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.