I've never done a movie review before on this blog, but after seeing Batman Begins this weekend, I feel somewhat obligated. Because this is the best movie I have seen in 15 years, ranking right next to Spirited Away and City of God in my top ten all time.
As many of you may know, the history of Batman on the silver screen is one that had descended in to such depths of ridiculousness that not even Michelle Pfeiffer in a catsuit could save it. Yes, Joel Schumacher, I'm looking at you.
After watching Batman Begins you will forget that anyone ever made a Batman movie within the first ten minutes. You'll sit in awe in the beginning as the plot is laid out with such precision and cohesiveness that you will wonder if the previous Batman directors actually ever read the various Batman comic books at all. The director of Batman Begins-Christopher Nolan- is well known for the chronologically-backwards movie Memento, and he does an incredible job of using just the right amount of foreshadowing and flashbacks during the main storyline that one is never at a loss to understand where the story is, or why anything is taking place. This movie contained absolutely zero holes at any time. It doesn't treat the audience with condescension either, as it allows you to settle in to the character of Bruce Wayne- the orphaned billionaire vigilante wannabe in the beginning, to his transformation into the embodiment of pure unadulterated justice throughout the film without ever beating you over the head about it. Batman is a story of one mans fear of himself, and his guilt from believing he caused his parents deaths. It doesn't need to be more than this, and Nolan allows the story to unfold evenly without pretentiousness.
The dialog was well done in the sense that this movie did not need Shakespearean sonnets to get the points across. It used just the right amount of comic relief (provided the best by both Michael Caine as Alfred and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox) to keep things from getting overly dramatic, yet never strayed from the dark nature of the story.
Christian Bale in the lead role as Bruce Wayne was phenomenal. He was able to convey the internal struggle in Waynes mind in such a way that you get the feeling that he is about one inch away from snapping off the hinges at the various villains in the film the entire time. When he interrogates a crooked cop who has the information he needs by dangling said cop from fifteen stories off the ground by his ankle and screaming at him for the information, you get the full taste of Bales range. This is one particular aspect of the previous Batman movies that never measured up. Batman is a hero dangerously fueled by his anger towards criminality, and Nolan lets Bale just ooze with rage when he is in the midst of battle, yet just keeps him from turning over to the point where he no better than the criminals he fights against.
The cinematography was amazing as well- from the glaciers of a Nepalese frozen landscape to the urban cold and rainy darkness of Gotham, you are treated to great panoramic views to set up different scenes. The bat-gadgets are used sparingly, and at no point do you feel the urge to suspend disbelief while special effects are used. I have read people criticizing the fight scenes as too hurried and blurry, but one of the most important aspects of Batman is his usage of stealth and darkness to instill fear in his enemies. Watching a Jackie Chan style kungfu fight would not convey the same sense of fear that develops in his enemies throughout the film. By the end of the movie as Batmans reputation for annihilating his enemies spreads amongst the criminal underworld, you can see the fear in the faces of those criminals when Batman lets his presence known.
I applaud Nolan, Bale, and the rest of the cast and crew for making such a tremendous homage to the story of the Dark Knight. May there be many more.
Bruce Wayne: They told me there was nothing out there, nothing to fear. But the night my parents were murdered I caught a glimpse of something. I've looked for it ever since. I went around the world, searched in all the shadows. And there is something out there in the darkness, something terrifying, something that will not stop until it gets revenge.
Bruce Wayne: Me.