Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Movie Review: "Batman Begins" (2005)

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Movie"Batman Begins"
Director: Christopher Nolan
Year: 2005
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

After the death of his parents, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) becomes obsessed with revenge. However, when his parents' killer is gunned down by a local organized crime family, Bruce switches his focuses to showing criminals that not everyone in Gotham is afraid of them. Bruce then goes into to hiding, traveling the world to understand the minds of criminals and trains with the League of Shadows and Ra's al Ghul. Bruce then returns to Gotham to instill fear in the criminals of the city by creating a alter ego that will be symbol of justice: Batman. 

Nearly a decade after the horrendous spectacle that was "Batman & Robin," Christopher Nolan was given the unthinkably difficult task of cleansing America's pallets of the disgusting taste left behind by Joel Schumacher. What Nolan offered up was a return to the darker tone best suited for a character like Batman, as well as the first full origin story of the character. Sure, Tim Burton touched on Batman's origin by showing his parents murder and subsequent motivation for becoming the Dark Knight, but Burton never went into what training Batman had and how he obtained all of his equipment. Nolan took the expert care needed to get the writing, directing, and storytelling down pat, and we couldn't be more thrilled about his final product.

This time around, Christian Bale dawns the cape and cowl as Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne. Bale does an excellent job capturing the rich guy swagger and arrogance of Bruce Wayne, and the brooding, dark, moody vigilante stylings of Batman. Bale underwent a massive physical transition from his previous role in the "The Machinist," stacking on tons of muscle mass in a effort to deliver a believable superhero, and boy, does he make the role his own. From the beginning, we learn how Bruce Wayne got involved with many criminal elements, mostly stealing from himself and his own companies in order to keep himself in a moral gray area while helping himself understand their mentality. Bale is believable every step of the way in the most intense way possible. We also find out that he trained ninjutsu with the League of Shadows under Ra's al Ghul, played by ***10 year old spoiler alert*** Liam Neeson. Nesson is simply brilliant here. Bale's physical shape helped him a lot during these scenes as we watch him become a master of fighting.

There are a couple of villains in this film, including the organized crime boss named Carmine Falcone, played by the impressive Tom Wilkinson, The Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane, played by the cynical and frightening Cillian Murphy, as well as the League of Shadows and Ra's Al Ghul himself, who actually has the same end goal as Batman, but with a vastly different approach to reaching that goal. As Batman prefers to root out the bad elements and retain the good, the League of Shadows prefers the 'destroy it all and start from scratch' method. This is where "Batman Begins" shines. In this dichotomy, we are allowed to see how both sides of the spectrum get things done and accomplish their goals, for better and for worse, and how crime sometimes pays in the city of Gotham. Also starring here are the incredible Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Katie Holmes, who all add a wonderful presence to a tightly written, well directed film. In the end, this film serves as the engaging, gritty, and exciting first approach to the Christopher Nolan's Batman universe and the characters we love so much. Without him, this franchise might still not be resurrected today, so we really have to thank him for not only washing the stink off of Batman and his nipple-clad Batsuit a la Joel Schumacher, but for his excellent attention to detail. We enjoy "Batman Begins" a little more each time we watch it. 

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "Darby O'Gill and the Little People"

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