Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Batman Begins

After seeing it, I would say that "Batman Begins" bumps up to number 2 on the summer movie list. This is the dark and gritty Batman, very similar in tone to the Frank Miller "Batman: Year One" that so revitalized the chracter in the comics. This new adaptation adds a new and ironic twist to the Batman legend--that, as a child, he was terrified by bats, thus making the ultimate choice of the bat-icon a gesture of defiance in the face of fear. The movie continues the legend, again with some twists: it is an opera performance of Boito's "Mefistofeles" the waynes are leaving when they have their fateful encounter. (In the comics they were leaving a movie--"Zorro" with Douglas Fairbanks, also a symbolic choice.) Originally a nameless thug, the film restores the later name given the killer--Joe Chill, a petty criminal. (The first of the recent Batman movies made thte Waynes' killer the man who would later become the Joker--anothe change unique to the movies.) Bruce grows up traumatized and disaffected,nearly wasting his life to take revenge on Chill, when the Underworld reaches out and cheats him of that as well. He then journeys across the world learning the fighting skills he will later use as Batman.

The choice of villains was interesting. Scarecrow has always been a secondary Bat-villain, a sort of reverse-Joker, but his "fear gas" makse a believable city-destroying weapon, even if the delivery system is not. (A microwave emitter sufficiently powerful to areosolize all the water in a buried pipe system would kill every human in its range all by itself--.) In the comics, Ras Al Gul is the legendary "Old Man of the Mountain," leader of the Brotherhood of Assassins. The movie version heads a different sort of secret society dedicated to promoting social evolution by destroying decadent cultures--and no place is more decadent than Gotham, at least in Al Gul's measurement.

Christain Bale made a very good Wayne/Batman, even if the shape of his face does eerily resemble tht of Adam west, the notorious TV Batman of the 1960's. The supporting cast was well chosen, except, in my opinion, the too-pretty actor who played Jonathan Crane, who was always a notabley homely character in the comics, and no longer young when he turned to crime.

I'm not sure if this is the best Batman film, but it's a close call between this and the first modern Batman, with its Gothic Gotham and over-the-top-Jack Nicholson as The Joker (The Joker is one of my favorite comic villains) but Bale may be the best Batman yet.
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