Batman Begins explores the origins of the Batman legend and the Dark Knight’s emergence as a force for good in Gotham. In the wake of his parents’ murder, disillusioned industrial heir Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale)travels the world seeking the means to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful. He returns to Gotham and unveils his alter-ego: Batman, a masked crusader who uses his strength, intellect and an array of high tech deceptions to fight the sinister forces that threaten the city.
Since Tim Burton’s brilliant 1989 version of Batman, starring Michael Keaton as the caped crusader and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, the series saw a steady downhill progression towards mockery and self-parody. Batman Begins discards the previous series and retells the story of Bruce Wayne- from his parents’ death while he was just a child to his adoption of the persona of the caped crusader. The brilliantly casted Christian Bale plays Bruce and after growing up and a stint at college, flees the Gotham to live among thieves and study the criminal mind in Asia. The multi-billion dollar heir soon finds himself in jail somewhere in northern China until a man named Ducard, the master of a group of ninjas known as the League of Shadows, rescues him. Liam Neeson, who is cast in yet another mentor role plays Ducard and begins teaching Wayne the ways of the ninja. Nearing the end of his instruction, Bruce Wayne leaves the League of Shadows, much to the disdain of Ducard, for Gotham City to avenge the death of his parents and make the streets of Gotham safe again.
Ultimately the film more than lived up to all expectations which, for me, were quite high. In Batman Begins we see a return to the darkness and abrasiveness that I believe is the essence of Batman. Christopher Nolan, who directed the film and writer David Goyer do an incredible job of resurrecting this once lost film franchise. My only gripe is with the casting of Katie Holmes- obviously her portraying a district attorney is a bit of a stretch, and the recent Tom Cruise… thing just kind of detracts from her performance, however Katie and Cruise got together after the movie had been filmed, so I can’t criticize the filmmakers for that one, and from what I’ve heard, her role will be recast for the next film in the series. The greatest feat by the filmmakers is making the story and the characters absolutely believable. Instead of the viewing sitting with the notion that they are viewing a superhero flick, they are totally enthralled in the story. The special effects are used only when necessary and to enhance the film, so there’s no hokiness where that’s concerned and there are absolutely no overly flamboyant acrobatics and absurd slow-motion martial arts moves, thank God.
Overall, this film is an instant classic. Nolan and Goyer have brought life back to this dead film franchise and I absolutely cannot wait to see The Dark Knight. I waited with such anticipation for this movie to finally hit theaters and it was much like the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the fact that I simply knew before seeing it that I was going to be awed. Although, with that kind of a hype around it, I was extra critical of every aspect and a little weary going into it. However overshot my expectations were, Batman Begins did not disappoint- it was smart, dark, beautifully written, and executed wonderfully- everything it should have been.
The Limited Edition Gift Set which was just released on July 8th is must have for Batman fans. The single disc Blu-ray Hi-Def Gift Set also includes The Dark Knight Prologue (the first six minutes of the film), a Batman Begins motion art lenticular, a 32-page booklet including an all-new DC Comics comic book adaptation of The Dark Knight prologue, exclusive photos, script pages and story boards. This Gift Set will also include five Batman Begins collectible postcards with never-before printed key art from the theatrical release, as well as $7.50 “movie cash” towards the purchase of an adult ticket to see The Dark Knight in theaters. Simply put, it’s a must-have for any Batman fan.
Review by Emma Loggins