Batman Begins My Review

Christopher's 2005 reboot of the Batman franchise that tells the origins of how Bruce Wayne became Batman.
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Joined: December 2011
Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Batman Begins 2005

After growing disillusioned with his privileged life style and never really having recovered from being left an orphan at an early age after the brutal murder of his parents, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) the billionaire industrialist leaves Gotham behind in search of answers heading for Tibet where he meets the mysterious Ducard (Liam Neesome) who offers him a chance to join the mysterious League of Shadows ran by the all powerful Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) a secret organisation trained in ninja skills who intend on eradicating organised crime. After being at odds with their intentions and methods Wayne returns to Gotham with the skills learned from his experiences with intention of dealing with crime in his own unique fashion.

Some eight years after Joel Schumacher hammered the final nail into the previous era of the Batman franchise with the truly atrocious Batman & Robin, Warner Brothers recruited critically acclaimed director Christopher Nolan to reboot their property . Before this Warner had wisely rejected the option to let Schumacher make a fifth film and put their product back on the shelf, rumours had circulated that Darren Aronofsky had intentions to make a low budget gritty version of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns but it was 2005 that they decided to put a film into production with Nolan helming with David S. Goyer collaborating with Nolan to make this origin film and re-introduction of the caped crusader.

With 9/11 casting a long shadow over everything the intention was to dispense with the camp excess of the previous attempts by Burton and Schumacher and present Batman in a more real world. Nolan had impressed with his second film the critically lauded Memento, one the most original thrillers of recent times and also with his follow up shown he could cope with big names eliciting two electrifying performances out of Al Pacino and Robin Williams in his more than competent Hollywood remake of the acclaimed Swedish thriller Insomnia but this would be the first time the Brit would be allowed a big budget and the weight of bringing a franchise back to life which was frankly in a laughable state.

Key to his film would be finding the right actor to bring Batman and Bruce Wayne to life, Bale who had impressed in his early years in Spielberg's Empire of The Sun and more recently terrified with his portrayal of Patrick Bateman in the big screen version of Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho. Bale unlike previous actors would give a far more three dimensional approach to the character, essentially playing three roles, the playboy, the real Bruce and of course the Batman. No other actor really nailing this down. People in retrospect have argued for Michael Keaton's take as definitive but I've never heard a good enough argument to convince me of this. Bale presents all angles of Wayne's personality brilliantly, if there was to be any dispute over Wayne it certainly was redundant when Nolan cast the two times Oscar winning legend British actor Michael Caine as Bruce's faithful and fatherly Butler Alfred, the man responsible for bring him up after his parents murder. All other takes on the character seem jokey and unreal whereas Caine with a warmth world weariness and experience that completely sells his casting in the role, those world famous eyes saying more than many actors can say with their mouths, simply Nolan couldn't have chosen better. If this wasn't enough, for the role of Jim Gordon, here only a Sergeant in the Gotham Police force and shown in flash back in uniform, another Brit would be employed, Gary Oldman who had made a return to commercial arena playing Lucius Black in the Harry Potter films like Caine feels like no one else was better, Oldman has always been renowned for sounding like an American despite not being a native and his Gordon adds another impressive reading to his C.V.

Nolan rather than going for the cannon villains of the series opting for not so well known Ra's Al Ghul and Scarecrow as well Carmen Falcone making sure the focus is on Batman and not some colourful scene stealer's, he gets a roster of capable actors Liam Neesome , Cillian Murphy and Tom Wilkinson to bring Batman's adversaries to life.

At the time the idea of the reboot was something that had rarely been attempted despite now becoming Hollywood's most popular option to ring the cash tills. Batman Begins is actually an incredibly important film, for all the talk of the Bourne franchise being the main reason the Bond series was rebooted it is this film that actually gave EON the idea they could reset their property and bring it into the 21st century. Nolan a professed Bond fan takes a few pages from that series with Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) here obviously Wayne's quartermaster equipping his boss with an arsenal of technology to allow him to make the crime fighter more unique and formidable. Nolan would also recruit Bond veteran Chris Corbould SFX guru amongst other things to realise Batman's most famous vehicle the Batmobile. After previous incarnation just looking frankly ridiculous, Corbould with the tumbler would present a practical and impressive form of transportation that would aid the detective rather than just look good, the tumbler being half car half tank, a expensive project developed for military use that was deemed too expensive gathering dust in the warehouse of Wayne Enterprises until it catches the companies owners eye.

A more comic book like approach than it's sequel, Nolan clearly needing to introduce his take as realistically as possible, although the League of Shadows element does jar somewhat with a more real world feel, the film feels more comfortable once Wayne returns to Gotham to put his plan into place to strike fear into the hearts of Gotham's underworld, this moment of the film feels where Nolan is more at ease, the second half with plot to flood the cities water supply with poison and the climax feel far more of the comics and give way to some cheesy dialogue, Oldman's Gordon gets given some ripe lines to say and at times feels like some jokey side kick, an element that Nolan thankfully jettisons in the sequel. Although back in 2005 for my money this is the best comic book film to date, I guess the first Superman or Bryan Singer's second X-Men entry might give it some competition but Nolan took the genre somewhere it had never really been before adding a depth and darkness, some striking visual sequences, using Falcone's body draped over a spot light in the shape of the bat insignia is particularly memorable and Crane accidentally gassing himself with his own weapon and witnessing a demon like Batman must rate as one of the most darkest moments the genre had attempted at the time. Nolan who at the time said he had no plans for a sequel still teased us with a tantalising send off as Gordon hands Batman a playing card which the detective says he'll look into, it would be another 3 years before Nolan would return to the story but boy would it be worth the wait!

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Joined: August 2010
good review :twothumbsup:

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