Sunday, July 8, 2012

Batman Begins (2005) DVD

Rating: 4 out of 5 snarky British butlers

Plot Synopsis:  Bruce Wayne done lost his parents.  He’s handling it well.

The Good:

-Strong opening with kid Bruce finding the cave which leads to a grown up Bruce waking up in a prison, most likely towards the middle of his training to be Batman.  A hint of origin while putting us right into the action.

-And what action it is, immediately Bruce gets into a fight with some fellow inmates that turns into a brutal, muddy brawl.

-“Why?” “For protection!” “I don’t need protection!” “For them!”
-Liam fucking Neeson, first 2 seconds he’s on film and he’s already awesome.

-The music is great, noticeable but it enhances the action and tension.

-The origin is handled so beautifully.  This is the perfect way to do the origin.  Here we have two origins being told simultaneously, the seeds that were planted in making Bruce WANT to be the Batman and then him BECOMING the Batman.  While this is all going on we establish the world, Gotham, the players in this world, who Bruce’s parents are, everything we need to know for what’s about to happen.  There isn’t a single wasted second in the opening, everything is there to build to a payoff later in the movie.

-Michael Caine, awesome in everything he does.

-Suddenly: NINJAS!

-The fight with Ducart on the ice is awesome, especially how it ends.

-You have some truly touching moments with Bruce and his dad that make you really feel for what Bruce is going through.

-Bruce goes through a pretty realistic emotional arc, sad to aimlessly angry to determined.

-Rachel is a great counter to Bruce, teaching him to look past himself and at the greater problem.

-Carmine Falcone is awesome and well played by Tom Wilkinson.

-The whole philosophy spoken during his time with Ducart is so interesting, it’s an interesting take on crime and fear and what it is to become powerful.

-Ducart is an excellent foil, so close to what Bruce could become if he had just leaned one way over the other.

-How Bruce tricks Ducart during ninja gauntlet.

-I love the realistic take on Ra’s Al Ghul’s immortality.

-The interplay between Bruce and Alfred, much more friendly than any of the other incarnations of Bruce and Alfred.

-Hey it’s Zsaz!  A brief but good cameo.

-Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow.

-Rutger Hauer.

-Morgan Freeman, I mean it’s Morgan Freeman.  His voice alone melted my heart.

-The interplay between Bruce and Lucious Fox.

-All the different characters from the Batman mythos they manage to include.

-Bruce and Alfred creating Batman, the cave, the costume, the cowl.  They explain how they are able to create the costume without raising suspicion as well as why they would have a ton of backups just in case.

-Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, THIS is how Gordon should be portrayed not how they did it for the last series of movies.

-“Who was that?” “Just some nut.”

-The Tumbler, an interesting take on the Batmobile.

-“I’m Batman.” nice call back to the original.  This version is way more menacing than Keaton’s version.  Keaton’s version was just very matter of fact. “Hey, I’m Batman.  Duh.”

-Batman getting casually tasered.

-The Bat-Voice, it’s better than him just sounding like Bruce and it makes sense why no one would then recognize his voice as Bruce Wayne.  That being said...

-“And what do men like me do anyways?” “Drive sports cars, date movie stars, buy things that aren’t for sale.” then he goes and does exactly that like some kind of normality checklist that he’s following.

-Scarecrow revealed.  That dudes fucking crazy and Cillian Murphy is truly intimidating.

-Gordon interacting with Batman, he has a cautiously supportive attitude towards this dude in a rubber suit.

-Batman interrogating the corrupt cop.  The corrupt cop is such an asshole too.

-Batman gives his periscope to some kid.

-Batman getting taken down by Scarecrow.

-Alfred confronting Bruce about his recklessness and his double life.

-“The apple has fallen very far from the tree Mr. Wayne.”  SHUT THE FUCK UP FREDRICKS!  GOD DAMMIT... I SWEAR TO GOD... GOD DAMMIT... FREDRICKS... I... I HATE YOU FREDRICKS!

-The Narrows looks like a total hellish slum surrounded by the more idyllic Gotham city.

-They actually set up why Alfred would have a golf club to conk the bad guys when they showed a golf bag in the back of the car he used to take Rachel home.  It could have just been a magically appearing golf club but they actually bothered to set it up for a payoff.

-The difference between the monorail when Bruce used it and then what it became.  It went from this pristine, clean, new monorail to this dingy, run down, graffiti crap car.

-The fear toxin.  The images created from fear gas are actually pretty scary.

-The Joker card at the very end.  It’s great foreshadowing for what’s to come as well as introducing the argument of escalation.  Does Batman create these costumed psycho’s or would they be created anyway and Batman is really the only defense regular people have against the freaks?

-You know, Katie Holmes does a pretty good job.  Pretty much the whole supporting cast does a good job.

The Bad:

-The scene where Bruce has to find Ducart amongst a group of ninjas is cool but it’s also kind of stupid.  How do they train for that?  Do they do that for everyone?  What happens if you fail?  How often do people fail?  What’s the point in all this?  But it is cool as shit.

-I’m a little confused if Ducart was always Ra’s or if the Ra’s Bruce initially meets in the real Ra’s but when he died Ducart took over?


-He looks retarded in a Bat suit and a ski mask.

-How long do you suppose it took to hand grind all those Batarangs?  How long does it take to make more?  At what point do you dedicate the time to grind them out?  Do you accept imperfect versions or do you just do it until it’s perfect?

-That first fight scene we don’t see enough of Batman fighting, it’s just blurry jump cut to blurry jump cut.

-...The Bat-Voice sounds kind of stupid.

-I think the Batmobile chase is boring.  I don’t know why.  It has all the elements of an action scene, I can see why it would be entertaining but this is where the movie slumps for me.  Maybe it’s just too much action for too long but when I check out in this movie it’s always here in particular.

-The whole movie starts to sag for me from when Scarecrow takes down Batman until Batman confronts Ra’s Al Ghul for the last time.  So even through his birthday party.  there are moments in this period that are good but this is always where I get distracted and find something else to do.

-That’s a lot of damage to Police vehicles and also pretty risky.  Easy to hurt the good guys and a ton of property damage in the course of the car chase, it doesn’t seem like something Batman would do but it makes Alfred’s condemnation of Bruce appropriate.


-League of Shadows instead of the League of Assassins.  A small change but important to my nerd sensibility.

-Scarecrow goes out like a bitch.

-All the fight scenes suffer from fast cutting syndrome.  We never see the hits or Batman’s fighting style.  What’s the point in training your actor if you don’t showcase him?

-Thanks for the exposition sewer worker!

-“I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.” That’s not really true though, Batman has saved villains in the past.  I would argue that he would try to save Ra’s unless Ra’s actively prevented him from doing so.

The Ugly:

-“What are you doing?” “I’m looking out fo’ YOU!  Now I need a juice box and nappys.”

-The Tumbler, it’s interesting but ugly as home grown sin.

Final Thoughts:  They did with this movie what I think they tried to do with the Tim Burton Batman movies, a take a concept that is inherently ridiculous and take it very seriously.  Whereas with the Tim Burton movies you still had Tim Burtons taste for the bizarre and surreal with Batman Begins you have all of that stripped away.  You have a Batman movie firmly rooted in reality and treated with total respect and seriousness.  This takes all the things that could be bizarre or weird and gives them entirely realistic explanations.  If Bruce was gone for so long where does he get his money?  Where would he get his costume without alerting anyone to what’s going on?  Where was he trained?  How was he trained?  What did he experience in his time out in the world?  Where does he get all those wonderful toys?  All that is explained with some of the more absurd elements (I’m going out dressed like a bat) are addressed with the tongue and cheek banter between Alfred and Bruce.

            This is the most solid foundation you can give to a movie series.  This is a must see for not only Batman fans, not only DC comics fans but comic book fans and fans of superhero movies and I would say that this is a must see for people who are fans of entertainment in general but this movie does not rise to those heights.  The next movie however...

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