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Forget about the Batmans of Clooney and Kilmer. A new dark knight has arrived on the scene! With one film, writer/director Christopher Nolan succeeds in creating a truly proper prequel, a feat that a certain other filmmaker failed to do with three! Batman Begins, the fifth blockbuster to bear the Batman name, gets it right on every count, and may be just the hot ticket to shock Hollywood out of its summer doldrums.
Nolan's Batman Begins wisely ignores the overindulgences of previous Batman outings in telling its origin story of the mysterious caped crusader. For starters, all the day-glow camp silliness of the 1960's television series has been stripped away, revealing a violent, action-packed but intelligent tale of a tormented man's fight for justice, a fight which just happens to include dressing up like a giant bat. Nolan does, however, give a nod of respect to the great character details that made Tim Burton's first Batman such a fantastic treat. In this incarnation, Christian Bale initially plays Bruce Wayne as the broody, silent type, but once he embraces his nocturnal crime fighting identity, the eccentric spirit and sarcastic wit of Michael Keaton's original performance is very much in evidence.
As for the actual plot, certain aspects of Batman's origin story have been 'updated', which may annoy some comic purists, but the resulting story is nontheless spectacular. In addition to telling how Batman came to be, Batman Begins also follows his early battles against villainy in Gotham City. No loud-mouthed, gimmicky baddies here! In stark contrast, Batman's first mission is against the everyday evils that rot Gotham from within!
Can one man bring an end to corruption in the city? Not likely! Batman needs help, as well as an abundance of wealth, to tackle the job. Luckily, Bruce Wayne is heir to the Wayne Industries empire, which provides him with nearly unlimited crimefighting resources. Also aiding him in this endeavor are his faithful butler, Alfred, played by Michael Caine, and police Sergeant Gordon, played by Gary Oldman. And where, it has been asked, does Batman get those wonderful toys? He gets all those toys from Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman, who serves as caretaker for Wayne Industries most exotic experimental military prototypes! Not only are these all great supporting characters, the acting performances by each are spot on.
But what about action? Well, I was amazed at how much compelling action Batman Begins had. Don't look for Matrix-like CGI or videogame villians. We're talking real stunts, real action, and real thrills! In fact, compared to other recent superhero movies, computer visuals are used quite sparingly in Batman Begins. Unlike many directors, Nolan knows that believable drama cannot be created through rendering software alone. Bravo! And, as a result, Gotham, summer 2005, and an entire movie franchise may be saved!
If you haven't guessed by now, Batman Begins rocks! It's the Batman we've all been waiting for. So far, it's the best blockbuster of the season, and the best Batman since 1989!
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Bob Kane (characters) / David S. Goyer (story) /
Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (screenplay)
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman,
MPAA: PG-13 for intense action violence, disturbing images and some thematic elements.