Monday, June 20, 2005

ZMG's Review of Batman Begins

This is an excellent movie, folks. It is an intelligent look at the experiences and the decisions made that turned Bruce Wayne from an angry teen into the Dark Knight of Gotham City. This movie is also better than the last three Batman movies put together. True, it uses two villains... which, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons why the Batman franchise sucked so badly after Tim Burton's masterpiece in 1989, but the storyline is actually intelligent enough to make sense of why these two villains would be working together.

There were a couple of minor plot holes, however. One, there is a scene where Batman is hanging from a high-rise train by a cable attached to the train. This train is also passing through several support towers where the train tracks are surrounded on all sides (left, right, top, bottom) by steel girders and other gothic support structures. The point is, if the cable was attached to the train and the train passed through one of these support towers, the cable hanging down would have been pulled up through the tower and Batman would have been crushed between the tower and the train. The second problem was Dr. Jonathan Crane's defeat at the hands of Rachel Dawes - Katie Holmes' character for those of you who also felt she added little to the storyline as well. This woman, after getting hit by a massive dose of the panic toxin, as was evidenced by her vision of the fire-breathing horse, was able to hit Scarecrow in the face with a tazer blast when before she could barely move on her own. I can toss aside the latter problem because she may still have had some of the anti-toxin swimming around in her system, but it still bugged me a little.

Katie Holmes' character offered nothing to the storyline except the standard "one movie only" love interest who finds out Batman's secret identity but will vanish without a trace by the beginning of the next film. Alas Katie Holmes didn't offer anything more to the role than the two girls who "went swimming" did to their respective roles.

One thing I will point out that I enjoyed is that the fight scenes are pushed to the background by dressing the villains in black as well as the Batman. This creates a visual confusion when the close combat fight scenes are occurring and pushes the audience to focus more on the storyline beyond the fight sequences. I mean, after all, we already know Batman is going to win the fight, so there's little point in overdramatizing what would otherwise be referred to as a power ranger fight sequence.

Highlights of the film
  • A hell of a lot of action. Warning: The action may be too much for those who suffer motion sickness. Seriously, if you can't handle moving camera shots, stay at home.
  • A dynamite Scarecrow played by Cillian Murphy
  • Even though we know Bruce Wayne's parents die, and this movie is about the traumatic effects of that event, they do a good job of not hovering around that single boring event.
  • A kick ass batmobile that the Hummer 2 only wishes it was.
  • A fantastic first go at being Batman straight out of Alien.
  • An extensive training montage that allowed people to experience what Bruce Wayne learned while training with Ra's Al Ghul.
  • No supervillain coming up with instant schematics to the batmobile.
  • No destroying the big green blender machine and having everything return to normal.
  • No stealing supervillain demises from cartoon episodes dealing with the same villains.
  • No retarded versions of highly intelligent comic book villains.
  • No awkward supervillain team-ups regardless of how well the roles were cast.
  • No hack ex-costume designer/directors lousing up the screen with rubber butt shots.
  • No blacklight effects.
  • No whiny, little bitch sidekicks
Will there be a new series of Batman movies based on this new spin on the urban mythology? I don't know. If they do, I hope they take a clue from the Spider-Man series and keep it one villain per movie. You'd think the studios would have wanted to have made more money by spreading the villains out among several movies and potentially having a better product.

Final Grade: A
A definite improvement over the last three in the series.

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