Customer Review: A comic book movie where the drama is better than the action
The ultimate argument of "Batman Begins" is that Batman is really more like Superman than we have suspected. The two DC comic book superheroes have always been like night and day, with Batman prowling Gotham City at night relying on only his finely honed human abilities while Superman uses his superpowers for truth, justice, and the American way. But one of the things that made Superman unique was that he really is Superman, the strange visitor from another planet: he pretends to be Clark Kent. "Batman Begins" argues that the same thing applies to Batman. His name might be Bruce Wayne, but the billionaire the world sees is just a construct. Batman is his true face.
Batman is a psychotic and in this 2005 film we find out why. Before his parents were murdered young Master Wayne had a fateful encounter with a whole bunch of bats, and the two events actually end up being related, which makes the death of his parents even more tragic. Despite the protestations of the loyal Alfred, Bruce Wayne knows it is his fault. But while becoming a crime fighter is inevitable there is still a choice as to how that war will be waged, which means traveling halfway around the world to be mentored and trained.. Then he must return to Gotham City and transform himself into a creature of the night whose very appearance will terrorize the criminals and supply himself with the gadgets that will give him a fighting chance on the streets. However, Gotham is being threatened by more than its ruling crime lord and the stakes are higher than our hero knows.
The problem is that I hate the frantic pace of film editing in action films like "Batman Begins." I am not overly enamored of hand held camera work either, but it is constant cutting in contemporary montage that is driving me crazy. When I go to a theater to see a movie I would like to actually see what is going on and not have to wait until the DVD comes out to slow things down to really see what is going on. This approach to editing did not start with "Batman Begins," but since I was looking forward to this cinematic retelling of the origin of the Dark Knight it was particularly bothersome. Every time Batman starts fighting the images are on the screen long enough that I can tell it is a new shot but then we are on to the next one while I try to make sense of the jumbled images of these fight scenes.
Maybe the key reason why "Spider-Man 2" remains the best comic book movie to date is because since the tentacles of Doctor Octopus had to be computer generated Spider-Man was be as well in their big fight scenes. There is not a sequences as good in "Batman Returns" as the one where Spidey and Doc Ock battle on the side of the building in "Spider-Man 2," mainly because there is not a single shot in the action sequences of this new film even half as long as that one. Meanwhile there are lots of martial arts films in which we managed to see what is happening during their big fight sequences, so how come we cannot do the same thing in this Batman movie? When Batman fights I want to see what he is doing flip through shots like I was flipping through the pages of an issue of a "Batman" comic book. It is maddening.
The big irony is that usually movies about comic book superheroes sacrifice story to action, but that is not the case with this screenplay, co-written by director Christopher Nolan and writer David S. Goyer (based on characters created by Bob Kane, but with obvious nods to Frank Miller's work, especially "Batman: Year One"). Originally the story was quite simple: young Bruce Wayne sees his parents gunned down by a robber. He builds up his body, studies science and decides to become a masked vigilante, taking as his inspiration a bat that flies against a window of Wayne Manor. Noland and Goyer provide more depth to the origin, which adds to the depth of the character as well, which is why I rounded up on this one in the end. The only real flaw in their script is an over reliance on the screenwriting trick of doubling up on dialogue (if a line is good once maybe it will be even better a second time). That is why when people talk about their favorite bits in this film they will probably be talking about one-liners (virtually every scene has one) and not any particular action sequence or specific gag.
Few will be surprised that Christian Bale has no problems playing the Dark Knight, and a supporting cast that offers by Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer and Morgan Freeman is pretty impressive for a comic book movie. It is too bad that Katie Holmes is not only 16 years younger than the youngest in that bunch because she seems like a kid and not an Assistant D.A. with a death wish, and there is no reason for her to be around for the next one given her benedictory speech. Besides, if Batman works even more closely with Lieutenant Gordon to catch the Joker in the next movie, that would be fine with me. The bottom line here is that while I have no problem with the idea this is the best Batman movie to date, the action sequences were not as good as the other parts of the movie and they should have been in order to move "Batman Begins" from being very good to being truly great.
Customer Review: Shortened, But Still Awe Inspiring
Great Movie, but the beginning seemed a little shortened (im not really sure) and made the film seem like it was going too fast. But it is still a must-buy.
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