Jack Nicholson dueled in Tim Burton's "Batman." The
film was evolutionary in that it focused on a Dark
Knight as a psychologically vulnerable warrior.
Despite the promise of a glorious new cinema
franchise, the three films that followed were
disappointing because they relied on a kinetic style
over character substance. "Batman Begins" is easily
the best "Batman" movie ever.
"Batman Begins" focuses on the character motivation
and behavior of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) , a
billionaire who puts on a bat suit and fights crime on
the street. The disheveled Wayne fights ruffians in a
Bhutan gulag. His release is arranged by Henri
Ducard (Liam Neeson), an officer for Ra AlGhuls (Ken
Watanabe). Ra Al Ghuls heads the League of Shadows, a cell of
vigilantes who seek their version of justice.
After his seven year Odyssey in the Himalayas, Wayne
returns to his mansion in the Gotham suburbs. With
the help of his faithful butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael
Caine) and technical assistance of Lucius Fox (Morgan
Freeman), Bruce Wayne formulates the creation of the mythical
Batman, a theatrical techno avenger for justice.
Given his personal fortune, Bruce Wayne is able to
invest money into forensic medicine and military technology.
His batsuit is bullet proof and the bat mobile could be
utilized in Afghanistan and Iraq. As Bruce Wayne, the
Batman is able to develop a network of informants and
honest civil servants. The Batman develops a
kinship with a good cop by the name of James Gordon
(Gary Oldman) and a district attorney Racehl Dawes (Katie
Holmes), who was Bruce Wayne's childhood sweetheart.
Being the most mature Batman movie ever, this new film
is not a simplistic battle of good and evil. Co scriptwriter
and director Christopher Nolan subtly shows how well meaning
motivations can be corrupted by a friendly, but evil benefactor.
Having witnessed his parents being murdered in his childhood (While
watching the German opera "Die Fledermaus/English translation- "The
Bat"), Bruce Wayne is a traumatized individual who seeks meaning for
his life. Nolan needs to be commended for making the
transformation from tragedy to triumph a realistic
"Batman Begins" is an ensemble actors piece.
Christian Bale is a likable leading man who avoids
the self pity trap of modern movie heroes. Liam
Nesson and Morgan Freeman add strong support as
patriarchal figures who advises the hero. After his
series of rogue villainy, it is refreshing to see Gary
Oldman as the valiant Jim Gordon, the future police commissioner.
Katie Holmes is cute and British actor Tom Wilkenson sinks his teeth
in the role of Carmine Falcone, an old fashioned crime
lord. Michael Caine brings forth a tougher version of
Alfred. Caine creates a full role as servant, mentor, friend and
With less reliance of computer enhancement, the
outrageous action sequences appeared grounded in
reality. Unlike the computer graphic showdowns in
"Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith," the
best fighting moments of "Batman Begins" relies on
pure martial arts. The chase sequence involving the
modern RV Batmobile is far more exciting than the
sportcars used with either Val Kilmer or George Clooney
behind the wheel.
"Batman Begins" is not a perfect movie. The grand
finale does suffer from a sense of overkill and it is
not as inspired as the previous action sequences. Yet
"Batman Begins" holds together as a fun summer movie and both sides
of the political aisle with have something to debate
about the merits of crime fighting. Welcome back
Batman, you have finally found a motion picture worthy
of your cowl.