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Sep 12, 2007

Batman Begins (2005)

Hmm, first Batman Begins, then Superman Returns, what next? The Flash Flashes?

But seriously after viewing this flick, only an idiot or Adam West's stalker could doubt that this is the best Batman movie ever.

Christopher Nolan, who blew me away with Memento has done something that nobody (except maybe Alan Moore) has ever done with Batman. He (and his co-scriptwriter David Goyer) took the guy in the cowl seriously. They thought it through and looked at the concept of a costumed vigilante with more than a few issues, without flinching from the darker implications.

This Batman isn't a paragon of virtue. On his path from angry orphan to warrior for justice, he does some dumb things. (Getting locked in an Asian prison so you can rumble with some hard-arsed crims isn't the kind of thing one does in a moment of mental clarity.) And the conceit that the Dark Knight got most of his training from terrorist ninjas is an interesting one, too.

The scene where Batman furiously interrogates the corrupt cop Flass (Mark Boone Jr.) while dangling him like a fat pinata over a tenement alley was shocking. Batman's not supposed to lose his cool! But in the World that Nolan and Goyer create, that terrifying anger is right for Batman. Christian Bale has the perfect intensity for the role. Michael Caine's Alfred is the strong moral core of the movie-- in spite of some attempts by the script to thrust that task onto Katie Holmes' deputy DA character. (I'll make no comments about other recent attempts to place Ms. Holmes into a role for which she's not suited.) Gary Oldman is the perfect Lieutenant Jim Gordon. He looks right and he has mixture of compassion and street smarts for the future commissioner of police. Liam Neeson as Ducard, trains Bruce Wayne in a much more interesting way than he did Ewan McGregor in that execrable fourth Star Wars movie. Morgan Freeman plays Morgan Freeman as usual and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a. Scarecrow has a gaunt, blue-eyed intensity that captures the right insanity for a great Bat-villain.

I like this film a lot. An action film that doesn't assume that I'm a dribbling moron is a balmy breeze for a movie buff like me. Seeing this one in Gold Class with a foccacia, coffee, ice-cream, popcorn and a drink delivered to my seat just made the experience as good a cinematic event as I can remember having. See this, if you haven't already. It's the real deal.

(Originally posted Saturday, July 02, 2005)

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