Batman Begins

Reviewed By William Goss
Posted 10/25/05 14:46:53

"A Bat Out of Heaven"
5 stars (Awesome)

With 'Batman Begins,' director Christopher Nolan reboots the franchise with his origin story of the Caped Crusader. Nolan thankfully removes the neon lights and rubber nipples that tainted the last two Batman films, and by creating an alternate take on the series, manages to take the "super" out of "superhero" and reignite the franchise in a grittier and more fascinating light.

The entire cast is spot-on, from Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, to Katie Holmes as his love interest, Michael Caine as Alfred, the butler, and Gary Oldman as Lieutenant Gordon (not quite Commissioner yet). There's also Morgan Freeman as Batman's gadget guy, Liam Neeson as his mentor, Tom Wilkinson as the crime boss, Rutger Hauer as a business colleague, and Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later) as the Scarecrow. Not a single actor in the ensemble has left their screen time unearned.

Although the film takes a slow approach to set up the characters and story, not a minute is wasted. However, once the plot is put into motion and the action kicks into high gear, the film becomes a enthralling spectacle. Even if one steps back and considers how absurd the plot is (come on, it's still a comic-book movie), there is enough palpable excitement to make this a worthy summer blockbuster.

The other largest strength the story has is the recurring theme of fear: how it manipulates people and how to manipulate it. While Bruce Wayne conquers his fears, he uses fear to conquer the villains, who are out to cause panic in the streets of Gotham. The world of the film is gripping in the most realistic sense. However unlikely the gadgets and stunts are, they all have a visible logic to them that grounds the films, even when vehicles are leaping from rooftop to rooftop. It helps that most of the effects tend to be practical (or look like they are, at any rate).

'Batman Begins' is a refreshing and well-paced course in how it's not the story, but how the story is told. As far as superhero films go, it's right up there with 'X2' and 'Spider-Man 2.' This film is an excellent and thrilling start to a entirely new franchise (as the ending promises), and one of the best movies of the year so far.

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