Saturday, June 18, 2005

Batman Begins

(As usual, I should take a notebook with me into the theater, but I don't' get paid to look like a dork.)


First of all, I must emphasize that I am eminently qualified to give my measured and experienced review of Batman Begins. When I was 17, I was thrilled by the original Tim Burton movie. I was a junior in high school that summer (was it released in the summer?). I owned a pair of Converse-brand specially made Batman canvas high top sneakers that I wore to the opening night premiere in my home town. They were black with the gold Bat Signal all over them. I enjoyed Batman Returns,tolerated Batman and Robin, and charitable loathed Batman Forever. To go even further, I own several Batman graphic novels, ranging from "Batman: Year One" which the screen play to this movie owes several obvious debts, to "The Killing Joke," "The Dark Knight Returns," and "D2K."

Was I pleased with Batman Begins? You bet I was. It was equal to the excellent movie first made by Tim Burton, if intentionally made very differently. Christopher Nolan goes about his filmmaking VERY differently than Burton, and their vision of the Bruce Wayne/Batman dynamic are very different, so the two films are very different. But Nolan did a great job of showing us a very human and very real Batman. Which is appropriate since this movie is of beginnings and learning how to be the best Batman you can be. So reality is what is needed. Of course, some criticize that we don't want our superheroes to be real--that's not the point and its kind of lame to do so. But that doesn't bother me.

Of course, there were things that did bother me:

  1. Katie Holmes was not necessarily something that bothered me. She as least was mercifully scream free, so I was spared the flashbacks to Kim Basinger. But, she was no Kirsten Dunst!
  2. Every time they did the cloud of bats thing, the theater speakers melted my ears--TOO LOUD!
  3. I wondered how Alfred and Bruce could begin constructing the Batcave without attracting undue attention from outsiders. Luckily they put in a scene where they set up a system to shunt their orders for batmasks, cape materials, and other paraphenalia through a dummy Wayne Enterprises account. Otherwise they would have to kill every Fed Ex truck driver and furniture contractor that brought stuff to Wayne Manor.
  4. There weren't any bat poles, just dissonant piano chords.
  5. They kept mispronouncing Ra's Al Ghul. They said Ra's like "raise" when it should be more like "rasche."
  6. The ending/foiling of the villain's plan just sort of . . . stopped. I didn't feel it was resolved.
  7. There are other things that I thought of, but I didn't write them down.

Other observations:

  • You wouldn't know that Christopher Nolan had directed Memento, except that the title and the credits came at the very end of the film.
  • The movie had a great cast of good people. Christian Bale did a good job, though at the beginning when he was jailed in the oriental prison camp, I flashed back to Empire of the Sun. Gary Oldman was very understated as a very ordinary James Gordon. Not the typical Oldman, but good anyway.
  • There were interesting oppositions between this movie and last year's Spiderman 2. In S2, Peter saves the people on the subway train and gets knocked out. The grateful New Yorkers lift him above their heads and gently put him on the ground. But,while Batman is trying to save the day down in the Narrows, he is overcome by fear-crazed Gothamites.
  • At the end of S1, Peter tells Mary Jane that he can't love her (in order to protect her from enemies). At the end of BB, Rachel (Katie Holmes) tells Bruce that she isn't interested in loving a vigilante and will wait until Gotham no longer needs Batman. A nice bit of role reversals.

I feel that I am forgetting things that should be said. But, I'll end by saying that it was a very good movie, well done by everyone involved. Was it better than the Spiderman movies . . . as Flipper asserted? I don't think so. Was it good? Absolutely.


In other movie news . . . the most surprising and unexpected event of the night at the movies was the trailer for Serenity. I never saw that coming I can tell you. I was a big fan of the show before Fox cancelled it after twelve episodes. There was always rumor of Joss Whedon making a movie, but I didn't keep track of it all. So, I was really surprised when the trailer started spooling out in front of me. Consider yourself warned . . . buy the DVD, and get ready to see the movie!

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