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5 points on Batman Begins (movie review)

After the disaster that is known as Batman and Robin, it seemed like it was time to let the Batman movie franchise die… at least for a while. Then suddenly, Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan brought us Batman Begins, and nothing would ever be the same.

When I first heard about Batman Begins, Warner Brothers was releasing production stills: a picture of the Batmobile, crew working on a set, Christopher Nolan explaining a camera move to Christian Bale… stuff like that. All I knew was the Batmobile was weird looking, but I loved the director and the cast, and that was enough to get me excited about this movie.

At this point, I had not put it together that Christian Bale was the dude from Newsies, but I did remember him from the obscure action flick Equilibrium, which was not a great movie, but Christian Bale was great in it. There are lots of great scenes, but my favorite is when he looks out the window and sees the sunrise (or is it a sunset? I forget) – Bale’s reaction is perfect. I remember saying, "Oh, the Equilibrium guy? I like that guy. That should work." I don’t especially love that movie, but I love watching Christian Bale in that movie. I know, it’s strange… anyway, I highly recommend it. (Since then, I’ve seen Christian Bale chainsaw somebody in nothing but a pair of sneakers… check that one out, too!) The point of all this rambling is that I was excited to see Christian Bale portray Batman/Bruce Wayne.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t excited about the rest of the cast: Michael Caine is a long time favorite of mine (just an example: I love him as the villain in On Deadly Ground), Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Tom Wilkinson, Morgan Freeman… here’s my reaction to reading the Batman and Robin IMDB page for the first time.

And by this, I mean I was pumped about this cast.

Directing by Christopher Nolan was as equally mind blowing as the entire cast. The idea that the director of Memento was going to make a Batman movie that featured the Scarecrow character filled me with an inappropriate amount of joy.

Needless to say, my expectations might have been a little too high.

When I finally saw the movie, I was pleased, especially with the first act. I loved the complex storytelling and the nonlinear fashion in which the early parts of Batman’s origin were told without the skipping around feeling inorganic. Generally, I like the way the cast portrays their roles – I’d never seen Cillian Murphy before, but I loved his performance. I’d never seen Tom Wilkinson play a part like this and he was amazing just like always, so that was fun, too. I particularly liked the movie’s take on how one actually executes the business of being Batman regarding fighting, the costume, the tech, the security concerns… I love those aspects of the movie.

That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have problems. It’s a fun movie to watch and I like it a lot (rewatch value is high for me), but I am prepared to talk about it’s short comings and things that just don’t work for me. Here we go:

That scene when they’re riding on the train to the opera:
Young Bruce Wayne doesn’t know where his father works? H doesn’t seem to know the train exists or anything about Gotham… where does he go to school? And they never take him to the city? Also, why are they riding the train? Where’s Alfred in the limo? Couldn’t they just see the train out the limo window? I’m sure the train doesn’t serve the Gotham Palisades, so where’d the board it? Did Alfred drive them to the train station, which must be inside the city limits? It’s just bizarre.

And speaking of the train…
The train felt like it was pushed into the movie. It felt like they were writing the script, got to the end of the movie and had Batman fight Ra’s al Ghul and Warner Brothers went, "Where’s the big explosion? We need a big explosion at the end of this movie." So someone came up with this train nonsense and stuck it into the film. That might not be true, but that’s how it feels.

The toxin has to be inhaled through the lungs?

I don’t understand why the effects can only be felt if the toxin is inhaled. Is that a thing? It doesn’t sound like a thing. I speculate that once they added the train to the movie, they tied the train to the toxin and were so happy with Fox getting fired and the "Didn’t you get the memo?" line that everyone forgot about how silly and convoluted it was in the first place. It doesn’t ruin the movie while you’re watching it, but it just bugs me if I think about it too much.

Katie Holmes

I gotta tell ya, I don’t care for Katie Holmes’ performance in this movie. For me, she doesn’t work – I don’t believe a thing she says. It’s just a case of miscasting in my opinion. "What chance does Gotham have when the good people do nothing?" This is not easy dialogue to deliver, and Holmes just doesn’t know how to do it. She’s not ruining the movie, but she’s not doing herself any favors.

Some of the comedy doesn’t work
Comedy (or any levity) is fine – the aforementioned "Didn’t you get the memo?" works well (So does, "They don’t like falafel?"), but it’s not all gold. Basically, any attempt at humor surrounding the batmobile doesn’t work for me.
"I gotta get me one of those."
"Nice ride."
"At least tell me what it looks like."
These lines do not work for me. They feel like hamfisted attempts at humor and I’m not buying – they also conflict with the serious tone the movie had been establishing beforehand.

I know I’ve been complaining a lot, but I do very much enjoy Batman Begins. It’s a solid film: great directing, great photography, great soundtrack, great performances… All that ads up to a great movie. Sure, there are some story and dialogue flubs, but that’s life. I’m giving Batman Begins an 8 out of 10. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun and has a high rewatch value.

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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com, BomberBanter.com and editor in chief of ComicBookClog.com

Posted on June 6, 2014, in lists, movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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