Growing up, there were three “comic” series that I enjoyed most… Batman, Spider Man, and X-men. The first on the movie scene was Batman, under the careful eyes of Tim Burton. He gave it the appropriate “dark” treatment Batman needed. However, it still had a “comic” feel to it. Burton followed it up with Batman Returns, which again I thought stayed true to the comic while maintaining a serious treatment. Things then started spiraling down hill. Batman Forever might have been good, but Val Kilmer is not Batman (don’t get me started on who followed… too late). Batman & Robin just blows chunks on so many levels, I will not bore you here (I will not consider Catwoman part of the series… that was just a pathetic attempt to sell eye-candy… though if you were going to sell it, they did choose quality eye-candy in Halle Berry). When you took Burton off of the project, things didn’t have the feel it should… They weren’t tales of the Dark Knight - they were tales of the circus (literally in some cases).
When I heard Christopher Nolan was picked for Batman Begins I was incredibly happy, but I didn’t quite know what to expect. I thought Memento and Insomia where fantastic films. He proved he could create and direct quality characters and performances. This would be his first foray into the “action” genre. Despite this, I was excited to see a serious treatment of Batman again.
This movie does not disappoint. It is the background that you want to know, told in a captivating way. Constructively creating a character from childhood, and we finally discover Bruce Wayne’s motivations and it turns out they are believable. Batman was always special because it really didn’t involve arch-type superpowers/mutants like most other comics delved. This was a real man with means doing things that border on “yeah, that could happen.”
Christian Bale is a great “younger” Bruce Wayne. His times in the mask he tries for a bit over the top, but in a way that makes sense. Michael Caine is an all time favorite and is really perfect as a younger Alfred. I thought Michael Gough had passed away a while ago, but IMDB tells me wrong. Liam Neeson is another favorite - a very gifted actor who always seems to get a little short changed in recent movies (Star Wars). He delivers a great performance here. Katie Holmes doesn’t seem to be able to deliver a quality line in the entire movie. I’m not sure if it is the lines she is given, or her acting, but there are few times when you cringe and hope she doesn’t ruin it. Thankfully, her lines are few and far between, and she at least is a believable “first love” of Bruce.
This movie is not completely without faults. The fight scenes are shot too tightly. That may have been intentional, but I was hoping for something a little more clean and in a wider frame; I like to see what the fighters are doing, rather than a blurred arm blocking a sword… But these are nit picks.
Enjoy this movie in the theaters. Catch it next weekend while everyone else is going to see War of the Worlds (which I’m also looking forward to, but still wondering what to expect from it).