Review: Batman Begins

Finally, they got it right. Everything made sense – the plot, the motivation, the story, the performances (mostly) and the tease at the end.

It was played straight – none of the homoerotic, nipples on the suit, my codpiece is bigger than your codpiece bullshit. It had a threat that was straight out of a comic book and a hero that was real and larger than life.

Hollywood has finally, created a Batman movie that works as more than just a “sooper-hero movie.” It’s a good movie first and then a good comic book movie next.

First, let me give you some of my feelings on the whole Batman movie franchise. They all suck.

Tim Burton is a wildly inventive writer and director. I think Edward Scissorhands is brilliant. I think the first twenty minutes of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is pure movie magic. He was a horrible choice for Batman. Burton didn’t flesh out the Batman character at all. He wanted a movie about screwed up people. Batman didn’t attract him to the picture, Bruce Wayne did. Jack Nicholson was an okay Joker, but his performance wasn’t manic enough and his prosthetic was just an update from Cesar Romero with his painted on smile over his mustache.

Batman Returns started the ridiculous trend of multiple villains in each picture. It has a plot that made absolutely no sense. At least they got the yellow oval bat symbol right. The last two are just plain trainwrecks with little redeeming qualities. I hate them. All of them. The first one is passable entertainment. The rest are crap. Hell, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is a better movie than any of the live action pieces.

So, when I say that Batman Begins finally gets it right. It means something. It is not just the best, by far, of the Batman movies. It’s just simply a good movie.

All the actors, save for the darling Katie Holmes, are cast perfectly. Christian Bale understood the character better than anyone who has ever been Batman/Bruce Wayne. He did his homework and it shows. Morgan Freeman is used nicely and Michael Caine is the great moral center of the flick reminding Master Bruce of his obligations. Gary Oldman surprised me with his down home performance as Gordon. Holmes is pretty, but was too young for the part. Her girly voice detracts from her hard-nosed Assistant DA character and wearing silk tops with no bra was as distracting as Kirstin Dunst’s, ahem, points of interest, in the first Spider-man movie. She’s not very believable and her character is terribly underwritten.

The use of Ra’s Al Ghul was an interesting choice except they didn’t use any of the more interesting elements of that character such as the Lazarus Pit or Talia. The Scarecrow, at least to me, felt more like what a real world wacko might do. I absolutely loved the effect of his fear gas. The villains plan of mixing the fear gas with the water supply was a bit hard to follow and frankly was the most unrealistic aspect of the entire movie. The switcharoo at the end was predictable, but then I know what Ra’s Al Ghul is SUPPOSED to look like and he fit the mold perfectly. No spoilers here.

When I read the script I was concerned about the jumping Batmobile, but it worked very well. In fact, the rationale for all the equipment was something that I’m glad they touched upon. For me, the two things that stood out the most was all the material with Bruce and his father and mother. It felt very real and heartfelt. I knew what was going to happen and I still got chilled with the pearls hitting the pavement. Speaking of chill, the movie at least got that right – Joe Chill killed Thomas and Martha Wayne not the Joker or the Joker before he became the Joker. I also loved the use of fear that the Batman was employing. The incorruptible symbol of fear made perfect sense and the rumors started regarding “the Bat” was executed wonderfully. Batman is supposed to be an urban legend.

Someone said they wanted the sequel to be an adaption of the graphic novel, “The Killing Joke.” I can live with that. I especially like that story as the definitive Joker origin.

Now, if they will just cast Mark Hamill as the Joker…