Batman Begins

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Batman Begins
Review (8.5/10)
(By Will Perkins)

Batman Begins is a new start for the Batman franchise. Gone is the gothic vision of the Tim Burton films. Forgotten are the reprehensible Joel Schumacher sequels. What remains is director Christopher Nolan's take on the franchise - and man does it work. Nolan's previous works includes Memento and Insomnia, and what made those films great is present in Batman Begins. The film is not a prequel, but rather a fresh start for the franchise - Batman is finally given a proper origin story. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), billionaire heir to the Wayne family fortune, distraught and confused after the murder of his parents at the hands of a common crook seeks to put his past behind him. Gotham City has become a cesspool of urban decay and corruption. Disgusted by the way things are going in Gotham, Bruce leaves the city without telling anyone and is presumed dead. His destination is an unnamed Asian country, where he falls under the tutelage of Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson). Ducard belongs to a mysterious group known as the League of Shadows, a group dedicated to ridding the world of evil and corruption. For years Bruce hones his martial skills as a 'means to fight injustice'. He intends to return to Gotham and make things right. Bruce believes that a man can only do so much, but if he can make himself into a symbol, something people can believe in, he will be able to help Gotham City and do his parents justice. He takes up the mantle of the Dark Knight - he becomes Batman.

Batman Begins is more about Bruce Wayne than Batman. Wayne has always played second fiddle to the Caped Crusader in the films, but here we learn more about his past and the reasons he has become Batman. The film is a smart, very much character driven piece, as opposed to the comic book feel of the last 4 films. The cast is a veritable who's who of great actors - there isn't a bad performance in the movie. Of particular note are Christian Bale, Liam Neeson and Gary Oldman. Bale has the perfect brooding air about him to play Batman, and at the same time plays Bruce Wayne with all the pompous billionaire behaviour you'd expect from him. Gary Oldman, in an odd turn, plays it straight for the entire movie as Sergeant (soon to be Commissioner) Gordon. Cillian Murphy gives an incredibly creepy performance as Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow. When the effects of The Scarecrow's hallucinogenic drugs are seen on screen it is truly disturbing - definitely not for a kids movie. Nolan's direction gives the franchise what it has been lacking in the past - realism. Watching the movie you actually feel like it's plausible for this guy to run around fighting crime in a giant bat costume. There are too many other really cool things about this movie to describe and it would take paragraphs to explain them all.

On the downside, the movie is a little slow in parts, but the action sequences more than make up for this. The Batmobile chase scene is one of the highlights of the film. You'll be on the edge of your seat from start to finish. One problem people may have with the movie is that there isn't a lot of Batman in the movie. Bruce Wayne does not don the cape and cowl until about halfway through the movie. Some may have qualms with this, but I didn't mind it as it made sense in the context of the story.

This is the Batman movie fans have been waiting for. It is very evident the movie has been influenced by the darker side of the Batman universe. The film is dark, brooding and gritty - and feels real. The acting is top notch, and the movie as a whole is just really interesting to watch. The movie is less about the crazy villain of the week, and more about a man, Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman, coming to terms with his past and trying to make a difference.

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