Caped Crusader Reviews: Batman Begins (2005)
After the nightmare that was Batman and Robin, the future for the caped crusader in film looked pretty grim. At one point, Warner Bros. even considered having Joel Schumacher make another one called “Batman Triumphant”. Thankfully, Christopher Nolan stepped in and decided that he wanted to make a more serious depiction of the character which focused on his origin. What we got was Batman Begins, and I can safely say that this is not only one of the best comic book films I’ve seen, but it’s a well made film in its own right. Let’s get cracking with the review!
The film covers a vast amount of years in Bruce Wayne’s life, from his early childhood, to an adult, as he travels the world to discover his true destiny and become a crime-fighter. We finally get to see the entire transformation of a billionaire playboy into the mysterious creature of the night and it really makes it easy to relate to him when we’re on the journey with him. What’s most intriguing about the film is that for the first hour or so, the story is told in a non-linear style, however there is a logic to the order in which events occur. The story is overall very coherent and it has some good realistic themes; also it’s worth mentioning that everything in the film, most notably the villain combination of Ra’s Al Ghul and Scarecrow, work within the context of the film and while the idea sounds really strange conceptually, it works really well because it doesn’t follow the formula of the usual supervillain team-up.
Characters are really well developed this time around. Even the side characters get some well-deserved screen time, with Gordon and Alfred being my favourite of the many we get to see, the exact opposite to my reaction when seeing them portrayed in the older films. A new addition to the screen is Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, finally a long-awaited explanation to the age old question; where on earth does Batman get those wonderful toys? He and Bruce have some great dialogue between each other that can be tongue-in-cheek when it needs to be without taking us out of the serious world we’re in. On the subject of Bruce, how does Christian Bale compare to the actors before him? Well, he’s certainly much more relatable to the audience as Bruce Wayne and he plays the billionaire playboy perfectly, although his portrayal of Batman in full costume isn’t as badass as, say, Keaton’s performance. This is in large part to the fact that he growls whenever he dons the cape and cowl, which comes across as quite forced, and unfortunately it gets worse in The Dark Knight. Still, he’s pretty good overall. The only character I had a problem with was one who, to my knowledge, was never in the comics, and that’s Rachel Dawes, played in this movie by Katie Holmes (she was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight). She was pretty useless for most of the film and seemed to just be shoved in to be a love interest, although she and Bruce aren’t trying to have a relationship in the middle of the story.
The film has an excellent score, thanks to the excellent work by Hans Zimmer. While not as hummable as Eflman’s work, it will definitely have you drumming the nearest table or armrest to the beat of this epic soundtrack. Similar to Eflman’s score though, it fits the atmosphere of this interpretation of Gotham City and Batman as a whole. Interesting note: all of the tracks on the soundtrack’s CD are named in a foreign language (I think it might be Latin, but don’t quote me on that), just thought I’d put that out there.
Batman Begins is more than just a good comic book film, it’s a great film in it’s own right, about a man overcoming his fears and learning to inspire good in others. The cast all give solid performances; even Katie Holmes, despite the fact I didn’t like her character much, put in a good effort. Hans Zimmer’s score fits Nolan’s Gotham and makes the immersion into the film that much stronger. It’s rare to find a film that is so wonderfully thought-provoking but also a greatly entertaining action crime drama. I rate this film a 9.5/10