Batman Begins

Fox: "So what do you think?"
Bruce: "Does it come in black?"

I have always had a difficult relationship with Batman on film.

The old series in the sixties was ridiculous, campy fun, and had little to do with the spirit of the original Batman. Dan loved the cartoon series, but most animation leaves me cold. Jack Nicholson was brilliant as the Joker, but I'm one of those people who thought Michael Keaton was woefully miscast. I liked both Val Kilmer and George Clooney in the cape, but they didn't get scripts that were worthy of them; the later films moved away from the tragic hero that was the core of Batman, and concentrated on art deco and neon and way too many bad guys in cartoon costumes.

But Batman Begins -- now, this is Batman as it should be. I'm not completely certain that Christian Bale is the ultimate Caped Crusader, but he is a terrific actor. And he certainly got the most to work with: the best dramatic story, and the most complex characterization of Batman/Bruce Wayne. And they gave him a supporting cast to die for. Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Rutger Hauer. One of my absolute favorite actors in the world, Morgan Freeman. Katie Holmes before she became a national joke, poor thing. And the brilliant Michael Caine, who gave amazing depth to the role of Alfred.

Christian Bale is impressive as both the haunted Bruce Wayne and the nearly psychotic Batman. Bruce's psychological problems, the darkness in his soul, are what Batman was always all about. As Bruce himself says, "A guy who dresses up like a bat clearly has issues." Batman's emotions pop out from under the mask. He whispers and rants; he sounds almost demented.

They tried hard for a reality-based interpretation. The costume, the bat mobile, the utility belt, all have real world explanations. Bruce keeps searching for meaning, keeps getting seriously hurt, keeps making mistakes. The way they interpreted Scarecrow is particularly interesting and actually frightening. It's hard to make this type of material so intense, but they did it.

So where's the sequel, already?

Three and a half stars,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.

6 comments:

Scuttlecliff said...

Finally got to see Superman Returns, loved it (Routh was fantastic) and think it makes a perfect companion piece to Batman Begins. Just hope they don't go with Heath Ledger for the Joker in the sequel.

Anonymous said...

Afraid it looks official, Heath Ledger is going to be the Joker... it may not be as bad as it sounds casting is always subjective and is never really perfect. If they go with an over the top Joker he will be a joke (pun intended) but given the tone of the first one it is possible they will do a new interpretation of the role that could be interesting.

Scuttlecliff said...

It's offical Heath Ledger will play the Joker in the sequel to Batman Begins, titled The Dark Knight which will again directed by Chris Nolan for a 2008 release date. While I would have prefered Paul Beatty I will hold out until the film is finished before passing judgement on Ledger unlike the sad morons who CRAIGNOTBOND.COM.

dezphaire said...

i can't believe they still casted the "national joke" Katie Holmes for the sequel.

good god please someone kill her.

RIP said...

Heath Ledger's dead =(

TalerFoxx said...

Wow, aren't these now incredibly ironic.