Chris Bond

Batman Begins

2nd July 2005
Movie Poster reviewer: Chris Bond
directed by: Christopher Nolan
written by: David S. Goyer
starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman
genre: Action, Adventure, Crime, Fantasy, Thriller
released: 16th June 2005

It is hard to believe that Batman has been around since 1938. In that time we have been treated to the overly camp but enjoyable 60’s television series, and a handful of movies. However, in 1997 Joel Schumacher seemingly killed off the movie franchise with the dreadful Batman & Robin. A lot has changed between then and now; successful incarnations of Spiderman and X-Men (and to a lesser extent The Incredible Hulk), and the Pixar hit The Incredibles, have lead to the re-birth to not only comic book franchises, but also of the superhero.

In Batman Begins we are finally treated to the creation and the beginnings of the character as we follow Bruce Wayne from his parent’s death, through his training, and eventually fighting crime as Batman. Nolan resists the temptation to stick Wayne in the Batsuit until a good hour into the movie, instead opting to show us the torment and anguish which leads to Wayne’s imprisonment in China. In a superhero-based movie this is a bold move; Spiderman 2 suffered in the middle when Parker was no longer Spiderman. However, Batman is a more interesting character, and Nolan has a proven pedigree (Memento and Insomnia) dealing with psychological stress. This makes the first hour utterly engrossing, and the short periods of action tease us into what is yet to come. It is because of this first hour that our first viewing of this re-imagined Batman is a stupidly joyous and exciting occasion (forget any arguments, Christian Bale is the prefect Batman). In some ways what follows is all fairly predictable: Wayne has to juggle his dual personalities as Batman and a playboy billionaire, whilst fighting crime to save Gotham City from destruction. However, it is never dull or less than great.

This is due to Nolan’s vision and direction, and a number of fine performances from Christian Bale (Batman), Micheal Caine (Alfred), Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Cilian Murphy, and Gary Oldman. Nolan’s Gotham is a dark and gritty world, and feels like an extreme version of a real city (far removed from Burton’s more stylized verson). The contrast between the more ‘real-life’ vision of Nolan and the stylized vision of Burton is reflected elsewhere. The Batmobile here is more like a small tank than the highly slick car conjured up in the original film. Further, the action scenes (of which there are plenty) take an ‘up close and personal’ approach, with the camera in tight and sometimes disorientating.

I opened up by saying it is hard to believe Batman has been around since 1938. It is somewhat harder to believe that it has taken until now to make a movie that deals with Batman. Batman Begins is a triumph not only for die hard fans but also for the general public in allowing access to one of the more interesting superheros. With a sequel tantalizingly set up, lets hope Batman doesn’t end as poorly as in 1997.