the film, and worse, Bale and Holmes just don't have any chemistry (compare this with the sizzling hot chemistry between Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst). A shame.

So, what is the basic story? Well, our hero, who grew up with his butler Alfred (Michael Caine) as his main father figure, has returned to Gotham City to try to combat crime and make the city a better and safer place. His biggest obstacle is Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), a mob boss style guy who runs the city along with everyone else who he has corrupted along the way. But Batman is soon to discover that there are bigger fish to fry, and that one of those fish is about to target the girl in his life, Rachel.

Aside from the slickness of the production, Batman Begins is propelled along by some pretty stellar performances. Bale makes a cool Batman (though his Batman voice irritated me a fair bit), but it is actors like Caine as the wise and wise-cracking old butler, Gary Oldman as the only decent cop that Batman can find to help him, and, to a lesser extent, Morgan Freeman as the keeper of the gadgets, that really stand out. On the other hand, there's Holmes, who is terrible, and should have been re-cast. But back to the good things, the best character as far as I was concerned was played by Cillian Murphy. He plays Dr. Jonathan Crane, the head of a psychiatric hospital where everything is not right. Not only was he perfect in this part (love those piercing blue eyes!), but the storylines that are caused by this character, and the special effects and camera tricks that are used are really awesome.

Yes, Batman Begins is incredibly corny, with each character constantly trying to outdo the others by coming up with more and more zingable one-liners. And the story is fanciful and over-the-top. But that's all part of the fun, and in this case, like with Spider-Man, I think they've got it right.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 16 Jun 2005

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Reader comments

  1. Dear Nicole
    He called in the bats by using a sonar thingy on his shoe. I think it emitted a high frequency sound that they were attracted to.
    Warmest regards

    A comment from nofreelist's own andy-j on Wed 29 Jun 2005 22:08 #

  2. Dear Andrew,
    Even warmer regards

    A comment from nofreelist's own pearly on Thu 30 Jun 2005 05:39 #

  3. Hey! Whats with the raspberry? I didn't write the script! I just UNDERSTOOD it :P

    A comment from nofreelist's own andy-j on Mon 04 Jul 2005 15:25 #

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