Batman Begins

Oops! I almost forgot to post a review of this, which would be a crying shame given that with any luck this will be the film that revives the franchise. I thought ‘Batman Forever’ was a bit of a mess and I refused to even see ‘Batman and Robin’, something which is damning indeed coming from a guy who likes to make time for Batman (him being the only superhero I get in any way worked up about). At last Batman is where he should be – on the big screen kicking Marvel arse in terms of depth and sophistication as opposed to being a kiddie puller in a series of cartoonish parodies. Admittedly, I will never love a Batman film as much as I loved the two original Warner Brothers films as directed by Tim Burton, but ‘Batman Begins’ comes pretty close in my affections.

 

Reason number one is darkness. This is a film about fear. It’s about mastering fear, about the effects of fear and about the ways in which fear drives people. Batman fears some things from his childhood, the Scarecrow manipulates the terrified panic of Jonathan Crane’s mental patients and crime bosses all over Gotham play off the terror of the general population. The solution of the plot comes in a whirl of moral dilemmas and changed allegiances and the whole is set in Gotham’s nightmarish underbelly.

 

Reason number two is the best casting ever. Michael Caine’s version of Alfred is spot-on for the character’s role in the story, providing a warm, human support for the mentally scarred Bruce Wayne in a way that Michael Gough (his predecessor in the role) could never hope to have achieved. Liam Neeson plays a believable misguided soul while Cillian Murphy’s Crane is wonderfully creepy. Never does this film descend into comic-book farce as ‘Batman Forever’ did with its over-the-top acting and cartoonish costumes – this is a tangible vision of Batman’s world and one that can be easily believed.

 

Finally, as you watch it, don’t let the discontinuity annoy you: personally, I doubt it was ever meant as a prequel to the previous films, more a regeneration with its own future sequels intended.

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~ by Scary Rob on 28 June, 2005.

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