Batman Begins...to Protect the wealthy?
I was a little nervous to hear there was going to be yet another Batman movie. I was even more nervous to hear about its $140-$150 million dollar production budget. Truthfully, we all should have been more than a little nervous. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan of Memento fame and he is British.
Just in case you are unaware a new federal law has just been passed declaring that at least 60% of all major Hollywood releases must be directed by individuals with British accents. Now, I am not exactly sure how they will weed out the fakers, but there must be some sort of test.
That aside, the reimagining of Batman works. We are taken through the origins of Batman, yet once again, we see his family murdered, and see all the steps towards his emergence as Batman. More than likely you already know the story, however, Nolan and David S. Goyer who co-wrote the screenplay must be given credit for diving more deeply into the story of Batman’s origins. Hardcore fans will likely be thrilled by this exploration of Batman’s early years largely overlooked in movies until now.
The all-star cast of seasoned actors do a great job adding to the films feeling of grandeur. Micheal Cain as Alfred, Liam Neeson as Ra's al Ghul, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon all add strong performance that add to Christian Bale adequate, but not shining portrayal, of the Dark Knight and Bruce Wayne. Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, serves as the obligatory female lead and love-interest but adds little else.
The special effects and fight sequences are interesting and keep the audience engaged. While, they lack the remarkable shock and awe of other superhero movies such as X-Men, this is not necessarily a bad thing for it helps pull the audience into a world that is more believable than most superhero based movies. We see how Bruce Wayne/Batman acquires his technology and some thought is given to how realistic it is by current technological standards. Note as I say some thought is given. Essentially foregoing CG in favor of a more traditional approach to effects and stunts further added to a sense of realism. Obviously, the remarkable acrobatics and numerous escapes from certain death require a substantial suspension of disbelief, but isn’t that always the case with superhero movies or in fact, increasingly, most movies?
What I could really have done without is the “how great rich people are,” message that is at the heart of this film in particular and at the heart of the Batman mythology in general. Some rich people are fine folks, many, of course, clearly are not. But this is a reoccurring theme not just in Batman movies but in Hollywood produced movies in general. It’s a sort of glorification of Robin Hood in reverse if you will, but off my soapbox and back to the review.
The locations are great, the movie keeps your interest and while you definitely have heard the core of this story before, Nolan and Goyer’s attempt to focus in on the early days of Batman more intensely make this a captivating and fun ride. If only more of the super wealthy were like the justice obsessed Bruce Wayne, maybe we could, say fix that hole in the ozone layer or decrease ticket prices. Perhaps, maybe even unintentionally, this is the true message of Batman Begins, and if it is, then we have something here more than summertime escapism.
Enjoyability Grade A-
Overall Grade A-