Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Batman Begins - Movie Review

Anniyan Batman is essentially a comic character meant for children. This movie is a PG-13. Though that doesn't say it all, it says a lot doesn't it? What these hollywood people have done is they have taken a fantasy world with a fantasy hero created for children and pyscho-analyzed it to the point where children cannot understand the movie at all. The biggest audience for the movie is lost right there itself. So it becomes a movie for fans, who liked batman when they were children. Batman was my least favorite among the big Superhero's. Well there was Plastic man, Fantastic Four, Mandrake the Magician etc.. who came lower than batman. But Batman had no real super powers and he just brooded a lot.

As the proverb goes "no matter how hard you try you canot make a lie true". No matter how hard these hollywood folks try they cannot make Batman as real and as identifiable a teenager as Spiderman was/is. It is very difficult to make it work (although the movie does the hard work required to make it work to some levels). Although I think Batman hanging upside down and talking was un-intentional ... as hanging upside-down is more a Bat quality than a Spidey attribute. But that reality-connection is the attempt here (the background theme score has a Spiderman familiarity to it too). They have tried to make Batman a character that someone (at least 1 person) in the world can identify with. Thats not going to happen is it? Batman, the concept with his bat wings itself is unreal. There is no city called Gotham city, which is at best a mix of Chicago and NewYork City. We know it. We know that even in the fantasy world Batman is slightly off-the-top. The movie takes the dangerous path of trying to explain the whacky stuff. Why try and explain stuff? is my contention. Just go with the flow.

But...but...but...having said all that. Having put all the disclaimers, I think this is the best Batman movie that has ever come out. We have seen 2 starring Michael Keaton (Batman & Batman Returns), 1 starring Val Kilmer (Batman Forever), 1 starring George Clooney ( Batman & Robin???). I thought the Val Kilmer-Batman was the best prior to this movie and this Batman beats all the other movies mainly because it has not been directed by nutcases like Tim Burton or Joel Schumacher but by a very intelligent person called Christopher Nolan. Chris Nolan has already startled the viewers with the brilliant Memento. And if Tim Burton is the only choice we have to make children see batman, then I'd rather not want children to see batman at all. This adult'ish version of Batman is far better.

This movie goes slightly back forth in time in the beginning, exploring the death of Bruce Wayne's parents. Although most of the previous movies have dealt with Bruce Wayne's parents dying in a quick brood-flashback, this one takes its time to explain all that in detail. Chris Nolan brings a style to his movie that is hard to explain. In Insomnia, his whole movie has the foggy look to it. There were no night scenes in that movie (the location being alaska) and at the same time there were no bright lights. In Memento it appeared as if the movie was shot in a hand-held camera. Here, like the movie Seven, its dark, foggy and rainy. Even the scenes in Nepal aren't overtly bright. Its more toned down. Obviously this is a Bat movie and darkness is the central theme here. But the style to the black-bat theme is certainly noticeable. There is certainly style when the Bat Mobile jumps in and out of the cave and runs atop buildings.

The movie succeeds in showing Batman as some mystical fear-inducing terror character in the eyes of the movie's goons. The good thing about explaining stuff in a Batman movie is you can see the story develop nicely and can follow what everybody is doing and why they are doing it. The journey of Bruce Wayne in a far away land trying to understand suffering is brought out well. Liam Neeson plays Ra's Al Ghul. I am sure Liam Neeson is still experiencing the after-effects of playing a Jedi. His dialogs are more jedi-like. When he was speaking, I was thinking "where is your light saber dude?". The Bat gadgets and the Bat Mobile are the closest to the real thing (if ever there is such a thing :-) ). This movie is no muck with the special effects either. The climax scene is certainly thrilling and edge-of-the-seat stuff.

There is a dignity that actors like Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson bring to characters. I like these actors. I want to watch movies in which actors like these appear. Katie Holmes (oh.. i wont mention the Tom Cruise- Scientology link... oh... there I mentioned it) came with a reputation of being the current most hot-lookin chic (everybody comes after Angelina Jolie in my world). Although there were some evidences to suggest that she might be really hot, this movie does not really have scope for her to appear in baywatch like outfits for us to get a "better" view. We'll leave the Katie Holmes argument for some other movie. Bale's acting looks pale in comparison to the stalwarts around him. But he does well. I still can't get out of the "Wham" "Pow" "Sock" characters that Adam West and Burt Ward played in the Batman T.V series. I loved them even 10 years before. As funny as they are now, they were thrilling to me when I was a kid. That is the key here. As a kid you don't care about psycho-analysis. You just want some good clean action. Even if it is as crude as "Wham! Pow! Sock!" you are okay with it. As an adult you tend to justify and explain things to make them sound real and end up making everything more complicated than necessary. This movie, while it makes this mistake, is certainly suited for adult fans of Batman. There should be some sort of balance that should be struck while trying to appeal to kids of two different generations. It should appeal to kids but at the same time should not be kiddish like the earlier Tim Burton movies. Although this movie errs on the side of sanity... but Oh! Ya this is the best Bat movie ever. This is the treatment that maybe best suited for a Batman movie and future Batman movies.


Anonymous said...

We saw Batman Begins in AMC IMax (which has been introduced recently). It was sheer delight to watch the movie on the giant screen. The visuals were breathtaking. It was a welcome relief after having gone through War of the Worlds the night before.

Anonymous said...

I dunno why u want batman begins to be kiddish and the "biff","bam","pow" style of the adam west series!!!.

nolan has done an awesome job of creating a really believable atmosphere and story.
batman was never really a comic that i ever read(found it too boring)...
But this movie ranks alongside spiderman2 as one of the best superhero movies ever...loved it!!!

p.s. i loved tim burton's batman...was so different yet brilliant!!!
i dunno what u have aginst tim burton....if u haven't seen big fish yet...go watch it...tim burton is just too cool!!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Bharath,

Eagerly expecting ur review on Ilayaraja's Thiruvasagam.


Babs said...

Very well said daa, I like your reviews and comparisons. Good point about whether today kids wud like it or NOT. I personally thot the movie was too good, very well made, redefined the batman series, for once Warner Bros got something right. This is more close to the comic as he is not really super hero but techno freak Ninja, a hope to kids that u cud become one someday. Well some might find it appealing some dont. I wud give 4/5 for Batman Begins

Babs said...

I like Tim Burton too i call him "scary tale" movie maker, he likes to scare kids with his own fairy tale world. Have you seen Edward Scissor hands, he and Johnny Depp (I like him too) are good team.

Anonymous said...

Tim Burton is no fool - Edward Scissorhands is an amazing movie.

Anonymous said...


Agree with you. Big Fish was a very different movie. I kinda liked it.

But Batman movies ,in general, suck:) Havent watched this one as yet.


Hawkeye said...

I should have qualified Tim Burton to Batman movies.. that was the mistake.

Edward Scissorhands is one of my (all time) favorite movies too ..though at the time when i watched it everybody i spoke to seemed to dislike it so much... and irony of ironies when i critisize Tim Burton for his stupid Batman movies..Edward Scissorhands is being mentioned.

But Tim Burton's batman movies set a bad precedent for the later ones to follow. this batman movie sort of broke that bad tradition.

while Joker in the first bat movie was such a good character..(maybe it was bcoz of Jack Nicholson ) but Penguin was lame.. and the whole thing became more of a outrageous movie fest that bordered on the ridiculous than a good superhero movie..

Look at Batman and Robin.. the idiots.. that movie is not even entertaintment! Being an Arnie fan i cudnt bear to watch the freak show going on..

Hawkeye said...

Yo Nithin,

/*Although this movie errs on the side of sanity... but Oh! Ya this is the best Bat movie ever. This is the treatment that maybe best suited for a Batman movie and future Batman movies. */

as i said .. its a optimal kids Vs adults combo that the director and writers have to hit. I dont want batman begins to be kiddish. But i felt that limiting the "action" to the later part of the movie and instead having "making of the batman" for a good part of the movie would not appeal to children.

Hawkeye said...


i hope they keep batman begins running in imax for a month. i'd like to see it in imax