Saturday, June 18, 2005
Batman Begins is, as its title so straightforwardly promises, a beginning. But my goodness, what a grand beginning it is! Christopher Nolan's film is stylish and atmospheric and intense...showing us young Bruce Wayne's childhood ended so abruptly by fear and by devastating tragedy to his journey to find a way to reimagine himself for a life of vengeance and justice to his first steps (and missteps) as Batman with well thought out detail and nuance. By the end of the movie, the status quo is set and a rather blatant foreshadowing of the villain for the next film is revealed.
Christian Bale is the first screen Batman who is able to fully inhabit both sides of Batman's persona (both Val Kilmer and George Clooney found Bruce Wayne's character in their own ways but didn't quite fully come to grips with Batman; Michael Keaton nailed Batman but played Wayne as a kind of bumbling dolt...kind of the way Christopher Reeve played Clark Kent in the Superman movies.)
The rest of the cast...Liam Neeson, Michael Caine (as the gently-acerbic butler, Alfred), Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman (as Sgt..."someday I'll be Commissioner"...Gordon), Cillian Murphy (as the truly creepy Dr. Jonathan Crane)...is top-notch and each takes a plot-serving turn in the spotlight without detracting from the main players: Bale's Batman and the shadowy expanse of Gotham City (not as gothic as in Tim Burton's version but still daunting, foreboding, and a wonder to behold.)
I make no bones about being a fanboy when it comes to these things...but that enthusiasm isn't always well-met (*cough* Daredevil *cough*) when it comes to comic book heroes making the leap onto the big screen. Batman Begins joins the pantheon of cool comic book movies...along with Superman I & II, Spider-Man, Tim Burton's Batman, and X2...that appeals to both the fickle adult and the wide-eyed child co-existing in my cynical optimist's heart :-)