Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Review of Batman Begins (2005)

Written by David S. Goyer And Christopher Nolan
Directed by Christopher Nolan

Bruce (to Ra's al Ghul): "I seek... A means to fight injustice. To turn fear against those who prey on the fearful."

Thanks to Batman & Robin, the franchise for the Caped Crusader hadn't exactly ended on a high and this movie could have either breathed new life into the Dark Knight or finished him off on the big screen for good. Luckily for us, it was the former.

By literally taking things back to basics, co-writer and director, Christopher Nolan along with fellow writer David S. Goyer re-energised the series with the first of a clearly thought out trilogy. Here we do see a Bruce Wayne who lost his parents in a Gotham that's become a cesspit of crime where crime lords like Carmine Falcone reign supreme and the legal system is either embedded with corruption or too ineffectual in order to grind things to a halt.

Before we get onto the Caped Crusader, can I just say that Rachel Dawes is one of the best recently made up love interests for Bruce Wayne/Batman? Not only does Katie Holmes actually do a blindingly good job with her but she also managed to make Rachel's anger and desperation for justice come across rather well without it ever feeling cloying and the rewrite of her and Bruce Wayne being childhood friends actually worked extremely well for the movie's narrative itself. Finally, a love interest for the Bat that can actually rival the likes of Selina Kyle and Talia al Ghul.

Of course, the Caped Crusader himself is also a man looking for justice. Christian Bale was an absolutely inspired choice for the roles of Batman/Bruce Wayne and doesn't really put a foot wrong throughout this whole franchise (though his grunting is initially a little off). Bruce's quest for vengeance and justice certainly seems to be a balancing act and his collisions with villains such as the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and Ra's al Ghul/Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) are certainly memorable.

Out of the two here, both Murphy and Neeson should be commended for their excellent performances but while I enjoyed the Scarecrow and his use of fear toxins on everyone, for me the most exciting villain was Ra's al Ghul. He's always been one of the most memorable enemies for Batman and his overzealous attempts of destroying a decadent Gotham certainly put both him and Batman on opposing paths with only one real outcome. Still, the fight sequence with the two of them on a moving train is nothing short of impressive to watch.

As for the rest of the movie's supporting players, this excellent cast was rounded off with Michael Caine's brilliant take on the protective butler, Alfred while Morgan Freeman certain made the most of his screen time with the trustworthy Lucius Fox but it's Gary Oldman who would impress the most (and continue to do so in the next two movies) as detective/lieutenant James Gordon. It's no wonder now the likes of FOX are doing a prequel series with his character centre stage given the amazing characterisation he's given in this franchise now.

- Had the previous franchise not ended so badly in 1997, Batman Triumphant actually would've had the Scarecrow as a main antagonist.
- The redesign of the Batmobile as a Tumbler took some getting used to but it does actually work.
- That little kid both Batman and Rachel were nice to became Joffrey in Game Of Thrones. Just saying is all.
- The working title for this movie was The Intimidation Game. I'm glad that title didn't stick.

For a start to a whole new take on the Dark Knight, both Nolan and Goyer certainly set up a rather high standard with a slightly gritty, more serious take but thankfully one that would also have it's moments of theatricality as well. Batman Begins was a brilliant way of getting the ball rolling and it's follow up movies more than deliver as well.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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