Reviews: Batman Begins
It seems that since the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises many people have come out to admit they believed Batman Begins was superior to both the third film and the second (more commercially successful) The Dark Knight. Many people would contend that they have "always" felt this way, but it's not my place to disagree with the duration of their own opinions. Regardless, it's interesting to see that there hasn't been a review of this film yet. I personally think it's hypocritical to dislike Ang Lee's Hulk while praising this film as they both focus on the psychology of the lead characters. It's difficult to me to say what Batman Begins did better (especially saying I enjoyed both films). If I had to guess then perhaps it's that focus on realism that makes BB more appealing (Batman seems like he could actually exist). Batman is a character you can take seriously and realistically, the only character who can come close to Batman in this regard was Ironman. I'd say Ra's Al Ghul was a good choice for a starter villain, some one close to Batman's own origin who could compete with him physically. Scare Crow was also portrayed effectively, his fear gas resembled what we've seen on the cartoons and comics. Despite Dr. Crane's "lack" of realism relative to Ra's, Joker, or Bane he is fairly ineffective as an opponent. I liked Katie Holmes better as Rachel Dawes, get that out of the way. Overall I'd say this movie was good as an origin movie but beyond that it needs the sequels to be fully appreciated. Alone it doesn't have the same stakes or lasting impact that TDK or even TDKR had. Batman Begins is really just about Batman, which isn't a bad thing so much as it narrows the viewing audience of the film.
How to do an origin story
Batman Begins is even better today than it was in 2005, and that is saying something. The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises elevate it a surprising amount. The first half, where Bruce Wayne confronts his feelings about his past and trains to save Gotham from its criminals, is one of the best origin stories in a superhero movie. The second half is good, exciting, fast paced Batman action. The acting, writing, and casting are almost perfect. The weak link, of course, is Katie Holmes' Rachel Dawes. The character is preachy and annoying, and Holmes' poor performance stands out like a sore thumb among all the fantastic acting going on around her. Another problem is the way the fight scenes are shot, so close up and choppy that it is hard to see what is happening. This works much of the time, because Batman is like a mythical version of a ninja whose movements are unpredictible and unknowable. But in the climax, when Batman is taking on equals, that way of shooting is misplaced. Other than that the action is great though. At first I hated Bale's Batman voice-give me Kevin Conroy any day. But I realized that it serves it's purpose very well. It would scare criminals, and no one would ever recognize it as belonging to Bruce Wayne. So now I'm cool with it, though for some reason it was a hundred times better in the videogame version. Those are the only blemishes in Begins. The villains were perfect for the movie, Ra's (which should be pronounced Raish) as a reflection of what Bruce is trying to be and Scarecrow for the fear motif, and both are well utilized. But the focus is all on Bruce and Batman, where it should be in his origin story. A grounded, surprsingly realistic (given certain elements like the microwave emitter), all around well made movie.