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Batman Begins

By sizemore Last edited 139 months ago
Batman Begins
batman_begins.jpg

One line review: The Dark Knight gets his balls back.

Slightly longer (spoiler free) review:

We came out of the cinema last night grinning. Sure, we overheard a few people muttering "too long" and "bit slow" but they were obviously stupid and would soon walk under a bus or tube raising the city's IQ slightly. Batman Begins is great. And we had a PILE of reservations, but thankfully we worried over nothing. So let's fill you in on where we stand on the history of this particular crime fighter. Context is everything.

Tim Burton's Batman was crap. Yeah we know it's bordering on sacrilege to say so but let's be honest... Tim Burton is a very hit and miss director at the best of times and Batman was just DULL. It was a pretty good Joker movie, but casting a block of wood as the Bat was a big mistake. Things improved slightly with Batman Returns because things got darker, but again the hero was sidelined and it was more of a Catwoman movie. After that the franchise became a leather nipple and crotch fetish disguised as very long tedious toy advertising. So the TV spin off aside (KAPOW!) we've been waiting a very long time for someone to get Batman right. Now at long last thankfully Christopher Nolan has hit this weird little nail right on the head.

Stay with us after the jump for what he got right:

The casting. Christian Bale is perfect not least because he still carries that slice of Patrick Bateman with him from American Psycho and unlike just about every other guy who has donned the suit he's actually an actor first and a star second. Michael Caine as Alfred is inspired - he's the perfect foil to Bale's driven hero and it's his best role since The Quiet American. Rutger Haur has a slightly longer role here than he did in Sin City, but makes the most of his time reminding us what a wonderful and charismatic actor he still is. We're tempted to start talking about a Hauer comeback, but we know that he's probably even now filming some terrible action flick in the Baltic wearing an eye patch and a very large hat. Even Katie Holmes is spot on - doey eyed but tough and on hand to need a damn good rescuing from time to time. Gary Oldman as Gordon was perhaps our biggest worry as he's either very good or hammy as hell, but he finally brings this often sidelined character to life. Liam Neeson continues to remind us what a good solid actor he is and between this and Kingdom of Heaven we've just about forgot that Jedi crap he got mixed up with. Cillian Murphy from 28 Days Later is here as Dr Jonathan Crane and has a slimy plasticy look that is very unsettling even before... well as we said. No spoilers.

The pacing. Batman doesn't even arrive until 40 minutes or so into the movie. Instead we get some badly needed character development for the somewhat tarnished icon. Although things get perhaps a little more frantic and formulaic towards the end this is a movie confident enough to take it's time and it's a much more rewarding experience for it.

The plot. Nolan takes the best pieces of the character's mythology and some of the better ideas from the last ten years or so of the comic (with large nods to Frank Miller's 'Year One') and tosses into the mix some of the less iconic Batman family which will keep the fanboys happy, but are less likely to overshadow the Bat himself. So we get to meet the Scarecrow, the head of the Falcone crime syndicate, Ra's Al Ghul...

The gadgets. Batman has more in common with James Bond than he does his fellow superheroes. He's just a regular Joe (albeit one with a hideously large bank account) with a need to crack skulls so his gadgetry is important. In this film just about all the crap hanging from his utility belt has a more or less solid explanation and he even has his own Q this time out in the form of Morgan Freeman. This film is packed with surrogate father figures... I guess Bruce wasn't a big mummy's boy. Oh and the Bat Mobile? It's a tank that drives OVER rooftops. Nuff said.

The score and soundtrack. No Prince and No Artist Formally Known as Prince - in fact no diminutive little tossers at all. One less record to throw at the undead then but also no nu-metal (thankyou!). No discernible theme either, but that's a good thing here. No musical queues whatsoever so for the most part we're as in the dark as the thugs are as to where the Bat will spring from next. We've never seen a 'hero' quite so frightening.

And that's the best thing here. The theme of the movie is fear with a capital F and from the Scarecrow's gas to the bats that scare the hell out of and later define Bruce Wayne this is not a little kid's movie. If it is a kid's movie at all then it's designed to scare the crap out of them rather than sell them toys (are you listening Russell T Davies, you miserable hack?) and the face of Batman as perceived as a hell-spawned demon is not only something the franchise needed it's also a hell of an image to take away with you.

So blowjobs all round for everyone involved. Must be a big relief for DC to finally get something right on the big screen and maybe now they can take that pesky Spiderman on...

Last Updated 17 June 2005

dave golbitz

I am in total agreement with you. Without a doubt, the best Batman film.

One question, though. You mention the TV show from the '60s, but make no mention of the incredible animated series that Paul Dini and Bruce Timm created in '92. Prior to this new film, that cartoon was, I think, the best depiction of Batman and his cast of characters. Just wondering if you'd ever seen it, and what your thoughts about it were.

Mike

To be honest I'm a little hazy on the animated versions - I've dipped into a few of them over the years, but not enough to really comment or compare.

Now somewhere around here I have actual reels of the original Batman show from 1943. I have no idea if it ever surfaced on DVD but it's worth tracking down just to see the Dynamic Duo kick the crap out of zombies...

DonkeyHoTea

i wholeheartedly agree.

best batman movie EVAR.

i would go further and say that jack nicholson in the first one was absolute CACK.

he was grandstanding, he was over the top, he was full of pointless flourish, and yet still didnt remind me at all of the joker i have come to know and love.

total cack.

ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?

whu?

go fuck yourself, napier!

you didnt even really kill my parents, you revisionist excuse for a psychopathic plot device!

stercus ex machina, i calll it.

tim burton's only good film is nightmare before christmas, and you have to be a pretty damn charitable goth to like that.

no, edward scissorhands isnt.

just because jonny is such a pretty little deposit for every goth-bird's wank-bank does not make it a good movie.

social comment?

what?

being judgemental is mean?

oh well done.







on the animated version...

you should check it out.

the simplist styling that often veers into art deco is cool.

the scripts are pretty tight.

mark hamill even does well as the joker.

not well enough to cast in a live movie, but as a voice actor? wicked.

stevie F

Best Batman film ever.

Can't wait for the sequel.

What do you think of the rumour about Crispin Glover possibly being cast as the Joker?

I cannot think of another actor who could play the Joker as well as Glover probably could.

Fingers crossed it happens!

Mike

Glover would nail it. The trick is not letting him overshadow the Bat, but the chance to see Bale and Glover bang heads is very sweet.

If they get around to adding Harley Quinn to the mix my girlfriend will cream her jeans.

Mike

Jeans. Creamed. The way to a woman's heart is through quickly written fiction.

Pendostanets

Pendostanets!