Batman Begins (2005)

“Summer of Film #14 of 100”:
Batman Begins (2005)Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins teaches an important lesson in screenwriting. You can rescue a so-so film with a spectacular climax.

For all practical purposes, this is the first Batman movie. It tells the classical superhero origin story in its own reimagined way. While this may not be the best Batman movie ever, this is by far the best Batman of all time. As a character, Batman as played by Christian Bale, is one of the most well developed and well acted superheroes. The problem with previous incarnations was that you did not know about (or care about) Bruce Wayne. For the first time, with Batman Begins, you actually do. More than you do about Batman.

Part of the problem there is that Nolan is not good with the action scenes. Since everything in Batman movies is black- heroes, villains, thugs, cops, sky, buildings- and since Nolan won’t keep the camera still, the hand-to-hand action is hard to follow and monotonous. His strength is in character development; not action.

The beginning of the film is troubled with these problems and with intermittent flashbacks which add little besides melodrama. The movie is rescued by a stellar cast- especially Bale and Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow- and a virtuoso climax where the inmates of the fabled Arkham asylum are let lose in Gotham. The cast also includes Gary Oldman as the cop Gordon (later Commisioner), Ken Wattanabe (The Last Samurai) as the phantom Ra’s Al Ghul, Liam Neeson as Ducard, Michael Caine as the butler Alfred, Katie Holmes as the potential girlfriend-cum-assistant-DA, Morgan Freeman, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer and the new-fangled Batmobile which is a cross between a hummer and a tank. It’s a Hollywood’s who’s-who; everyone’s invited. I’m just wondering who’s left to star in the next one?

P.S. Nice to see someone take such glorious advantage of Chicago. It makes for a great Gotham.


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