I saw it this weekend, and Batman Begins is better than or equal to Burton’s excellent Batman. This is Batman and Bruce Wayne as they always should’ve been done. The depth of one of the most enduring comic characters comes out brilliantly in this rich, powerful, thematic film.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the people involved in determining Batman Begins direction both plot-wise and visually. Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer did a spectacular job with this film.
Most people know the story behind Batman’s origin, so telling this tale was an uphill battle from the start, even leaving out the terrible Batman Forever and the insultingly horrible Batman & Robin that immediately preceded it. Begins overcomes these potential threats by telling the story as a series of concurrently developing narratives, some new, some familiar, which are handled very well. The opening scenes of the film had me worried that we’d be served another vacuous, linear, ham-handed treatment, but those fears were completely dispelled by the mid-point.
And, most importantly, Bale makes a great Batman. They character is so much more brutal and dark. Wayne uses his potentially laughable masked crusader-ism with menacing, lightning-fast ferocity, giving the entire idea a much greater degree of believability. Also, it kicks ass. Bale’s deep snarl as Batman, and his tortured anger and focus as Bruce Wayne work very well together to give a full picture of the character’s depth.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say these few things. Every actor does a spot-on job with their character, and Nolan and Goyer had a lot more guts than I thought they would. This is not a bloodless, nice-guy Batman film. The threats are visceral, and tap directly into the well-developed theme of fear, which is handled expertly. The best part is that Nolan and the production designers never lose sight of the comic origins of the film, but they never fall into trite or silly traps.
The film develops it heros, its antagonists, and its secondary characters with unexpected subtlety and depth. The villains in particular are an excellent assortment of types, which keeps the film consistently fresh and always moving. None of them are tossed to us with a careless, dull thud, as they were in some of the earlier Batman films. They emerge each in their own manner, revealing themselves from behind masks and subterfuges, making them all the more dangerous.
Batman Begins is great. Go see it as soon as you can.