Friday, July 18, 2008
REVIEW: Batman Begins
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Katie Holmes, Michael Caine
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13
After the disaster that was Batman & Robin, Warner Bros. really had no choice, but to reboot the series. Their was no way that they can continue from that and expect sales when the last film turned out to be a flop. Director Darren Aronofsky who directed other great movies such as Pi and Requiem for a Dream was slated to direct a new reboot of Batman. He was going to direct it based on the graphic novel "Batman: Year One". However, the guys at Warner Bros. put a stop on the production because they thought the script strayed far from the source material. Then the studio executives were impressed by director Nolan for his work on Memento and asked him to direct the new Batman film. Nolan agreed and set out to make the best Batman film ever.
Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels the world starting fights with thugs and petty criminals to shadow over his guilt over the death of his parents, Thomas Wayne (Linus Roache) and Martha Wayne (Sara Stewart). He is greeted by the mysterious Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), who promises that he and legendary warrior Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) can teach him to turn fear against those who prey on the fearful. Bruce takes him up on his offer and learns to become a warrior of justice. But when he is asked by his mentor, Ducard, to kill a prisoner, he refuses...claiming that his compassion is the only thing that separates he and his enemies. Bruce is nearly killed as a result, only to survive and return to Gotham and become the hero he was born to be.
Christopher Nolan takes over directing duties from Joel Schumacher who directed the last Batman film. Not only does Nolan do a better job directing, but his attention to detail is simply phenomenal. The plot is great and actually has a story that's meaningful. We get an origin to Batman that explains how the dark knight came to be. These are told in a series of flashbacks. Theirs plenty of action and entertainment that shouldn't disappoint fans. The villains we get here aren't really popular like the Joker or Mr. Freeze was, but they are still great. Even though the movie isn't the Year One script that Aronofsky was going to direct, but it still has some elements of that script kind of like easter eggs if you will. Nolan also does a great job really listening to fans of the comics. The movie isn't 100% accurate compared to the comics, but Nolan gets closer to them than any of the previous directors have. Begins is also much darker than the last two Batman films. It isn't dark to the level of Burton's Batman films were, but its definitely darker than Schumacher's versions. Gotham City feels like present day New York which isn't a bad thing since I was getting tired of Gotham being this small old city.
The cast of Begins is great and easily outdoes the cast in the previous Batman films. Christian Bale plays as Batman/Bruce Wayne and he gives a great performance. He takes both these characters really seriously and really looks like he wants to please the audience. While I still prefer Michael Keaton as Batman, I think Bale was an excellent replacement. Liam Neeson plays as Henri Ducard and I really enjoyed his work here. I couldn't imagine him as being the bad guy in the film and yet he surprised me. He too looked pretty serious in his role. Cillian Murphy plays as Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane and he too gives a great performance. I really liked Murphy in Red Eye and he does another fine job here. Katie Holmes plays as Rachel Dawes and I liked her in this movie. I did think she was alittle dull in the beginning, but she proved to be better as the movie went on. I also think she looked great next to Bale. We also have Michael Caine playing as Alfred Pennyworth. He plays a much more lively Alfred compared to Michael Gough, but I think I liked Gough more as Alfred.
The visual look of Batman Begins is mostly in the middle with Burton's films on top and Schumacher's on the bottom. Its dark, but not creepy dark. Their isn't a whole lot of CGI used in the film since director Nolan doesn't like them. The movie was just released in 2005 so it comes to no surprise that the film's source is an great shape. I didn't detect any film grain and the image seemed very clean. Colors look wonderfully striking. Sure the movie is shot alot at night, but some of the early scenes are focused in the mountains. These early scenes in the mountains have a nice blue overcast setting to them. Blacks are nice and inky like they should be. Detail is pretty great and noticeable. Environments look very sharp. Since their are no film grain, this results in a clean yet detailed image.
The soundtrack in Begins is just as great as the film. Composer James Newton Howard composes a fantastic score that easily rivals the one Elfman created for the first two Batman films. I didn't really enjoy Elliot Goldenthal's score that he composed for Schumacher's Batman films. Even though they were very lively, I always thought they sounded alittle too cartoon-ish. Howard's score goes perfectly with Nolan's directing and easily matches the story. It doesn't sound anything like the previous scores. I'm glad we got a new score for this Batman film since it was a reboot. Bass is very impressive and loud. Their were many scenes where the bass just completely blew me away. Dynamics are strong and aggressive. My surround sound was literally rocking. This is easily my new demo disc to show off.
Batman Begins is a great film and honestly the best Batman film to date. Christopher Nolan has done a fantastic job here and he really saved this series from dieing. His attention to detail is great and he really sounds like he loves the Batman series. The story is interesting and worth watching. The cast does a great job with everyone giving out some of the best performances I have seen in awhile. The visual look of the movie is dark, but not too dark. Its detailed and free of grain. The soundtrack is bombastic with the film having an impressive score. I can easily recommend this to fans of Batman and for those who want a really great movie. This is the Batman movie we have been waiting for.