In preparation for watching and thusly reviewing “The Dark Knight”, I decided to watch 2005’s “Batman Begins” and refresh my memory on how the restarted franchise began.
The film follows Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) who is angst-ridden and traumatised after his parents were gunned down in front of him at a young age. After a few flashbacks, we join adult fake-bearded Bruce as he takes a spiritual jouney to “seek the means to fight injustice, to turn fear against those who prey on the fearful” under the instruction of a man named Ducard (Liam Neeson) and the League of Shadows. It’s nice to see a non-cocked up version of Batman’s origin for a change (Tim Burton has a lot to answer for…) Anyway, after Bruce refuses to execute a man as his final test of commitment to justice, he returns to Gotham and starts waging his one-man war against crime.
It’s taken me a while to realise this, but I don’t particularly like Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne. It’s not that he’s a bad actor or anything, he just doesn’t seem to do much with it. At least Keaton had a slightly odd edge to him, making the fantastical notion of a man dressing up like a nocturnal mammal and fighting crime that tiny bit more believable. Mind you, at least Bale’s better than Val Kilmer and George Clooney.Plus, he’s British (Welsh to be precise) so hoorah for that.
The one thing that lets “Batman Begins” down in my opinion is the lack of a great villain. Before all you Cillian Murphy/Liam Neeson fanpeople start firebombing my room, let me explain. Murphy is intense and very creepy as Dr.Crane, however all his carefully controlled malevolence goes out the window as soon as he puts the Scarecrow mask on and starts chucking poisonous gas into people’s faces. He also abandons all his talk about the mind and inexplicably starts making bad puns (“You need to lighten up”- before setting ol’ Batsy on fire) We don’t really get a conclusion to his story either, he just gets tasered in the face and rides off into the night screaming. I know he’s in “The Dark Knight”, albeit very briefly, but personally I’d have a liked a bit of closure. As for Neeson, well- he’s okay I guess, but apart from the whole “mentor gone bad” thing he doesn’t do much.
So, “Batman Begins” is a really enjoyable film. Fantastic cast, brilliant action sequences and some genuinely interesting characters. It succeeds in explaining Batman’s story correctly and is damn entertaining to boot.