What happens when Qui-Gon Jinn goes to the dark side, The Last Samurai is a bad guy, Tom Cruise’s Fiancé plays a not important part, the kid from Empire of the Sun, Newsies, and Swing Kids play a super hero, God as the hero’s “Q”, and Michael Caine plays a butler? You get Christopher Nolan’s version of Batman.
I have to admit, I was very apprehensive about seeing Batman Begins. I was worried about all the changes and that they where going to be basically starting over. I was disappointed that Tim Burton wasn’t directing or that Christian Bale would suck as batman since in my mind I still think Michael Keaton is the best. And Michael Caine as Alfred? Michael Gough’s Alfred is a tall order even for a talented actor as Michael Caine (it was rumored that Michael Gough died but I haven’t found any info to support that). But after seeing the movie I was pleasantly surprised.
I haven’t read the Batman comics yet but I plan on catching up and definitely reading Frank Miller’s Version(Batman the Dark Knight Returns). Growing up a preacher’s kid in rural Nebraska has a lot of downfalls and lack of access to comic books was one of them. I did watch a lot of the old Batman TV series with Adam West. The first few Batman movies seem to follow this corny, for a lack of a better word, style. Tim Burton directed the first two movies (Batman and Batman Returns) and the universe and feel of Gotham City and Batman world fit so well into this directorial vision (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and Sleepy Hollow). His work is very visual and eye catching. Which is why I was worried about Christopher Nolen signing on as director. The Batman universe is about action and feel, Christopher Nolen’s prior work (Memento and Insomnia) was very cerebral. I didn’t think it was going to work but it did. Very well. He was able to show the universe at you would expect and ad his own touch of psychological story line.
Now I have seen all the Batman movies, including the Batman movie in 1966, and I would have to say that in my personal opinion Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns) was the best Bruce Wayne/Batman. He was able to disconnect the 2 characters and make then two different people. Something the other actors who played Batman (George Clooney, Val Kilmer) didn’t not do. Christian Bale is definitely as good if not better then Michael Keaton Portrayal. He was able to convey to the viewer the internal conflict and the duel personalities of the character. Something I have been waiting for in the Batman series.
Michael Caine is a very talented and celebrated English actor, I guess that’s why he was cast in the role of Alfred the Butler, I was leery if he would be able to pull off Alfred Pennywise as well as Michael Gough portrayal. To my surprise he pulled if off just as good.
The supporting cast was also very good. Gary Oldman played a younger Sergeant Gordon, Katie Holmes plays an Assistant District Attorney and Bruce Wayne’s love interest, which really didn’t add anything o the story. Ken Watanabe played Ra’s Al Ghul. Liam Neeson played Bruce Wayne’s trainer and a bad guy. Cillian Murphy, the guy from 28 Days Later, played a bad guy too. Morgan Freeman played the weapons and gadget supplier. And it was a pleasant surprise to see Tom Wilkinson (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Normal) play a Crime Lord.
Is this Batman Movie as good as the Original? Possibly. Was Christian Bale one of the best Batman actors? I would probably say yes. Is it worth seeing? Definitely yes. I Hope that in the sequel that the franchise does not take the downward spiral that the first 4 movies took. And yes the Batmobile was BAD ASS. A million times better then the car version. I need to get me one of those.
Out of 5 asterisks: ****