You’ll find my email address at the top of this review. You’ll want to make a note of it most likely, as I thought this was a highly problematic film, and I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as everyone else seems to have done. The film’s greatest triumph is that it utterly delivers on the title. It explains Bruce Wayne in a way that no other film version has done before, and after seeing this, you realise that that’s what’s always been missing from previous celluloid versions of the character. And it’s not just dry history either. The 1989 Tim Burton film and its sequel together recapped the origin, and told how Batman was born, but failed to explain why. This film does so, and while it may veer toward the pretentious at times as it does, it justifies the title. However, this is something of a double-edged sword, as the filmmakers spend so much time and effort paying such close attention to the examination of Batman that the rest of the characters go to waste. Ducard is a bare nugget of an interesting character, as is Alfred. Here we have two father/mentor characters worthy of comparison, a fertile ground for drama, but both are given short thrift. Ken Watanabe is similarly wasted in the Ra’s role. Given the fuss over his casting, you’d expect more, but on the other hand, his tiny screen presence does lead to a clever plot twist. Nonetheless, as by far the most watchable thing in The Last Samurai, it’s a shame that he wasn’t given more to do. The biggest missed opportunity in the entire film is Gary Oldman as Gordon; here we have another interesting character but we are shown little of his personality and his relationship with Batman. Something that should be a core feature of the film, is barely sketched out. That it’s an actor like Oldman makes it even worse; it’s heartbreaking to see an actor of his calibre giggling like a child and delivering one-liners solely because that’s all that’s left for him to do. The problem here is the inclusion of Katie Holmes; she is clearly here only to provide some sort of female presence, and her character’s role in the film is far too similar to that of Gordon. One or the other of them should have have been cut from the film and the other given their scenes; given that Oldman is by far the better actor, and Holmes’s character is written out at the climax of the film anyway, it seems that it would have been sensible to bulk up the Gordon role. But of course, there wouldn’t be a demographically-pleasing female lead in the film, and that would be terrible… However, all these sacrifices allow Christian Bale to make the most of his screen time getting to grips with his character, and he does so admirably. The first half hour or so, of the young Bruce Wayne in training, is the most effective and evocative part of the film, and Bale really nails the character and makes it his own, even though the entire sequence feels like it was lifted from Highlander. However, Bale is less successful as Batman; as soon as he puts on the suit, he immediately begins channelling Michael Keaton’s portrayal. The body language and mannerisms are absolutely identical, and it’s only Bale’s ridiculous Tom Waits growl that distinguishes the two. Bale’s impersonation of Michael Keaton is not the only debt this film owes to Burton’s version; from the moment the suit makes an appearance it feels like a remake of the 1989 film. It doesn’t look like a remake, however. The film-makers have gone for a completely different design sensibility for this film, shedding the gothic excesses of Burton’s films and the day-glo nonsense of Schumacher’s “efforts” in favour of an overall look that owes more to Blade Runner or Seven. The sense of urban decay comes across very well, only slightly marred by the use of downtown Chicago for the overhead shots; the contrast between the grubby soundstages and the shiny downtown area is too jarring for it to depict the same city convincingly. The Scarecrow, a character that could so easily have been made ridiculous, is given a design that reflects the overall feel of the film, making him appear, appropriately, like the antagonist from a slasher movie. All in all, the more down to earth design of the film works in its favour, and it was an excellent choice. I’m also pleased to see (hear?) a major movie soundtrack that relies on the strength of the score, and rejects endless nu-metal blandfests, even for the credits; while the score could have done with some sort of central hero theme, it nonetheless works very well as a mood piece. In the end, Batman Begins reminds me a great deal of Ang Lee’s Hulk; a bold vision, trying do something interesting with the superhero concept, and with considerable success, but that in its intense devotion to quality somehow misses the element of fun, the wish-fulfillment aspect of superhero fiction. As good as it was, this film didn’t do anything for me. There wasn’t that buzz of excitement that I felt when I saw Raimi’s Spider-Man, or Unbreakable, or, yes, the 1989 Batman. Oh and DC? As an artistic company, surely you can come up with a better movie ident than just the Marvel one with a blue wash? Batman Begins (2005) Review3.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.