Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Batman: The Journey Begins: Creative
Concepts, Story Development and Casting. Shaping Mind and Body:
Fighting Style. Gotham City Rises: Production Design. Cape and
Cowl: The New Batsuit. Batman – The Tumbler: The New Batmobile.
Path to Discovery: Filming in Iceland. Saving Gotham City: The
Monorail Chase Sequence. Genesis of the Bat: Batman Incarnations
from the Mid-1980s to the Present. Confidential Files Character/Weaponry
Gallery. Still Gallery of Design Ideas Developed to Market the
Movie. DVD-Rom Weblink.
HAVING gone super-camp in Joel Schumacher's wretched Batman &
Robin, Bruce Wayne goes super-dark in Christopher Nolan's re-imagined
take on DC Comics' greatest superhero - with mightily impressive
Batman Begins, as its title suggests, takes a look at the origins
of Gotham's Dark Knight, taking time to explore the mixed-up psychology
of its central protagonist, as well as the reasons why a city
might come to depend on him.
Much like the hero himself - it is a film of two identities;
one that looks good and comes bristling with energetic action
sequences, and another that's all about the characterisation.
As he showed in his previous films, Memento and Insomnia, Nolan
knows how to tell a story, no matter how complex the narrative
As such, Batman Begins is tailor-made for the director's multi-layered
approach, beginning at two points by simultaneously juxtaposing
the life-altering trauma that shaped Bruce Wayne's destiny as
an eight-year-old child, with his decision to follow a path that
will enable him to fight crime as the ultimate symbol of fear.
Hence, the first act functions as both a history lesson and training
montage that cleverly integrates all of the key characters into
the drama of the second half, which continues to remain engrossing
even as the action comes to the fore.
As Batman himself, Christian Bale is both quietly charismatic
and broodingly intense, expertly conveying the dual personality
of a man still wracked with guilt over the murder of his parents
and torn between the desire for justice over revenge.
Yet the screenplay, by Nolan and David S Goyer, is keen to play
up the struggle between good and evil and the thin line that exists
When rescued from a Far Eastern prison by Liam Neeson's mysterious
Ducard, Wayne is trained to become a deadly Ninja assassin incapable
of applying sympathy to those who do wrong.
Yet he turns his back on such extreme
methods in a bid to find his own path, almost killing Ducard in
the process, but determined to put a stop to the underworld activity
that is threatening to consume Gotham city.
By becoming Batman, he thereby uses the symbol of his biggest
childhood fear as a weapon against his enemies, who are many and
First up, is Tom Wilkinson's straight-forward mob boss, Carmine
Falcone, before he is 'replaced' by an even more cunning medical
experimenter, in the form of Cillian Murphy's Dr Jonathan Crane
and his alter-ego, The Scarecrow.
Both turn out to be mere pawns in a far bigger criminal masterplan,
however, that involves the wholesale destruction of Gotham and
Yet Batman is not alone in his crusade against them, picking
his allies carefully and employing them with stealth.
Hence, Gary Oldman has a pivotal role to play as a sympathetic
police officer, while Michael Caine adds a lot of dry humour to
the role of Wayne's butler, Alfred, and even Morgan Freeman seems
to be having fun as the resourceful engineer, Lucius Fox, who
supplies many of the weapons Batman uses to fight crime.
And then there's Katie Holmes' childhood friend, Rachel, who
has since become an assistant district attorney, thereby providing
Wayne with both a law-savvy conscience and potential love-interest.
Given that there is so much to establish, it's little wonder
that the film is almost two and a half hours in length.
Yet it seldom drags, striking a near-perfect balance between
story and action.
Early on, there are plenty of bone-crunching fight sequences
to offset the character-building, while the first introduction
of Batman and the Bat-Mobile are both competently handled, as
is the tense finale.
Indeed, there are only minor criticisms that don't really detract
from the overall enjoyment.
Holmes is probably too much of a goody-goody type and is the
least interesting of the performers, while a lot of the action
takes place at night, making it difficult to see some of what's
Younger children may also find some of the material a little
too harrowing, despite the 12A certificate.
Yet in all other aspects, Batman Begins is a colossal achievement
that rivals the very best in blockbuster entertainment.
Batman Begins enjoys strong
US opening but box office slump continues
New Batman finds origins
in original Superman movie
Christopher Nolan interview
Christian Bale hails darker
direction for The Dark Knight
Christian Bale interview
Katie Holmes interview