Batman Begins

People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I'm flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed, but as a symbol, I can be incorruptible, everlasting.

A dramatic example of excellent filmmaking is exactly what Christopher Nolan delivers to his audience in Batman Begins, a spectacular fresh look at a character who first graced the pages of comic books in 1939. Batman Begins depicts the transformation of Bruce Wayne, who as a child watched in horror as his parents were murdered, into Batman - the Dark Knight of Gotham City.

Director Christopher Nolan (Memento) takes the Batman franchise that was ultimately destroyed by 1997's Batman and Robin to a gritty, grimy world of deep human emotion. Christian Bale (American Psycho, Empire of The Sun) portrays billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne convincingly, giving Batman's alter ego depth that the previous films ignored. Wayne finds himself tormented by a childhood incident that left him at the bottom of a well, swarmed by bats. This fear transcends him, as he blames it as the root for his parents' murder.

Overwhelmed with guilt, a disenchanted Wayne leaves Gotham and his identity behind. He delves into the seedy criminal underworld to gain a deeper understanding of the criminal psyche. While rotting in a prison cell, Wayne meets Henri Ducard, played by Liam Neeson (Kingdom of Heaven, Love Actually); offers to train Gotham's forgotten son in the ninja arts. Ducard introduces Wayne to Ra's Al Ghul, played by Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), the mystical leader of an organization known as The League of Shadows.

The League of Shadows is training Wayne to be the leader of a force that will eventually be sent to Gotham City. The Shadows' main purpose has been to aid the world by destroying great civilizations when they reached their breaking point. Ghul explains to Wayne that Gotham's time has come--that crime has engulfed the city entirely, and that the only way to save it is to destroy it. Not ready to give in to the League's murderous agenda, Wayne betrays Ghul and Ducard and heads back to Gotham in an attempt to renew the good that Gotham once represented.

Wayne searches for a symbol: something incorruptible that will strike fear into the hearts of those who oppose what he stands for. He fixates on his own fear--bats. With the aid of Wayne Enterprises employee Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby), Bruce gathers an assortment of military gadgets and weapons and develops his alter ego completely. As Batman, Wayne will fight to protect the ones he loves, including childhood sweetheart Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), who has since become an Assistant District Attorney of Gotham. Several stand in the way of justice. Crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) and Dr. Jonathon Crane (Cillian Murphy) have the entire city wrapped up in a terrible drug ring that is only the beginning of a terrible plot set forth by an old acquaintance of Bruce Wayne.

The film is simply astounding and goes far beyond the reach of a mere "comic book movie." Nolan gives the Batman franchise a rejuvenated second chance to become the powerhouse it once was. The Deluxe 2-Disc edition of Batman Begins packs the best special features I've seen in a long time and it's also presented in a unique fashion.

Delve into the pages of an exclusive comic book to explore all the features that the second disc contains. As you flip from page to page with your remote, studying each brightly colored panel of illustration, you will find several featurettes worth looking at:

Batman - The Journey Begins: documenting concept, design, casting and developing of the film.

Shaping Mind and Body: a featurette detailing Christian Bale's transformation into Batman.

Batman - The Tumbler: The reinvention of the Batmobile.

Gotham City Rises: Observe the creation of Gotham City, the Batcave, Wayne Manor and other sets from the film.

Saving Gotham City: a featurette focusing on the development of miniatures, CGI and other effects for the Monorail Chase sequence.

Genesis of the Bat: A look at the comic incarnations that influenced Batman Begins.

There are also several "confidential files" that give you complete character biographies of everyone from the film. Overall, the DVD is flawless. Even if you're not a fan of the source material or you've never even seen a Batman film, you should, without question, seek out this disc and make it a part of your collection.
Reviewed by: adam
9 Comment(s)
Nick said...
The only thing about Batman Begins that I don't care for is its ability to hold up on repeat viewings. It's still an amazing film, and I own the special 2-disc DVD... but it's LONG. Like... almost too long. Every time I try to watch it, I end up falling asleep (though it doesn't help that I often attempt to watch it late at night).

There's 2.5-3 hour movies that can go by like a breeze (almost any Harry Potter movie), and then there's those that you really feel that 2.5-3 hours. After the first few viewings, I would say BB is in the latter category.

Otherwise, the movie is brilliant. I'm psyched for The Dark Knight. I've already got my midnight show ticket.
Adam said...
I've probably watched it around 10 times and it really only seems to get better to me - haha. And Yeah, I'm going to a press screening Wednesday night and then to IMAX on Sunday... (Drool)
Paul said...
Yeah I agree with Adam on this one. But I see what you're saying Nick. However, when I watch it just in pieces, e.g. just watch the first half with his training and emergence as Batman, sometimes that's enough, hah!
Shea said...
Although this is in my top 50 all time favorite movies there are two things that drive me crazy about this film. They only drive me crazy because I love this film so much. It's almost like a parent who loves their children but still has to punish them.

1) I hate Ken Watanabees(sp) death. Lame. He falls back and some flaming 2x4s fall from the ceiling, blood out of the mouth. eh...

2) How goofy the cops get during the batmobile chase. How much comic relief can we squeeze in about the batmobile?

I have some other smaller issues with story but after talking to Paul and rewatching the movie over and over the less these things bother me and the more I embrace them.

I remember when I first saw this movie in the theater, my jaw was dropped. I remember thinking that the first half of this movie was PEFRECT. I still believe that today.

IMAX... midnight... DARK KNIGHT!!!!
Shea said...
Oh... and I agree with Nik about the rewatch value to some degree. It is a beast of a movie. I have seen the movie three times all the way though and all the good parts in peices about 50 times. Ha...
I guess I dont agree... i just understand.

Nick said...
lol... well, I did say 'after the first few times'... and I meant in watching it in full. If you watch it in pieces, like the majority of you are describing, then of course it's different. I'd feel the same way as y'all if I just watched the cool parts in pieces :P .
Paul said...
Yeah, guess I have to change your mind for you again shea :-/

I thought Ken Watanabe's death was fine. Don't forget you've seen it so many times since then and would like more of him. Keep in mind the first time you watched it and didn't realize yet he was just a pawn, it worked perfectly with the film, because ultimately he wasn't the villain.

Cops in the chase didn't bother me...driving on the rooftops as well as the "insert batman into steering column here" bit...seemed a little, unnecessary?
Shea said...
Yeah... maybe your right about Ken if yo uare refering to Bruce finding out later in the movie that he is alive and maybe you are like... OH! I thought Ken could suvive some tumbling 2x4s. But as if i was hit with a Jedi mind trick... maybe yo uare right.

I dont mind the roof jumps... i just hate the cops.
* (asterisk) said...
I've seen it only once and have no intention of rewatching. But lengths such as these do hinder repeat view potential. Pulp Fiction, T2, et al are the same. Great movies (well, maybe BB ain't great, but you know), but who has the time? That's why Reservoir Dogs will always be my preference over PF, and T1 over T2. Tight and punchy like a snare drum, that's the way to make a movie stand over time.

All of the above may of course be completely undermined by some other films, such as Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, TAJJBCRF, Inland Empire, and a whole host of other great long movies. So pay me no heed.

:smiley face: