Saturday, June 18, 2005

Movie Review – Batman Begins

(Image courtesy of Warner Bros. )

I went to see “Batman Begins” today at TGV Sunway Pyramid today. The one good thing of going to movies alone is that you would almost always get a seat even to a sold out show as there are usually single seats scattered about as opposed to getting multiple seats next to each other. It so happens that not only did I get a seat in a sold-out show this afternoon but I was also able to get almost the best seat in the house for the showing.

A tip for those watching movies in TGV Sunway Pyramid – always ask for seats near M14 if they are showing the movie in theater 1. The whole M row in that theater has extra leg room for people who like to stretch out while watching their movie but M14 is right where the audio sweet spot is for that room. You would really get the best audio a and video experience in and around that seat number. I always make it a point to get that seat if any of the movies that I want to see was playing in theater 1.

Back to the movie.

“Batman Begins” is the fifth installment of the Batman features that began with Tim Burton’s “Batman” back in 1989. This latest entry of the franchise is directed by Christopher Nolan brings the story back to basics to the origin of the person donning the cape and cowl. Gone are the trappings of the BatCave, BatPlane, BatSidekick, BatNipple and BatCodpiece that were all slowly bogging down the previous outing of the Dark Knight. We get in this movie is a leaner and meaner Batman that closely follows the character that comic book fans have known and loved for close to 66 years.

By taking elements from the fan-favorite “Batman: Year One” graphic novel by Frank Miller, Nolan has crafted a screenplay that exposes the mythic character as being all too human despite the mask that he wears. Through flashbacks sequence, the viewer is treated to glimpses of how the man behind the cowl became to be who he is from the moment that he witnessed his parents gunned down by a petty criminal in a dark and dirty alley. In a homage to the source material, comic readers will surely recognize the scene with young Bruce Wayne kneeling amongst his parents’ dead bodies as lifted directly from the comic books.

Even from the first act, the action sequences in this movie were truly breathtaking and dazzling. The rich scope of the sequences can be overwhelming for some but for those who have been sorely disappointed by the pervious installments of this series would welcome it wholeheartedly. The progression of these action set pieces are punctuated by quieter moments that wonderfully flesh out the movie with well developed characters and masterfully crafted dialogue. With nary a hair of inconsistent continuity, these moments are as joyful to watch as the explosive action sequences.

After 3 actors playing the titular character in the franchise, we now have a definitive interpretation of how the character should be portrayed from this movie. Like Christopher Reeves as “Superman” and Lynda Carter as “Wonder Woman” before him, future fans will remember Christian Bale as “Batman” when they think of the character. He combines the prerequisite swagger and charm to pull the character of Bruce Wayne much better than Val Kilmer ever did and has successfully projected a better quite menacing demeanor as Batman than Michael Keaton before him. Special mention also should be given to Michael Caine, Morgan Freemen and Gary Oldman for their masterful portrayal of Alfred, Lucius Fox and Jim Gordon respectively. Unfortunately the same could not be said for Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes who seems at time overshadowed by the great talent around her.

As the main villains of this installment, Nolan has selected a long time fan favorite, Ra’s Al Ghul and the Scarecrow who is an underutilized villain in his gallery of rogues. By selecting a non-flashy villains compared to those who appeared in the previous movies, this movie thankfully avoids the pitfall of the villain outshining the hero of the story. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the twist in the third act of the film involving one of the villains of the piece as I was not expecting it at all. On the flipside, I felt the climatic battle involving the other was anti-climactic to say the least. They should have given this villain’s plotline a better resolution.

The movie ends with an opening for further sequels with a tantalizing glimpse of the possible future adversary. Much like the wildly popular “Spider-Man” movie series, it would be interesting to see where they will take this newly revamped franchise in the future. If this latest entry is any indication, the franchise is in good hands indeed.

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