Batman Begins (2005) mini review

based on a comic


I wrote this back around the time the film came out, before this blog, but thought it was probably good timing to post it here, what with Dark Knight coming out and all.

As I watch Batman Begins, opening with a million flying bats briefly forming the Bat Symbol, I think to myself, DC Comics is finally back in the game. Constantine was pretty good, but he's not one of their flagship superheroes. Batman is. And with the upcoming Superman Returns and Wonder Woman, I think we've got a lot to look forward to.

While it's not based on Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, Batman Begins shares a number of elements with the classic mini-series. They're both obviously origin stories and include the first meetings of Batman and Jim Gordon, Gordon's dealing with Gotham City Police Department corruption, Gordon's corrupt partner Flass, and mob boss Carmine Falcone. That's not all, but I don't want to ruin every surprise. A number of other comic elements work their way into the film - Lucius Fox (who runs Wayne Industries for Bruce Wayne), the name of Bruce's parents's murderer (a key player in Batman: Year 2), even a cameo from a lesser known villain from Batman's Rogues Gallery.

One of the interesting differences is the idea that Ra's Al Ghul - a villain created by Dennis O'Neal in the 70's - is instrumental in the etiology of Batman. In the comics, Ra's wants to destroy most of humanity so that the earth can heal itself of man's ills and return to a more natural state; in Batman Begins, he wants to destroy the corruption in the world that seems to be the ultimate state of man's existence. To accomplish this end, his organization enlists the Scarecrow to help destroy Gotham City by unleashing a fear toxin via the city's water system.

Batman Begins is well-written, well-directed, and well-cast. Writer-director Christopher Nolan (Memento) has succeeded in bringing the Batman franchise up from the Lazarus Pit (sorry - a Ra's al Ghul comics reference). Christian Bale is Batman, Michael Caine is Alfred, Morgan Freeman is Lucius Fox, Gary Oldman is Jim Gordon, Cillian Murphy is the Scarecrow, Ken Watanabe is Ra's, Liam Neeson (Darkman) is Ra's henchmen Henri Ducard, and Rutger Hauer (Sin City, Smallville) is Earle, supplanter of Bruce's father's position as head of Wayne Industries.

See it if you're a Batman fan or if you want to see how DC re-enters the comic book movie game.

Don't see it if you're too much of a purist and can't handle any deviation from the source material.

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