By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
This Friday marks the end of an era, as Christopher Nolan brings an end to his epic Batman trilogy. For better or worse, the film that started it all, Batman Begins, gave rise to an entire trend in handling familiar properties- the gritty reboot. In light of that, and because millions will be revisiting the entire series in preparation for this weekend, I figured I’d finally give this one a rewatch and see how it holds up. Statistically, if you are unfamiliar with this series, then you live deep in the wilds ofNew Guinea. The series of events that brought you to the internet, on this site, reading this review in English, must be an epic tale worthy of its own film. Still, just for you, here’s a synopsis:
Batman Begins tells the story of billionaire Bruce Wayne, who tragically loses both of his parents in a mugging and grew up directionless until he realizes his true calling is fighting crime. In this iteration, he globe trots in search of himself until he happens across an age-old vigilante organization that at first appears to have the purpose he seeks, until he realizes they go too far. After extricating himself from them, he returns to a crime-torn, dilapidated Gotham City, creates the Batman in order to clean it up, then finds he has more powerful foes than he’d ever realized. Okay, now that we’ve caught you up on that, let’s look into getting you some clothes.
Penis horns are only appropriate for 30-40% of modern social interactions
Origin stories are tough, especially for characters that everybody’s already familiar with. Christopher Nolan knew that this film would have to be the foundation of his trilogy, and the first raise of the glass must go to how well he establishes it. He puts his personal stamp on the familiar story right from the out of nowhere Tibetan jail-set beginning, while still retaining the elements of the story that make Batman, well, Batman.
A list that, surprisingly enough, doesn’t include Batnipples
He’s aided by perfect casting. While overshadowed by Heath Ledger in the sequel, like nearly everything that year, Christian Bale reminds us why he got the job in the first place, deftly switching between tortured soul, suave billionaire playboy, and incredible badass without missing a beat. Liam Neeson and particularly freak-eyed Cillian Murphy make formidable foes, but Batman has the dulcet tones of Morgan Freeman and the mustachy mustache of Gary Oldman to back him up, and Michael Caine just IS Alfred. If I ever run across him in real life and he turns out not to be a calm, wise, and dryly funny British gentleman, I don’t know if I could handle it. I’ve had enough disappointment in my life as is.
The day Indy showed up on the “Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians” blog was the day my childhood died.
The ultimate reason to toast Batman Begins, though, is the action. Nolan and loyal cinematographer Wally Pfister create sequences with a sense of scale that is breathtaking. The aim was to create a realistic Batman, and even when the script calls for the Batmobile leaping across Gotham rooftops or an out of control elevated train taking out several city blocks Nolan and Pfister set out to make that shit look REAL. That they succeed is their ultimate accomplishment.
As well as Nolan and screenwriter David S. Goyer do in creating a compelling origin story for Batman, they still feel limited by the demands this creates. The Dark Knight proved how high Nolan could soar when freed from these restrictions, which makes the few less interesting elements of Batman Begins, particularly anything Katie Holmes-related, that much more glaring.
Even the darkest films should have dashes of humor, if only for contrast. Still, Batman ≠ Tony Stark, particularly when you give him lines like “You should see my other car.” Hyuk, hyuk.
Lazy quips just drive me batty.
A good, sometimes spectacular beginning to what I’m certain will remain my all-time favorite superhero series.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time there is a reference to something Batman will wear or use
Take a Drink: every time Batman walks away from a fall that would cripple a lesser man
Do a Shot: every time someone claims to be Ra’s Al Ghul