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Batman Begins (2005)


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Awesome, guys. Definitely give some feedback ASAP. biggrin.gif

SDG, are you going to write reviews of the older Batman movies as a part of your Batman Begins coverage? That would be pretty cool.

-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

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THE VANCOUVER SCREENING IS WEDNESDAY... and I have to see The Honeymooners that night.

Arrrrrgh.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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YES! YES! YES!

Woohoo woohoo woohoo woohoo woohoo woohoo!

[shadow]Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha![/shadow]

Hang onto your hats, boys and girls! Batman Begins is THE BEST first installment in a super-hero franchise. EVER. We're talking Spider-Man 2 level good here, but Spider-Man 2 was a sequel that had the origin story out of the way. No super-hero franchise has ever hit the ground running this hard before.

You know how the inaugural film of a super-hero franchise (cf. Superman, X-Men, Spider-Man) is supposed to spend the first half with setup (the hero's origin, or in the case of X-Men assembling the team and introducing the cast), and then there's never enough time for the full-scale battle royale that winds up getting deferred to the second installment, so for the third act of the original you do a smaller-scale battle that plays like warm-up for the sequel?

Yeah, well, Nolan and company didn't get that memo. Yes, they do Batman's origin in grand style in the first half of the film, and yes, they're wisely saving the Joker for the sequel, instead pitting Batman against Ras al Ghul and the Scarecrow. But this third act has an intensity that other franchises have saved for the sequel. If this is what they do for a warm-up, I can't wait to see the real deal.

It almost hits the ground running TOO hard. The depiction of Bruce's early life, the gradual development of Batman's bag of tricks, and the climactic battle are all fantastic, but a few things get lost in the shuffle. I wish they'd spent more time developing Jim Gordon's character and his relationship with Batman. And a scene involving Bruce Wayne in a bit of flamboyant celebrity goofball behavior ends with an exchange that suggests a context that the film hasn't provided.

But man, this is a great origin story with a thrilling slam-bang finale. It sets up Batman's character and psychology so, so well -- not just his vigilante drivenness or his hauntedness (and guilt, in a shrewd twist) over his parents' death, but his masked anonymity, his aversion for guns, his goal of inspiring fear.

I love the glimpses we get of Thomas Wayne, Bruce's father. It really makes you feel Bruce's sense of loss and grief. I love the film's take on the night the Waynes are murdered, from the show they're seeing, to the subtle moment of concealed apprehension on Thomas Wayne's face that comes even before the threat is manifest, to another moment just after the shootings. I love the depiction of Bruce Wayne's transition in a single day from a grieving, spoiled rich kid ready to throw his life away on a massively stupid act of revenge to a man determined to give up his life in a very different way, one that will take him down a long, hard road to an unknown destination, and will ultimately open new possibilities to him instead of closing them.

Tonally, the film is much more realistic and sophisticated, and less comic-booky, than the Spider-Man films... somewhat like the X-Men films, but with a serious infusion of the more grounded films in the 007 franchise. (Morgan Freeman's Lucius Fox is Q.) Some influences from Batman: Year One aside, the scale of the film is much bigger and more operatic than Miller's noirish take.

Visually, the film is freaking incredible. Gotham City is beyond amazing -- New York City to the third power, with huge gleaming skyscrapers and a sordid underbelly in the Narrows, a claustrophic slum on an island in the city. Love the Batcave, Wayne Manor, even the Batmobile, which from what I'd seen I didn't expect to like. Main visual weakness: overediting of the fight scenes. It's okay the first time when we haven't yet had our first good look at Batman, but after that Nolan should let us get a good look at Batman's combat technique.

Christian Bale makes a fantastic Bruce Wayne. Sometimes he's a great Batman; other times he seems a little uneven, but maybe that's just Batman's own youthful inexperience. Michael Caine is fine as Alfred, although I have no idea why he was allowed to play the part with that Cockney broadness in his voice (he's supposed to have a perfectly fine Oxonian accent, so why didn't he use it?). Neeson and Oldman are both fine; perhaps the best performance in the film is Cillian Murphy as a wonderfully smug and arrogant Dr. Crane / the Scarecrow.

And that's all I have for now....

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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It's a relief to hear such high praise. It looks like the tradition of Batman movies being mediocre/average has finally come to a close, just as I had hoped it would.

-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

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Is this really supposed to be the first in a new series? Like, are they really going to re-do the Joker etc. in future films? I always thought this was more like that upcoming Superman film, where the filmmakers kinda-sorta respect the original films as a hazy, fuzzy part of their continuity.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Yes. I've read that Nolan is planning on directing the next installment. And Christian Bale has been quoted as saying that they're hoping to bring Singer's Superman and Nolan's Batman together into that long-anticipated Supes-and-Dark Knight movie. Now THAT would be something to see.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: And Christian Bale has been quoted as saying that they're hoping to bring Singer's

: Superman and Nolan's Batman together into that long-anticipated Supes-and-Dark

: Knight movie. Now THAT would be something to see.

Especially if Singer and Nolan co-directed! smile.gif

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Actually, Peter in the newest issue of Premiere, Nolan elaborates a little bit on his plans for the next TWO Batman films. And Bale says that he wants people to forget that there ever were Batman movies before this one. I say "Bravo" to that one. Burton's films were enjoyable, but a far cry from understanding what Batman is really all about.

spoilers1.gif

Nolan says in the second film he wants to introduce The Joker, and also Harvey Dent would team with Batman and Gordon to take him down. He also says he wouldn't kill The Joker off. Then Nolan says that the third film would probably have Harvey Dent's fall to the "dark side" and the birth of Two-Face (which might be good if Tom Wilkenson's Carmine "The Roman" Falcone sticks around ala The Long Halloween).

Sounds like Nolan and Goyer know what they're doing.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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If they do base the third installment on The Long Halloween, they'd have the option of resurrecting the Catwoman character for it. I wonder if Halle Berry would still be interested. biggrin.gif

-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

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I saw an online rumor the other day that Crispin Glover wants to play the Joker when they get around to that story. Man. I cannot imagine a more perfect match.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Yes, Crispin Glover would be perfect.

user posted image

Regarding Batman vs. Superman, I just read this the other day: http://www.moviehole.net/news/5727.html

"Naturally, says Roven, "Batman vs.Superman" depends on the success of Batman and Superman's first solo missions.  ...

"Batman vs.Superman" was the movie Warner Bros. were considering doing inititally - before deciding on solo missions for both characters. Wolfgang Peterson was attached to direct at one point, with everyone from Jude Law to Colin Farrell and John Travolta (yep, Zuko in tights) in the running to play the crimefighters. ...

Ultimately, Peterson decided to go off and make "Troy" instead, and "Batman vs.Superman" was shelved.

In "Batman vs.Superman", the Caped Crusader's girlfriend dies and Superman snags the blame. This leads to a conflict between the two crimefighters, not helped by the appearance of both heroes' long-time enemies"

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WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-HOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

I agree with Steven!!

THIS is THE Batman movie!

[Comments censored until Review Day.]

More in a bit. I gotta go to a meeting.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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First Howl's Moving Castle and now Batman Begins?!? Curse you, Overstreet!

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Jeffrey,

You make my eyes salivate!

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

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GARY OLDMAN!!!

[Comments censored until Review Day.]

Another good thing: The film is meaningful.

[Comments censored until Review Day.]

This is the first time I've ever cared much about Batman.

[Comments censored until Review Day.]

This film makes me very, very suspicious about Nolan's personal beliefs.

[Comments censored until Review Day.]

One drawback:

[Comments censored until Review Day.]

Oh, another drawback:

[Comments censored until Review Day.]

The conclusion... oh, man.

[Comments censored until Review Day.]

While I have some affection for Burton's work, I now humbly concede that ...

[Comments censored until Review Day.]

In view of this, it is increasingly saddening to think about X3 going to Brett Ratner.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I cannot wait. Jeffrey, you have me excited as someone whose standard of excellence I respect. SDG, as a fellow comic book enthusiast and Batman fan, your review carries a great weight (and the fact that you are rarely "off" on these kinds of reactions in relation to my own).

I'm excited to see that Tom Wilkinson gets mention from you Jeff. Have you read Batman: The Long Halloween? His character (Carmine "The Roman" Falcone) makes me excited for what Nolan and Goyer might do with Harvey "Two Face" Dent down the road (sorry if that spoils anything for anyone - it's basic Batman knowledge).

As for Bale, I'm validated to know that I cast this film 3 years ago when I worked at Blockbuster and we used to play a "Casting Call" game with the staff. Everyone agreed (after viewing American Psycho and Equilibrium) that Bale is the perfect choice. No other actor today is more perfect.

Anyway, bring on next Wednesday!!!!

batman.gifbatman.gifbatman.gifbatman.gifbatman.gifbatman.gifbatman.gif

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Coming to the party late as always. Maybe we should revive the critics-only forum so that we critics can discuss the film and benefit from each other's ideas without "publishing" (i.e. "making public") our thoughts?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Due to the review moratorium and a sudden attack of film critic conscience, I am going to severely abridge my initial comments on this film...

Darn, I got here too late. Looks like I'll just have to wait for your review.

Anyways, I'm totally pyched about seeing this movie next week. All the things I've heard point to this being a gritty, film noir-ish Batman movie in line with the better Batman graphic novels like Year One and The Long Halloween. Bring it on!!! batman.gifbatman.gifbatman.gif

My one and only concern is that Katie Holmes' character has the potential to come off as something of a Mary-Jane Watson knock-off. But hey, every superhero film is going to have some sort of romantic angle at play. And also, I'm pretty sure I've heard that Holmes' character is the Assistant District Attorney for Gotham City. Thats a nice touch, I think, and it should help keep things from feeling cliched. Mary-Jane never had a real job like that.

Anyways, Wednesday can't come soon enough. smile.gif

-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

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Yes, Holmes's character is assistant to the D.A.

Despite the fact that I badly want to discuss the possibility that this film sets up Ra's Al Ghul as a sort of Old-Testament-God figure and Batman as his Satanic challenger -- or, even more perversely (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with artistic perversity!), as a mix of Christ and Satan -- I'll respect the moratorium as well, especially since I'll probably be seeing the film a second time on Monday night, and this time with my wife. But maybe I can "cheat" a little bit by commenting on the music, which comes out on CD this Tuesday.

A few years ago, two CDs I used to listen to all the time -- especially while writing -- were Hans Zimmer's Gladiator score and James Newton Howard's Snow Falling on Cedars score. And lo and behold, Batman Begins has music by BOTH composers, and the blend works really well -- I made a point of staying for the entire closing credits, just to listen to the music and to see if I could tell which composer had written which themes. Sure enough, listened to on their own, apart from the action, Zimmer's surging, rhythmic action themes resemble the music he has written for Gladiator and countless other movies, while Howard's soft, yearning romantic themes resemble the music he wrote for Snow Falling on Cedars. I may have to break out those CDs again. And I just may have to get this new CD, as well.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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