Rakesh's movie talk
Batman Begins (2005)

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Directed By Christopher Nolan
Written by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (based on characters created by Bob Kane)
Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Katie Holmes and Gary Oldman


I have been following the progress of the making of this movie, ever since the rumour of it being a Batman vs Superman movie. And after Christopher Nolan and the cast was announced I wrote the following (note the original title)



Here's my preview take on Batman: The Intimidation Game .


Christian Bale is gonna be great. So would the rest of the cast, and if Liam Neeson plays the bad guy - how can they go wrong. Except that of recent years, some of the comic book villains have been rather bad. Hulk, Spider-Man and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comes to my mind. Even the Matrix movies.


It is going to be very dark and tense. With Christoper Nolan on board, I think he will move it towards the noir way. It is going to be comic-noir, as much as Burton's two movie was, but much darker. Will the audience accept it? His last two movies had been well accepted critically, but the audience?

25th February 2004


And then I saw the full trailer and I wrote the following:


Saw a full trailer. Longer trailer compared to the one two months ago. It’s getting better. And I am going to say something that will tantamount to blasphemy “It’s going to be better than Burton’s two movies!!!!!!!” I mean, I love those two movies, and Batman Returns is my favourite comic book movie alongside Superman (1978), but the way things are shaping out in the trailer, I don’t know man.


I know, trailers supposed to show the best part of the movie and ruin everything when the actual movie comes out. But in this case, the film is still in the making. That means, there should be more better parts right?


I always say that expectation is mother of all disappointments. My expectation for this movie is growing larger. If Bale does a good job (looks like he is doing it), he might be the first Batman to win award. With the gothic, cynical outlook presented, it can kick all the present day feel-good comic book movies back to where it belongs, as prime time TV series.


20th December 2004


And now, on 18th June 2005.


I saw a review in The Star newspaper and writer confessed of not knowing how to begin. Alas, the same dilemma here.


And bloody hell! I was right.


This is one heck of a magnificent movie. I believe the best I had seen this year after Million Dollars Baby. Yup. Its definitely should be an award material even if most likely the Academy is going to ignore it next year.


Venerable critic Roger Ebert wrote that this is the movie he has been waiting for (he gave four out of four stars) and he didn’t know what he is waiting for.


All the excitement about Spider-Man being the best comic book movie. Phooey! It's good. But not the best. All we can do is to thank Spidey for convincing us that good movies can be made out of comic-book adaptation.


The belief was initially created by Superman (1978) and the faith was ruined by the three Superman sequels. Then in 1989 Burton’s Batman came along and there were a sprinkling of comic book/ Superhero movies. Then, in 1997, Batman & Robin killed the hope for the future of such genre. Well, Spidey came and is going on strong. So is X-Men. There were a few stinkers like Catwoman and Daredevil (and its spin-off Electra), but with Batman Begins, we can all rejoice.


As the title suggests, this movie is mostly about the origin of the Dark Knight. It answers all the whats, whos, hows, whys, wheres, and the when. Ebert griped in all his Batman movie reviews that he does not know much about Bruce Wayne. Who is Bruce Wayne? Well, now you know why Ebert gave four out of four.


This movie is not about Batman. It is about Bruce Wayne.


And who the hell better to direct this movie than Christopher Nolan who has a firm grip on mastering characterization in his movies (Mememto and Insomnia). Everyone gets great treatment here. All those characters we took for granted, including Bruce’s dad, Alfred and Commissioner Gordon (still Sergeant and later Lieutenant in this movie), are fleshed out.


The movie does begin with a bang with Bruce in a jail in some far east country. He gets into a brawl, knocks five guys out, and is pulled away, so that the prisoners can save the other brawlers. Back in the jail and is provided get out of jail card by the mysterious Ducard (Liam Neeson).


Ducard belongs to the League of Shadows, a ultra hardcore vigilante group headed by Rha’s Al Gul (Ken Watanabe). He sees vengeance as Bruce’s motivation, trains him up and invites him to join the group – the initiation rite being beheading a murdering farmer. Bruce refuses, fights, breaks out, killing Rha’s Al Gul and burning up the place.


“To conquer fear, you must become fear itself!”


Or so said Ducard during the training. Man! It may have been Yoda or Quigon-Jinn or Ducard who said that, but truer words were never spoken. Bruce embraces that and slowly, painstakingly, he puts on what he calls a ‘symbol’. The symbol being the very thing he feared as a child – Bats! Not a good news for Ace Ventura.


Coming back, Bruce witnesses the decaying Gotham, and finds his Wayne Enterprise taken over by his ex MD, who is now a greedy corporate shark. This and more.


He meets Luscious Fox, kinda like Q, only more noble and sophisticated, and finds all he needs to build up the batsuit and the gadgets. And oh, he gets Batmobile too. OF course, it is not called that in this movie.


The movie is engaging from start to finish. There is a simple scene, little Bruce crying and hugging Alfred saying that he missed his dear departed parents. And I had a lump in my throat. Even the killings of the parents were shocking. We knew it will happen, but we will it not to, and it happens.


Maan. I seriously having trouble writing this review. But I will try.


Okay. Performances. Its flawless. Mmm…well, maybe not Katie Holmes, but then her character, though is important, does not warrant massive presence, so we can excuse her. Michael Caine’s Alfred is not just a butler, he is a father figure, a confidante, and a co-architect of the whole Batman thing. Morgan Freeman is not just Q, he is the technical brain. Both Caine and Freeman supplies much of the humour in this movie – good simple humour that we need in this otherwise dead serious movies.


And then the bad guys. Neeson is a professional and it shows here. And so is the guy who plays Scarecrow. Too bad, Watanabe’s character does not last long, but it is required by the script. Watch out for the ending, you will know who the next bad guy will be.


And Gary Oldman. It is definitely a weird feeling watching him playing a mild mannered good cop. But you know what a consummate performer Oldman is. He pulled it off beautifully. I definitely loved the camaraderie he shared with Batman – with Batman playing deep throat.


We now come to Christian Bale. But before that, apologies to Michael Keaton. Sorry man, but this young man outdid you. And I know you will agree. You were good. But you didn’t have a good script. You always complained that the movies are all about the bad guys and never Bruce Wayne or Batman. THIS is the script you were looking for. And it fell in the hands of a competent actor named Christian Bale.


I will be terribly pissed if they don’t give some kinda award to Bale. His Bruce Wayne is believably good. His Batman is not just a man behind some rubber suit and mask. It has a character of its own. Remember the phrase , “to strike fear in the heart of the criminals”. This Batman is to criminal what the Alien is to Ripley and her crew. This Batman is very, very intimidating. Check out the interrogation in the rain. Who would not be scared of this man. The snarl. The voice. I agree with Ebert. This is the Batman we have been waiting for all these years.


There have been complaints about the action scene, which are not so clear, and cut very fast. I think it suited this Batman. The way he strikes, you don’t know what hits you. You can feel what the bad guys feel. This is a ninja trained Bruce Wayne, not John Wayne.


By now, you should be hearing or reading more glowing reviews about this movie. This is a proof that comic book-related movies need not aim for only teen audience. It can get to the adult too.


The overall credit should go to the director and his co-writer. I can't think of any perfect comic-book movie that can rank alongside this. Yes, I still love Superman and Batman Returns. But I think this is the best.