Normally superhero origin stories aren’t reserved for the 5th movie in a franchise, but with Batman Begins one of the world’s most popular comic book characters finally gets his. It has been a long journey for Bruce Wayne from the colorful adventures in the sixties to the dark and gothic versions by Tim Burton only to be raped by the gay interpretation of Joel Schumacher giving Batman nipples on his suit and lots of ass and crotch shots in a neon-lit world. Director Christopher Nolan takes the character back to his humble beginnings and has become more of a character study with the theme of “fear” rather than the summer blockbusters the previous movies were.
Despite being set in Gotham City, this Gotham is more in touch with reality than every other Gotham City put on screen. No more neon lights or old German architecture but the real city of Chicago standing in for Gotham. The realism displayed here is probably the closest any movie about a guy dressing up a a bat will probably become. The Batcave is an actual cave and Batman’s suit, weapons and vehicle are all military-grade prototypes. The Batmobile is probably one of the biggest surprises as it resembles a tank more than a real car. The sleek design is nowhere to be found, it’s more a Hummer on steroids.
One of the more bold moves is that Batman himself doesn’t appear until the second half of the movie. The first half consists of an origin story which centers around the man behind the mask, Bruce Wayne, and his fears, youth and motivation to become a masked vigilante. We see how he eventually constructs the Batcave and get an answer to questions like how he could be a vigilante at night and a business man at day.
One of the more satisfying aspects of the movie is how the two different worlds are being tied together rather seamless. In the first of half several plot-lines are being set out which come together at the end of the second half. Considering the first half is set in an untitled Asian country where as the second takes place in Gotham it is pretty remarkable how they did it. It makes the movie feel like a whole rather that two small movies of an hour, something a lot of origin movies have.
Somehow the writers pulled it off to give the story multiple villains as well, though not all of them are really developed. Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul have no real depth, though Scarecrow turns out to be a surprising entertaining villain, partially due to the creepy performance Cillian Murphy gives. Which brings me to another strong aspect of the movie: the casting. This movie has a surprisingly large ensemble cast with big names: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe and Morgan Freeman to name a few. Other than Katie Holmes who in my opinion looked too young and hasn’t enough weight her role requires, they all put in solid performances. Especially Freeman and Caine seem to be enjoying their part in what is probably one of the best batman movies to ever grace the screen.
Full on story with rich developed characters and a sense of realism not ever before seen in a Batman movie makes this the movie fans and non-fans have been waiting for. Christopher Nolan has resurrected Batman from its neon-lit grave with an edge and made batman once more one of the top players in the superhero game.
Batman Begins? Batman redeems would have been a more fitting title.