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Batman Begins - Review

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Batman Begins Remember what happened the last time we saw Batman on film? Arnold Schwarzenegger was running around Gotham City and the Bat-suit had nipples. The laughable Batman and Robin supposedly killed this franchise, but who would have guessed that eight years later a brand new Batman would rise from the ashes of that disaster? Batman Begins, as the name suggests, wipes the slate clean and starts from the very beginning. Which, it turns out, is a very good place to start. The opening flashback reveals that the young Bruce Wayne was frightened by - wait for it - bats, although unfazed by bullies in the Asian prison he resides in as an adult. This is very far away from Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy etc. and sets the tone for this much darker, grittier Batman film. Fear is what this is all about, the weapon of both Batman and his enemies, and is what really makes this movie interesting. ...read more.


Neeson does well in his mentor role, although Ducard's philosophical sound-bites are a bit too Jedi-ish for us to forget who it really is on the screen. Also, although perhaps necessary, this first half of the film drags on somewhat. After all, the audience is ultimately waiting for Bruce to don the cape and utility belt. Finally he returns to Gotham to use his new skills to fight evil, specifically mob boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) and psychiatrist Dr. Jonathon Crane (Cillian Murphy). Gotham is suitably dark and gloomy, and we can see just why it needs saving so badly. Even so, we've still got some time to wait as Bruce stocks up his Batcave with gadgets provided by Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), a brilliant scientist working at Wayne Enterprises who also gives Bruce the Batmobile. This deserves a special mention: instead of the usual sports car with guns, this Batmobile is an inelegant black tank that is, in a word, awesome. ...read more.


Fans of the Burton films will complain about the villains of this piece: they're just not the same as Jack Nicholson's Joker! Well yes, but then Jack Nicholson would be hopelessly out of place here. The villains here are more understated, not upstaging the Batman himself. Tom Wilkinson does fine as mob boss Falcone, although his comedy Brooklyn accent is somewhat distracting. Crane is nicely creepy, and the hallucinogenic sequences where he gases his victims and becomes 'Scarecrow' genuinely frightening. The only real wrong note is Katie Holmes as love interest/conscience Rachel Dawes. A tacked-on feeling role, Holmes does not have the charisma or range to make it interesting. Maggie Gyllenhaal is signed up in her place for the sequel; let's hope she makes a better job of it. All in all, this is a film that stands out amongst the recent glut of superhero blockbusters. With a run-down, seedy Gotham and an angsty Batman to match it, this is the film that finally gets to the heart of the Dark Knight. ...read more.

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