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Batman Begins (DVD, 2005, 2-Disc Set, Special Edition)
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Batman Begins For The Umpteenth Time
Jun 20, 2005 (Updated Jun 29, 2005)
Review by Charles Morris
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:The TRUE Batman makes his long-awaited return.
Cons:Wanted to see more Ken Watantabe.
The Bottom Line: Bob Kane's creation is finally portrayed the way it was meant to be.
They told me there was nothing out there, nothing to fear. But the night my parents were murdered I caught a glimpse of something. I've looked for it ever since. I went around the world, searched in all the shadows. And there is something out there in the darkness, something terrifying, something that will not stop until it gets revenge. Me.
Recommend this product?
-Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins
Not everyone gets to conquer his or her primal fears and use it in a positive way. The majority of people try to avoid facing any obstacles hoping that it doesn't become a detrimental force that hinders or paralyzes our very being. The select few find alternate ways of dealing with such adversity.
DC Comics and Warner Brothers were still stinging after the last Batman movie-the now infamous Batman & Robin-practically put an end to the Bat-franchise eight years ago. They feared it couldn't be resuscitated from the dead. To make matters worse, DC's comic book rivalsMarvel Comicshave been slapping them in the face with win after win on the big screen with recent blockbuster hits containing a merry band of mutants and a certain web-swinging hero (X-Men and Spider-Man if I was being too cryptic). Could DC and Warner Brothers dispel any fear they had by bringing back Batman to the silver screen?
Batman Begins explores this theme of fear, and how it affects anyone regardless of strength. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is our guide in this dark and brooding tale as we see him conquer his demons transforming himself in the process to the Dark Knight-Batman. It's a safe assumption that everyone knows Batman's origins; it was touched upon briefly in the four previous films. But the powers-to-be weren't going to take that chance. Instead they opted to tell the tale from the beginning hoping to penetrate the depths of the Batman legend, and reintroduce his story to old and new generation alike.
The Untold Legend of Batman
Being a comic aficionado (translation: geek) for well over 25 years, I wanted to see what pieces from the comic book would be translated to the silver screen, so it was to my surprise and delight that Henri Ducard (Liam Nesson), one of Bruce Wayne's teachers, was going to make his presence known. How he was going to be utilized only director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) and screenplay writer David S. Goyer (the Blade trilogy) knew?
You traveled the world... Now you must journey inwards... to what you really fear... it's inside you... there is no turning back.
-Henri Ducard, Batman Begins
The mysterious Ducard rescues Bruce from an Asian prison and offers this lost soul a chance to find himself and conquer his fears-his childhood trauma of bats and is failure to prevent his parents' death at the hand of Joe Chill, a common street thug (yes people, Joe Chill is the one who really gunned down the Waynes). Bruce agrees, and is tutored in the ways of honour, stealth and justice, all under of the watchful eye of the enigma known as Ra's Al Ghül (Ken Watanabe), leader of the League of Shadows. They part ways with disastrous results when their ideals clash, making Ducard his enemy and leaving Wayne pondering on how to fight evil back in Gotham City.
Batman's origins are explored even more. We know the tragic event that happened in his life and we know that he becomes Batman, but what we don't know is how he prepared and trained himself for the role. This movie shows one facet of his overseas studies. That's right, just one. Did you honestly think he learned everything from one person? No, Bruce Wayne sought out the best teachers in order to become the best. But he still can't do it alone.
Solitary Figure Seeks Loyal Companions
For someone who is defined as a loner, Batman surrounds himself with many allies.
First and foremost is the family butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), Bruce's conscience and father figure. Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), unknowingly, equips Batman with the latest hardware needed in his crime-fighting activity. Sgt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) is the moral compass in Gotham City, always trying to rise above the corruption that seeps in every corner. He comes to the realization that the Bat-Man is here to help. All three men play important roles in Batman's world in his crusade for justice. Notice how I said Batman and not Bruce Wayne, a distinction that doesn't escape District Attorney Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), Bruce's childhood friend. Bruce Wayne, the billionaire playboy, is just the mask.
I spent a lot of time being scared for you. And I heard you were back. But the man I loved, the man who vanished never came back.
-Rachel Dawes, Batman Begins
Evil Has Many Faces
Now you think, just because your mommy and your daddy got shot, you know about the ugly side of life, but you don't. You've never tasted desperate. You're Bruce Wayne, the Prince of Gotham, you'd have to go a thousand miles to meet someone who didn't know your name, so don't come down here with your anger, trying to prove something to yourself. This is a world you'll never understand. And you always fear what you don't understand.
-Carmine Falcone, Batman Begins
Fear has always been used as a weapon, and people with evil intentions will always take advantage of it. Bruce discovers that evil comes in many guises on all levels.
Underworld, crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) understands this notion. His corruptible influence is felt from high-ranking officials to the lowliest of street thugs.
Wayne Enterprise chairman Richard Earle (Rutger Hauer) shows his power through intimidation and deceitful practices, always trying to maintain the upper hand.
Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), psychologist for Arkham Asylum, an institute for the criminally insane, uses his knowledge of fear and injects deadly fear toxins to paralyze the citizens of Gotham City as the fear-monger Scarecrow.
Naturally, the Scarecrow doesn't work alone to cause this state of confusion as he is in league with Ra's Al Ghül.
Rekindling With The Fans
Nolan returns Batman to his dark, comic book origins and realizes that he needs to construct a solid, believable base for the character, trusting that the audience will understand and be patient as he paints this painstakingly, shadowy world. This isn't Tim Burton's surreal painting or Joel Schumacher's over-the-top, colourful travesty. Instead, Nolan grounds his version into reality (or as real as a world would be with a man running around dressed as a giant bat) without the pop-culture gimmicks. He is here to tell a story and borrows a page out of Richard Donner's Superman who allowed the audience to get to know and familiarize themselves with the personalities and locations.
In a brilliant move Warner Brothers hired a writer who actually works in the comic book field and understands the core of the character. David Goyer is no stranger to the world of superheroes having written the JSA comic books as well as writing the screenplays for the Blade trilogy. It's one of the things that Warner Bros. did right to appease the comic book fans.
Christian Bale owns this role; he wears the cape and cowl convincingly, but his strength comes across by showing us the trials and tribulations of Bruce Wayne. We actually have sympathy for the character, perhaps for the very first time, and understand where all his fears and angst are coming from. His seriousness to the role sets the way for the other performers to showcase their talents and what they bring to this movie. Michael Caine is charming and always fatherly; Morgan Freeman is witty and likable; Gary Oldman, in a rare event, gets to play a good guy and makes us root for his success. They perform without dumbing down the material and winking at the audience.
If this is the beginning of sequels for the Bat-franchise, then Batman is off to more-than-a-good start. The tone of the film stresses the serious commitment to doing justice to this character, more evident by the final moment of the film, which, in gleeful anticipation, sets up the villain for the next movie. I can finally wash away the sins of past movie-making and squeal in delight.
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