Fear is your weapon.
The first chapter of Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise might rest in the mighty shadows of its earth-shattering sequels, but the view of Batman Begins as the weakest of the trilogy is somewhat unfair. Because Batman Begins is simply magnificent.
Nolan rebooted Batman perfectly for the twenty-first century, transforming the city of Gotham into a nightmarish, noir-tinged world of post-9/11 paranoia, and delivering a bold, brutal origin story for the Caped Crusader. It may take an hour before Batman (Christian Bale) himself is introduced, but Bruce Wayne’s evolution from tragedy-stricken orphan to masked vigilante is done such justice that you’ll be gripped from start to finish.After the murder of his billionaire parents, Wayne becomes a recluse. It is only after he is mentored by the secretive Henri Ducard (the brilliantly brooding Liam Neeson) and the League of Shadows that he returns to Gotham in order to purge the city of the criminals terrorising the streets, beginning with the Scarecrow (a chilling C). However, it soon transpires that the Scarecrow is merely a pawn in the plan of a much deadlier villain…
Seamlessly blending action thrills with emotional intensity, and featuring a dream cast completed by Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes and Morgan Freeman, Batman Begins is no lightweight, campy fare. It’s a rollercoaster which will leave you both emotionally drained and buzzing for more. And if you aren’t tingling with goosebumps when Wayne sets foot in the Batcave for the first time, then you may want to check your pulse.
Banish all memories of cringeworthy dialogue and rubber nipples: this is how you make a Batman film. Cowls off to Nolan and Bale.
A Batman film directed by Memento's Christopher Nolan always had the potential to be something special and thankfully the finished product does not disappoint.
Whilst keeping all of the key elements from the comic, Nolan has weaved an original story that adds depth and believability to the caped crusaders struggle like none that has gone before it. His Bruce Wayne (Bale) is arguably the best there has ever been. Choosing Christian Bale as his lead was a stroke of genius and sets the tone of the film from the start. He is suitably uncertain as Wayne and characteristically intense once inside the latex mask.
The plot first details Wayne's evolution from rich orphan to masked crime fighter before the action begins and he attempts to save Gotham from another dastardly plot. It could easily be described as a film of two halves. The latter is full to the brim of action with some of the best sequences of the summer. The former is more sedate but makes up for it by offering up the bulk of the plot.
Every aspect of the mythos has been given an update. The main villain - the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) – is as unhinged and dangerous as they come, a far cry from the camp badies who dragged down previous efforts. However, the most drastic alteration of all is reserved for the Batmobile. Gone is the cartoonish fake of the previous films, replaced by an all terrain battle tank that actually looks like it could do some damage.
As I have said already, Bale is great as Batman. The supporting cast too are equally impressive. Honourable mentions must go to Batman's support network: honest cop Officer Gordon (Gary Oldman), the always loyal Alfred the Butler (Caine); and Lucius (Morgan Freeman), a veritable dispenser of high-tech goodies. His childhood friend / love interest Rachel (Holmes) and the mysterious Ducard (Liam Neeson) complete the A-list segment of the line-up.
Overall it works unbelievably well. Nolan has created a film that is sure to appeal far beyond its cult base and is arguably the finest comic book adaptation of recent years. It is a big action film that needs to be seen on the big screen for full effect.
Screenings of this film:
|2005/2006 Autumn Term – (35mm)|
|2005/2006 Autumn Term – (35mm)|
|2012/2013 Autumn Term – (35mm)|