June 30, 2005
Movie Review: Batman Begins
One review I saw online referred to Batman Begins as an action movie under glass. I can see where the guy was coming from. There was a lot of action, but for some reason I wasn't able to really get into it. Don't get me wrong, it was a good flick. It just seemed a little flat.
Since this movie covers the creation of Batman there's a lot more talking and a lot less bad guys running rampant across the city. The backstory was done well, and helped to explain why the Waynes were alone in the alley after having seen the show. (It also explains why Bruce/Batman feels so guilty about it all those years later.)
While he was done fairly well, I'm not quite sure Ra's Al Ghul should have been in the beginning of the story. Al Ghul's fascination with Batman was as an intellectual near-equal, and the young Batman in the movie just wasn't up to snuff yet -- he wasn't "mindful of [his] surroundings" and in complete control. Maybe in the next film, depending on how much time elapses.
The Scarecrow, on the other hand, made a good starting villian for a fledgeling Batman. Not many henchmen, and a fairly simple plot. And for a hero who hadn't quite conquered his fears yet, a "fear gas" makes a formidible-enough weapon. The conversion from the Batman cartoon series was good -- the Scarecrow was close enough to the cartoon while still being real, and the actor played a nutball rather well. (I heard he'd auditioned to play Batman. I think he was a little too pretty to be the though guy Batman has to be.)
I wasn't too sure when I saw Michael Caine as Alfred, but he did it well -- I don't think I've ever seen Alfred act like a human instead of a snobby quasi-automaton. Again, he may become more of a "typical" butler in the next film(s) but in this movie Bruce Wayne needed a father figure, not a yes-man. I like that version of Alfred.
My final praise for the actors goes to Gary Oldman and Liam Neeson. Oldman played a Jim Gordon who actually looked like a frustrated, grizzled old cop. And Neeson did a wonderful job playing his role as Bruce Wayne's instructor in the art of deception. If you listen more closely than I did, and you're familar with the Batman cartoon, you'll figure out a plot "twist" that I thought was a hole up until the end of the movie.
So all in all, good film, except for the aforementioned flatness. And I think that will be fixed in the sequels when they don't need to cut around to Bruce's past while playing out the present. Maybe go to a matinee to avoid paying nine dollars, but go see it.