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Review: Batman Begins

July 20, 2012

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia

With the third and final installment of this saga due to be released today, who can forget the first movie? Jam-packed with sexy actors, cheeky banter and explosive action, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins re-paints this classic anti-hero comic by tackling the character’s childhood fears. Opening the film with an 8-year-old Bruce Wayne falling down a well welcomes the audience to the birth of an iconic symbol. “Why do we fall down? So we can learn to pick ourselves up,” is a recurring theme in the film that follows this tortured hero along the path to becoming a better person. More than just another comic book movie, Batman Begins will touch your heart and bring a shining hero down to earth.

Theatricality and deception are powerful weapons, and that’s exactly what you get for a whole 140 minutes. Whether you want to see a destructive tank annihilate a city or a thrilling ninja fight, nothing beats a mysterious bat creature jumping across rooftops to quench your thirst for action. There’s also fast cars, stick-ups, police chases, house fires and even some zombie crawls. There isn’t a second that goes by where there isn’t some type of expensive stimulation kicking you in the face (and the Christian Bale eye candy certainly helps too).

As if Batman doesn’t already freak out grown-up gangsters in dark alleyways, The Scarecrow is played by one of the scariest guys on film. Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cilian Murphy) creates a panic-inducing drug that causes hysteria among anyone who breathes in the substance. While we’re already doing a little psycho-analysis on Batman’s passion for justice, the villains are playing mind games just as well. Now that’s a refreshing way for criminals to avoid jail time. As with any psychological thriller, the visual impressions stay with you way after the movie is over. I don’t only have nightmares of the ragged scarecrow bag with the maggots crawling around (although that still gets me quite squeamish). Its Cillian Murphy’s crooked smile that gives me goose-bumps.

The only downside to Batman Begins is the somewhat flat romance between Bruce Wayne and the girl-next-door Rachel (Katie Holmes). Sure, we get to see some history between them while growing up as children, but very little occurs amid the two as adults. Rachel creates trouble for herself and becomes a great liability for Batman, having to get Alfred and the good cop to help him out while he tends to her. I guess this is the moment we see a more human side to him, but he acts more like a concerned father than a lover. A kiss doesn’t even happen until the end of the film and even that is weak sauce. The only lingering quote you can remember from this ordeal is, “It’s not who you are underneath but what you do that defines you.” And unfortunately Katie Holmes didn’t really do much to define Bruce’s romantic side.

I refuse to believe this is a film targeted at adolescent comic book geeks when it is so full of sophisticated gents like Michael Caine, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman. They basically play the three wise men that shadow Bruce’s transition from a man without purpose, to Batman, king of justice. And we can’t resist the man behind the mask now that we’ve peeked our way through his entire upbringing and learned about his hopes and fears. Forget George Clooney, this film reinstates a new Batman in the form of Christian Bale. Didn’t you get the memo?

Amanda Chen