Batman Begins

In the dark of night, a young man’s life is about to be forever changed. Young Bruce Wayne, son of wealthy industrialist Dr. Thomas Wayne (Linus Roache), is about to be orphaned in a random act of street violence.

The act will forever scar the younger Wayne, and will install and fuel a dark fire to stop crime and corruption wherever they may be. Fast forward years later and Bruce (Christian Bale), is interned in and Asian prison as a result of his desire to stop crime and an unfortunate series of events that made him flee Gotham City to find himself. Hope arrives one day in the form of a visitor named Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), who arranges not only to free Bruce, but to train him for his destiny.

High atop a rocky, snow-covered peak, Bruce undergoes rigorous physical and mental training to hone his body and mind into the ultimate tool to combat crime. As time passes, Bruce eventually is ready to go out into the world. That is until an unexpected situation arises that forces him to decide which path he wishes to select.

The aftermath of this decision has Bruce returning home to Gotham City, where he is again under the care of the trusted family servant Alfred (Michael Caine), who informs him that crime and corruption is rampant in Gotham because the crime leader Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), has many members of the police force and judicial system under his influence.

While touring his father’s company, Bruce meets Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), who makes all manners of high-end experimental military weaponry and armor available to Bruce. Inspired, Bruce begins to craft his alter ego Batman, and takes to the nights to disrupt Falcone and the criminal activities in Gotham.

Unknown to Bruce/Batman, an evil villain known as the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), is plotting to destroy Gotham, and with Batman being wanted by the police as a vigilante his attempts to cleanse the city are hindered as Bruce/Batman must fight a war on different fronts.

For most films this would be more than enough plot to carry a summer action film, but for Batman Begins, it is only the setup as the depth of the story is surpassed only by the depth of the intensity and emotion of the film as this is not Tim Burton or Joel Schumacher’s campy takes on the tale of the Dark Knight.

Director Christopher Nolan takes the gloves off and shows that his triumphant work in “Memento” was not a fluke. He has crafted a complex, dark, and emotional film that is more of a drama than a comic book caper. Bale does a masterful job portraying the angst and anger of his character without ever being hammy or over the top. He portrays Wayne as a very normal, yet disturbed soul, who clearly has a method to his madness and is not a shallow once dimensional character. When Bruce is not out fighting crime, he is not above cracking jokes, squiring the ladies about town, and spending time with long time friend (and the one who got away) Rachael Dawes (Katie Holmes).

The film takes many twists and never gets sappy as far too many comic based films do. In fact, the intensity of the film keeps going up until the town literally explodes into frenzy of violence and chaos. Parents should note that this Batman is a very intense film filled with dark images and as such may be too intense for younger viewers as this is a film that is aimed towards a more mature audience.

As I sat through the films nearly two and a half hour running time, I was captivated as the film holds your attention throughout, and is filled with great performances and action. The chase scene with the new Batmobile is one of the best car chase sequences in recent memory and the action scenes move with a crisp and steady pacing. Bale, as I mentioned, does great work, but so do Neeson, Caine and Gary Oldman in a supporting role as Police Officer Gordon. They take supporting characters and infuse them with a touch of humanity that enables them to come across as real people rather than the thin constructs that are far too often passed on as characters in films of this type.

The only real quibble I had with the film, and it is very minor, would be that Holmes was not given a chance to show more to her character other than the duality of the damsel in distress and the passionate Assistant D.A. Her scenes with Bale seem to lack the spark and chemistry of someone who is supposed to have been a close friend of Bruce since they were children.

That being said, the mature nature and gripping and deep storyline, as well as the standout performances and action, make this film a true classic and rivals “Spider-Man” as the best and most faithful adaptation of a comic book.

5 stars out of 5

The Blu Ray DVD is loaded with features including the opening of the new film “The Darkl Knight”
Aside from amazing sound and picture quality, there are loads of other features such as in movie experience, A Batman Spoof, and many behind the scenes features.