The movie under the microscope today is the 2005 blockbuster hit “Batman Begins.” Christian Bale for the first time plays the lead role of Batman/Bruce Wayne, in a story that attempts to tell the origin story of the Caped Crusader. The lead actress in this film is a two time award winner Katie Holmes in the role of Rachel Dawes. This movie as you probably guessed takes place in present day Gotham City. This film takes a step away from its cartoony predecessors and presents itself as a tense action thriller.
The film starts off with Bruce Wayne waking up in a prison cell. We learn soon after that he can hold his own in a fight. He then makes his way up a mountain into a very large monastery of sorts. It is here where he is confronted by a man named Henri Ducard played by the very talented actor Liam Neeson. Liam Neeson then teaches Bruce to confront his guilt and anger as well as train him. We see in various flashbacks that Bruce was semi-responsible for his parents’ death. We see in another flashback that he goes on the run and tries to find a purpose for himself which has led him to this monastery. He shares with Alfred, played by Michael Caine, that he wants to fight the crime that is so prominent in Gotham and become the Dark Knight. After Bruce suits up into his Batman suit he’s quickly searching for answers on how to bring down the king of the crime world in Gotham, Carmine Falcone. This is about when the Scarecrow enters the scene as the main villain for most of the movie. He is a deranged psychiatrist who uses some sort of toxin that makes its users see their darkest fears. We later come to realize that this toxin is being combined with a device that vaporizes water and is to be used on Gotham’s water supply. The rest plays out in fast-paced chases across city rooftops and frantic fights.
The franticness of these fights is probably the biggest complaint I have for this movie. I found the action scenes, disregarding the car chase scenes, were all a bit confusing for my tastes. The way these scenes were filmed was in close up shots. Not to mention the editing during these segments was fast and sporadic. I had a lot of trouble keeping up. I think for an action movie to work you need gripping action scenes. I know that’s a stretch, but just work with me here. Luckily the rest of the elements of this film work well enough that they overshadow my annoyance with the action scenes.
As for the acting in this movie, it’s all superb. Christian Bale does an excellent job as the Dark Knight, bringing a more dramatic and dark Batman than the “tongue in cheek” ones of previous entries. Michael Caine plays a very kind and human Alfred. Christian Bale was wonderfully casted in this film, as well as Morgan Freeman as Lucius Foxx. Some of my favorite scenes were that between Bruce Wayne and Alfred, as Alfred plays a father figure to the parent-less Bruce Wayne. He is always there to give comfort and words of advice.
My reaction was that of a bit of disappointment when I saw this movie. Besides the jittery action scenes which I already discussed, I felt as I was watching this, nostalgic for the interesting villains and cinematography of the Tim Burton days. The main thing that this movie lacks when compared to the Tim Burton films is atmosphere. I haven’t been able to view this movie as a serious crime drama and I felt a little empty from this movie. I feel that this movie is overrated to a certain degree. I can understand where the praise comes from. People had just come off from the last Batman film titled “Batman and Robin” which was a cheesy and goofy mess of a film. Naturally they wanted a follow-up that was significantly more serious than the previous film, which is exactly what they got, a direct and brooding film. Now that’s not to say this is not an enjoyable movie. I thoroughly enjoyed the acting and the cinematography. What I recommend viewers do is go into this expecting a very well played, action/drama and not expecting the over the top craziness of the Tim Burton films. If you do this I think you will enjoy this movie like many others have. In the end this is a finely acted and well made movie, just not the Batman movie I wanted.