Batman Begins

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Batman Begins
Review (8/10)
(By Takato Yamashita)

Batman has always been one of the most interesting of superheroes. While Spider-Man always dealt with the human side of the equation, Superman with the nobility and the X-Men with the moral equation, Batman has always dealt with the most interesting of topics - the human psyche. At its best (ie. no camp, no Schumacher) Batman always tried to examine the dark side of humanity and the elements of the criminal mind.

With a return to the roots of what made Batman great, Batman Begins shows promise. Not that the full promise was realized, for while the psychological examination of Bruce Wayne/Batman was delivered well, it seemed to lack a sense of focus. Somehow the conflict within wasn't as rich as I thought it would be given the choice of Christopher Nolan (Memento) to direct the movie. That's not to say it was bad - it was very good - it just wasn't great. And while this was examined for a good part of the movie, when it came to the climax, the turmoil had very little impact on what happened. Still it was an excellent first step and I look forward to having it fleshed out even more in any sequels/prequels that will inevitably follow.

As for the movie in general, on the plus side, Katie Holmes wasn't nearly as bad as I thought she might be. While she wasn't strong by any means, it's more in the way she was written rather than the way she was portrayed.

On the negative side, the Batmobile was too gratuitous. While it was a pretty cool sequence, it added little to the movie and if anything distracted from the whole Bat-mystique. This was the one area that really seemed to be a studio executive add-on to sell more toys.

On the positive, the acting was very good. Christian Bale did an excellent turn as Batman and aside from his hair in certain scenes he interacted well with all the other notables including the always excellent Liam Neeson, the dry Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. Gary Oldman was solid and I anticipate a greater role for him in the sequels. Ken Watanabe was wasted in his role though.

Again on the negative, there was no true villain to act as a foil for Batman. Now maybe this is a good thing, as they focused more on Batman rather than the villains like they did in the previous Bat-failures, but a strong villain would have really brought out some of Batman's turmoil.

And finally on the positive, the movie looks good. While Tim Burton's fantastical Gotham may have had more poetry, this version seems more real and as an extension more acceptable to the regular movie-going population. (I'll be honest in that I personally like the Burton one but it's really a matter of taste). This more realistic view also fits well into the overall approach that Nolan took.

Overall, this movie has far more positives then negatives and what we are left with is a far more 'real' Batman. This is the one that restores the Batman mystique and lays a solid foundation on more Bat-films to come.

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