batman begins (2005)
Nolan nails the iconography, at least aesthetically, in Batman Begins. A great, if not necessarily standout super hero movie that boasts great visuals and a cast willing to take it all seriously. Bale, Caine and Freeman all treat the proceedings with care and turn in great performances. Rising above them all, however, is Cilian Murphy as the movie's stand-out villain; The Scarecrow. Murphy is embodies his role better than anyone else in the cast. His fiendish portrayal of the slightly disturbed Dr. Crane shows us a man on the edge of madness, and it's a great thing to watch. Also notable is Tom Wilkinson who, just as Murphy, really disappears into his character of Gotham's mob boss with surprising believability.
Batman Begins opens to a shot of hundreds of bats flying across the screen, the bat signal becomes slightly visible behind them and then we jump right into the movie. no opening credits, no voice over monologue, we're tossed into this world without even a lead in and it makes the opening sequence seem rushed. We watch as Bruce trains to be Batman, intercut with his childhood memories, each building more and more of his character up to the point where he finally returns to Gotham City. Here is the real fun of the movie, seeing how each piece of the mythology falls into place. we see the origin of such iconic figures as the bat cave, the batmobile, and yes, even the utility belt. Like a pot about to boil over each event rises further and further toward the moment of Batman's reveal, and when it gets there, it's worth the wait. This is the movie's best scene by far. However, afterward, the movie begins to stumble a bit. it moves at a good pace still but seems to trip up in trying to bring all the pieces together for the grand finale. The love story with Katie Holmes was never developed enough and she was not given nearly enough screen time with Bruce. Also a bad decision on Nolan's part makes one scene WAY too in your face with a series of too-close-close-ups. Other than that, it moves steadily. The end is pretty much standard action movie set-piece stuff, but it's just so damn fun that you won't care. one chase scene with the new batmobile (which I liked alot more than I thought I would) was particularly thrilling.
The biggest complaint I have with the ending is that the premise is very overdone. Every single time that I can remember the scarecrow showing up in the cartoon or in a comic his plan would ALWAYS be to put his "fear toxin" into Gotham's water supply and terrorize everyone in the city. When the movie finally reveals his master plan there was a bit of a "here we go again" feeling to it. But it turns out to not be so bad. thankfully one of the movie's great strengths is taking old tired ideas (like Batman's origin for instance) and making them seem fresh, new, and exciting. And that's exactly what it was. At two hours and twenty minutes in length the movie could have gotten old real fast, but it still leaves you wanting more. The score by Hans Zimmer is very exciting and smartly builds itself in the background as the story does. However, it's just not as memorable as Danny Elfman's orinigal Batman Theme. part of me wonders why they didn't just use it in this movie, but maybe they felt they needed to set it apart from the others, who knows. Visually the movie is breathtaking, with the vast cityscape of Gotham shown in haunting imagery. I think it's safe to say that seeing Batman swoop from rooftop to rooftop will never, ever lose it's thrill.
With Batman Begins, the Dark Knight is back, and I hope he's here to stay. hopefully this one rakes in enough at the box office to merit a sequel because as long as it keeps Nolan at the helm and Bale in the suit I'll stand in line to see it. In a hokey final scene the movie unwisely attempts to link itself as a prequel to Burton's original Batman, which I think is a mistake. They should leave that series alone and simply start from scratch, if the rest of the movies are as good as this one they will beat the crap out of the old movies. Batman Begins has achieved something they didn't already; a real Batman movie, THIS is how it should have been done all along.