Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Movie Time-Machine: Batman Begins (2005)

We are celebrating what is shaping up to be 'Batman Week' here at 'Coco Hits NYC'. After watching some fantastic Batman: The Animated Series and writing about it, I couldn't resist taking another look at the two previous Nolan Batman movies before finally watching 'The Dark Knight Rises' this friday. 

Watching 'Batman Begins' was in some way more interesting to me than re-watching 'The Dark Knight', because I hadn't revisited it since I first saw it in theaters back in 2005. Back then I was thirteen years old, which is old enough to have thought the movie was way cooler than any other Batman movie I had seen (at least live-action movies) and deciding it was a good film. I always regarded 'Batman Begins' as a good film, but I never felt the desire to watch it again. Now, almost seven years later, I must say I had forgotten a lot about the plot and actually found the movie to be better than I remembered. 

Obviously, after the disaster that were Joel Schumacher's Batman movies back in the late nineties, Christopher Nolan had nowhere to go but up. But he really stepped up the game and gave us a hell of a reboot. A film that is as gritty and dark as it is entertaining. I think it's interesting to compare it to a recent reboot we've talked about in this blog... 

Both films tell the origin of the protagonist super-hero and both plant a focus on the father of the character, which hadn't been a part of the older movies. The main difference between 'Batman Begins' and 'The Amazing Spider-Man' is that 'Batman Begins' understands that the best way to establish a franchise isn't to set up stuff that will pay off in the sequel, but crafting an interesting movie with a beginning, a middle and an end. You can see the difference by how 'Batman Begins' will pay off every single thing it sets up. It actually gets a little kind of ridiculous. I mean, even the fact that we saw Bruce Wayne do push-ups pays off later in the film! 

If there is a problem with the film, it has to be the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes). There doesn't seem to be much to the character besides the fact that there had to be at least one woman in the cast. And Bruce's reveal of his secret identity to her later in the film doesn't really have kind of major impact in the story. 

The lack of emotion in that relationship, however, is payed up by the relationship between Alfred (Michael Caine) and Wayne. In a scene late in the movie, Wayne Manor is on fire and everything seems lost to Bruce when Alfred reminds him of his father's words: "Why do fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up". That scene really packed the emotional punch and made the whole movie work for me. 

'Batman Begins' is about overcoming our fears and the hard times. It is about Bruce Wayne finally overcoming the death of his parents in his noble crusade. About Bruce Wayne picking himself up from the worst moment in his life. And judging by the trailers (where I believe the quote above is uttered) it seems like 'The Dark Knight Rises' will bring this theme back to the foreground.

Also: How amazing is that final scene when Comissioner Gordon shows Batman the Joker's card. An incredibly effective way of setting up a sequel without compromising the film and one of the most awesome and deserved moments in film. 

And is it just me or does Tom Wilkinson have the weirdest accent ever as Gotham crime-boss Carmine Falcone?

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