Monday, 6 August 2007

Batman Begins

Batman Begins…

Yeah so, it’s a bit old now, but with all the hype for ‘The Dark Knight’ hitting after Comic-Con. I decided to slip this into the DVD player for a little reminder.

I forgot how brilliant this film is. I always knew it was my favourite comic book film of all time, but the ironic thing is and the main reason why, is because it doesn’t feel like a comic book film. It easily stand’s alone, if Batman had never existed in any other media (comic, cartoon, TV or movie) this film would still be just as good. Despite how good the Spider-man films are (well 1 and 2), they still very much feel like they exist in a comic world. This feels like it’s grounded much more in reality and like someone has written the script from scratch. Rather than taking key plot points from a previous story and making a film out of them.

Firstly it’s an origin story, but it feels like an integral part of the plot, not like a paint by the numbers set-up (e.g. here’s a ordinary guy, gets powers, becomes super-hero, etc). For the first half it bounces between past and present as it tells you the story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman. I thought this was a really interesting approach, rather than telling the story in chronological order.

What this effectively does is get you invested in the character of Bruce Wayne, rather than just waiting around for when he dons the cowl for a sequence with Batman. This works so well that when it gets to the hour point and Batman still hadn’t made a full appearance I didn’t care I just wanted to see how the story of Bruce Wayne progressed. I think the key problem with some comic book films is that you’re just waiting around for the super-hero alter-ego to turn up. Where as this makes you interested in the whole character.

Christian Bale essentially plays three characters to make this work. First there is the real Bruce Wayne, then the public perceived playboy Bruce Wayne and then of course Batman. The three sides all combine to make one complete whole, and someone that can be related to.

Bruce is very much the focus, where as the villains come in second place, which is how it should be. Here you have three villains – the mob boss Falcone, Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul. But instead of being a jumbled mess like other multi-villain encounters, these all fit into the story and allow the plot to move forward. They are the perfect choice for a film that’s central theme is fear and understanding revenge.

I think that just shows what an incredible job writer David Goyer did, he tells an origin story, includes three villains and tells an overall story involving the redemption of Gotham City and it doesn’t feel over-crowded in the slightest.

Then added to a great script, you have an even better cast – Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman is perfect, Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon (well Lieutenant in this one), Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow and Liam Neeson as Ra’s Al Ghul. Could you ask for a better cast? And they all play their roles spot on!

Batman’s equipment and the stages he goes through to make the suit. It’s just all built around reality, and make’s sense. Like the suit it’s self being made from a prototype army suit, or the utility belt and the cape. It’s all there for a reason, instead of just being put in for the sake of it because that’s what he looks like in the comic. For example, Bruce jumps from a building early on and nearly falls to his death, he realises he needs some sort of equipment to help him, so he adds the cape to act as a glider.

The addition of the new Batmobile (the Tumbler), I want me one of those! It kick’s ass, as it roars across the city and smashes through debris and over cars, this is the ultimate boy toy. Half tank, half speedster this has the power to make anyone get out of the way and in a hurry. The car chase this is in is mental, flying across rooftops and through walls. It sounds corny on paper, but on screen it just works.

The thing I love about this film is how it builds, from start to finish it gets bigger, grander, and more intense. You start of with young Bruce Wayne, loosing his parents and wanting revenge and by the end you have Batman swinging through the city racing to save Gotham.

The only minor nit-pick I have with the film is the way the fight sequences are edited. The quick cutting makes it hard to really understand what’s going on, it works in the sense to show how fast Batman is moving and confusing his enemy’s, but at the same time it can be confusing to the viewer as well. But as I say this is very minor.

So this is easily the greatest comic based film of all time, and my fingers are firmly crossed that The Dark Knight lives up to it or hopefully even surpasses it.


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