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MOVIE REVIEWS: BATMAN BEGINS

by Dawn, February 16, 2010

That’s right we have brought you the great world of comic book movies. If you haven’t seen the new “remakes” of the Batman movies… I highly suggest it. Don’t take my word alone though. Read what our OBS staff has to say.

Brought to you by OBS staff member Karolina

Name: Batman Begins
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 140 minutes

Director: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis
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. (Source: http://www.wbshop.com/)

Review
As a huge fan of the character of Batman from a young age, and someone who (while appreciating the other films for what they were) watched the Batman film franchise slowly but surely deteriorate, I must admit I was quite apprehensive when it was announced that Batman was being re-imagined. Every piece of information that came to light back then made me squirm in my chair. Christian Bale as Batman – I liked Christian Bale, but would he be the Bat? What about Alfred? And Commissioner Gordon? Would there be a Dick Grayson/Robin, or a Barbara Gordon/Batgirl?? (NB: I’m quite a fan of Dick Grayson in the comics – not so much in the previous movie adaptations)

I needn’t have worried. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins leaves the other Batman films in the dust (bar Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ which was fabulous for the late 80’s version of Batman), and relies heavily on the comic book Batman; a broody caped crusader, mired by a family tragedy, with strong values living in a city that is a cesspool of crime and corruption. The viewer is shown iconic scenes from the comic books (ie; a young Bruce Wayne kneeling over his slain parents in a Gotham City alley way) and yet some one who has never known the Batman comics world is given enough information, and new twists, to know exactly what is going on and not feel lost.

Christian Bale owns the portrayal of both Bruce Wayne and the Batman. For the solitary figure that Batman is, he has a brilliant supporting cast in Michael Caine’s portrayal of the ever loyal, and constantly long suffering, Alfred (the Waynes’ Butler), the street wise, heart-of-gold but slightly jaded Captain Gordon, played by Gary Oldman, and Lucius Fox, Bruce Wayne’s right-hand man, played by Morgan Freeman. There’s also a new character thrown in the mix, the strong willed, idealistic childhood love of Bruce Wayne, Rachel Dawes, played here by Katie Holmes (later played by Maggie Gyllenhaal).

In the ‘villains’ corner, we have ‘The Scarecrow’ – again a quite recognisable character to those who know the Batman comics – Jonathan Crane, a psychologist gone rogue, played superbly by Cillian Murphy. Carmine Falcone (played by Tom Wilkinson) is also ripped from the pages of Batman: Year One. Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe), one of Batman’s fiercest foes in the comics also features in this movie. There is a minor villain as well, more Bruce Wayne’s enemy than Batman’s, Earle, ‘head’ of the Wayne business, who doesn’t take kindly to the fact that Bruce has returned to Gotham, years after being incommunicado, and he is played by Rutger Hauer.

Then, there’s Liam Neeson, who is wonderful in his role as Ducard – a man who, in the comics, is one of the Bat’s greatest teachers. He gets his own paragraph, because, like the Batman himself, he walks a fine line between light and dark – in the comics -and definitely in this movie.

This movie combines a sound knowledge of the Batman comics with it’s own refreshing twist; known characters getting a new angle to them, while still being clearly recognisable – and new characters fit well in the story. There were a few changes to Bruce’s tragic story from the comics, and some comic book fans were a little frustrated by this, but I think it worked for the movie setting, and for the story that Christopher Nolan wanted to tell. It’s a story of loss, and of fear, and of empowerment to overcome that fear, and of determination. And, of course, it’s the story of a man who will become one of the greatest superheroes of the DC-verse, one devoid of superpowers, but who has the smarts, the money, and the passion to be the best (and dresses up as a bat). The stellar cast are all in top form and wonderful to watch in this.

I could go on forever, but I will end by saying this: even five years on, and in light of it’s phenomenal sequel, this movie is still so worth watching.

Rating: 8.5/10 stars

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