“IT’S THE BATMAN!” MOVIE REVIEW (CHRISTIAN BALE EDITION): The first entry of this new edition to the Batman marathon is “Batman Begins,” which stars Christian Bale (American Hustle, American Psycho), Liam Neeson (Taken, Non-Stop), Michael Caine (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Austin Powers in Goldmember), Katie Holmes (Dawson’s Creek [TV series], Phone Booth), Gary Oldman (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Lawless), Cillian Murphy (Inception, 28 Days Later…), Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy), Tom Wilkinson (Little Boy, Michael Clayton), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Letter from Iwo Jima), and Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, Sin City). It is directed by Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Inception) who also co-wrote it with David S. Goyer (Man of Steel, Blade). Billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (Bale) is resurrected in this serious, realistic version of the Batman universe. When Bruce returns home after facing his fears and training far away in Asia, he comes to face a threat on Gotham hidden in the mob. The mob, run by Carmine Falcone (Wilkinson), has corrupted Gotham as well as most of the police department, paying people off so he can do his wrongful deeds. To restore Gotham back to its former glory, Bruce creates a hero out of his own fear, later to be known as the Batman. But little does Bruce know that a new villain is on the rise, one who uses fear to get what he wants.
Commencing deep, raspy Batman voice….now! Okay, so to get things straight, I have never seen any of the Christopher Nolan Batman films. You’re gasping, I know, and if you aren’t, well you should because these movies are rather popular, especially “The Dark Knight.” It’s not that I didn’t want to watch these, it’s just I never had the resources to do it. I was always in reach of “Batman Begins,” but the others had to be bought. None of that matters anyway though, because now I have them and now I can review them. Every hero has to start somewhere, which is basically the overarching storyline of this movie. It’s Batman’s origin, and whether you’ve seen it a million times before this movie or not, it still has to be told to start a franchise. I’m not annoyed at it, because it offers a plot that I can take a lot from, and the death of Bruce’s parents doesn’t take up too much of the runtime. With that said, what makes this such a good movie? Well, for starters, the story is fantastic. The origin story was delivered on a grand scale and offered several mini plot lines to wrap this movie up in a gift-like fashion. Sure, it can be too overwhelming at times (which I will discuss later on), but at least we get to explore some great villains and get to know Batman as if he were a realistic figure. That’s what Nolan tries to get at in this movie: realism. I don’t see really anything in this film that seems too comic-derived, but in a way it’s better than overindulgence like Tim Burton’s Batman movies. There are a bunch of things to take from this movie, certain morals, phrases, or themes that can definitely be memorable. I think what really pulled it in for me though, was the characters and the decisions in terms of casting. Of course it’s a Batman movie so you already have interesting characters. But once you get Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, and freaking Morgan Freeman in the mix, you’re gonna have an even killer piece of filmmaking. I don’t know how they did it, but they got the best of the best. In terms of them each individually on performances, I enjoyed all of them. I thought Christian Bale was a step up from Michael Keaton, although I do respect Keaton for he did portray a good Bruce Wayne. Bale also brought a great Batman to the table. I don’t want some guy dancing around in a plastic suit looking like a goof. I want a Batman like the comics: awesome, agile, strong, cunning, and just plain epic. Bale does a good job, even though the Batman voice can be a little pet peeve (it isn’t that bad in this movie for the most part). Michael Caine did a fantastic job as Alfred and he is probably my choice if I had to choose someone to portray the character. It is always nice to see a Bruce and Alfred bonding moment. Liam Neeson….man….the guy’s good! After seeing lame sequels to a great movie (“Taken”) and some okay to pretty good movies (ranging from “The Grey” to “Run All Night”), it was definitely refreshing to see him fleshed out in a role that actually is supported by a terrific script, even though this was made before the titles I mentioned. Outside of the acting, I want to focus on the action scenes. Watching some of the bonus features for this, Nolan wanted to excluded as much CGI as possible, and I commend him on that. CGI is a good tool, but it gets outdated fast and even during the year it’s made, some of it can be noticeably fake. All the fight scenes were choreographed greatly and I enjoyed every minute of it. With the villains, I thought they were pretty good. Ra’s al Ghul (Neeson) and the Scarecrow (Murphy) have such depth in the comics and they aren’t really given much force in this movie, but with such good performances, how can’t you not like them? With my pros out-of-the-way, let’s get down to cons. My main issue I had with this movie is how there are tiny things to nitpick. Sure, it shouldn’t be a mentionable con, but I can’t help it when something silly happens like Bruce calling Alfred to help him while saying it in his Batman voice (no one was around). Certain things like that can make me question things. I didn’t laugh, but my mind sure did. The next con I have is probably my last since it ties two into one: the melting pot of many little stories. Sure, I wrote that I really liked it earlier, but that doesn’t mean it was always perfect. What this movie likes to do is move on from one checkpoint to the next, leaving the previous one behind only to be uncovered again towards the ending. There really isn’t a main story in this other than the fact of Bruce becoming Batman. And with two villains it can be overcrowded. Technically it was because none of the villains were showcased long enough to even be considered a main one. I guess Ra’s al Ghul is the one since Scarecrow was a chump and got less screen time. It kind of points to the “Spider-Man 3” epidemic when Spider-Man faced both Venom and the Sandman. Yeah it’s fun, but there isn’t a lot of character development involved with at least one of the villains. One has to come out on top. Although I feel this way about the plot, I still enjoyed it. It’s such a great experience and a well-crafted piece of cinema. If you ever want to cut to the chase and watch a fantastic Batman movie that doesn’t intend to look goofy, I’d say choose this one, for it was awesome. FINAL SCORE: 94%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: