REVIEW: Batman Begins

The Batman franchise was at a normal, balanced level following the two successful comic book adaptations by Tim Burton, but it had gradually hit rock bottom due to the release of Batman Forever and especially Batman & Robin at the hands of Joel Schumacher. The strongest alternative to possibly revive the series was to simply reboot it in an attempt to expose another side to Batman and co in Gotham City. Furthermore, becauseBatman Begins told Bruce Wayne’s origin story of how he became the Caped Crusader, it partially served as a non-official prequel. Nevertheless, Batman Begins became a critical and commercial success that became the reboot the series desperately needed.

Nolan’s work hadn’t quite risen to worldwide fame until The Dark Knight’s release but Batman Begins was where he started off his own Batman trilogy. Unlike any other within the series, Nolan slightly reduced the essence of comical backgrounds and approach to characters and expressed that even those in comic books can be exposed as normal human beings. Nolan provided the telling of Batman’s uprising in not only a very masculine and realistic tone but also took us on an emotional and very personal ride. Furthermore, he avoided the vintage computer-generated effects that have overkilled many films over the years and used stuntmen to perform an action sequence, which was more than impressive. Still, the most successful aspect of Batman Begins was how well Nolan handled the realism of it all. The emotions, the storyline and again, how it was filmed captured that feeling and continued to run throughout the rest of the trilogy.

Behind every superhero, there is a build-up, background story of how he/she fulfilled their destinies and obtained their abilities. Peter Parker had his tale of his transformation into Spider-Man as did Clark Kent into Superman, but now we are provided with Bruce Wayne’s young life and the beginning of Batman. Wayne had been portrayed three previous times by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney. Now we have Christian Bale in the role where we witnessed a much younger Bruce Wayne. Unlike his predecessors, Bale fitted perfectly into both the rich, noble but emotionally confused Bruce Wayne and the uniquely heroic Batman. He grasped a very fixed connection between the two but at the same time, exposed two opposing characters. Nevertheless, Bale may have been underestimated but he undoubtedly is the strongest performer in the role. There weren’t any other actors from the previous films that returned in Batman Begins but there were more sophisticated supporting performers in Nolan’s trilogy than in Burton and Schumacher’s instalments. Michael Caine became the latest actor to portray Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce’s butler and personal mentor. Alfred is what one would describe as “the normal one” as Alfred simply feels how we, the audience, feel during the film. Caine provided this successfully and established a very close on-screen bond with Christian Bale.

Furthermore, Liam Neeson made his presence known in another franchise as Henri Ducard, who trained Bruce before he became Batman. Neeson, ironically, portrayed the master and trainer of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – the first instalment of another trilogy. There is always a love interest for every superhero and in this reboot; the role of Rachel Dawes went to Katie Holmes. Her performance was not entirely appalling but her beauty did not suit the nature of the character. She seemed a bit too young in the role, but thankfully her performance was replaced and redeemed by Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. Cillian Murphy took on the role of Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow and gave a psychologically terrifying performance. He became a mentally unstable start for Batman but was only the beginning as the Joker came along next. Finally, Gary Oldman portrayed Sgt. Jim Gordon, Morgan Freeman performed as Lucius Fox and others, such as Rutger Hauer, Tom Wilkinson and Ken Watanabe made appearances in Batman Begins too.

Overall, Batman Begins is a very personal, dark reboot that the Batman franchise not only needed, but deserved. In addition, it served well as a prequel too as it fulfilled the wishes from the fans and critics as Bruce’s story was told very realistically and became a more than convincing character to journey with. This does not always work with film adaptations, but it firmly honored the comic books, its original sources, but also revolutionised a modern Batman and Gotham City. The birth of Batman in Batman Begins literally became the equivalence to the resurrection of the entire Batman franchise. Christopher Nolan was the perfect man for the job of renovating this series as he bolted off to a flying start and then progressed to make the two widely successful sequels.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 19/07/2012.

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