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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Batman Begins

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Judy Thorburn

"Batman Begins" - Pass The Bat-On To Superb Bale

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“BATMAN BEGINS" – PASS THE BAT-ON TO SUPERB BALE

As soon as I heard that Christian Bale was slated to play Batman in the new prequel to the franchise, I got excited. I’ve been a fan of his for years and knew this was perfect casting.  Here is a guy who has consistently demonstrated his remarkable range and skill as an actor since making his screen debut as a 13 year old in Steven Spielberg’s 1987 WW II epic, Empire of the Sun. Although Bale’s resume includes roles that have garnered him international acclaim, they have never been in a mainstream commercial success for audiences to make him a superstar.  Not until now, that is. Finally, Bale gets the chance to wow audiences, in what is sure to be a blockbuster summer hit, with the best portrayal of Batman ever to hit the screen. Forget all the others who have donned the masked costume. They can’t compare. When you see what Christian Bale brings to the title character you will know he was made for this role.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Batman Begins, Batman, Batman and Robin, Comic Book, DC comics, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, TV series, Liam Neeson

In addition to Christian Bale, this film is a major surprise in that it is so different than any of the others based on Bob Kane’s original comic book.  If you recall directors Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher both delivered somewhat stylized dark screen versions that were more campy than deep.  With young (35 year old) director Christopher Nolan (Insomnia, Memento) at the helm for Batman Begins, I am so pleased to report that he has brought some depth and meat to the Batman series by delivering a more dramatic and engrossing story from start to finish.  In essence the Batman story is elevated to a new and improved level.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Batman Begins, Batman, Batman and Robin, Comic Book, DC comics, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, TV series, Liam Neeson

Batman Begins doesn’t just give a glimmer of his background and what made him tick.  It delves into the traumatic past and roots of the character from his early childhood and spends half of the movie exploring the fears and events that led up to Bruce Wayne becoming his alter ego, the Caped Crusader.  It is a slow and intriguing buildup that is worth the wait before we see the Batman persona realized and unleashed.

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Gotham City’s Bruce Wayne (Bale) was the son of a millionaire industrialist.  We learn through witnessing young Bruce’s bad close encounter with bats that the experience has left him scarred with a deep-rooted fear. That fear eventually leads to a tragic event where he is witness to his parents being killed during a robbery, causing a guilt ridden Bruce to escape his life, travel the world and live among criminals in order to understand the criminal mind.

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One day, while imprisoned in an Asian country a mysterious man named Henri Lucard (Liam Neeson) shows up as his rescuer with the intent of training Bruce to become a member of the League of Shadows, an organization run by Master Ninja Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe), who have taken it upon themselves to rid the world of evil and restore balance at whatever the cost. But when Bruce refuses to be an executioner, he is forced to flee and returns to his native Gotham after a seven years hiatus, where he decides to utilize his newly trained skills and create the new persona of Batman as a way to fight against injustice.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Batman Begins, Batman, Batman and Robin, Comic Book, DC comics, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, TV series, Liam Neeson

There isn’t just one villain, but many that are about to be challenged.  Wayne Industries, originally run by Bruce’s philanthropic father, has more corporate minded Richard Earle (Rutger Hauer) as its head. The city, in a depression, is overrun by crime lord Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), and has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice. But, he’s tame compared to Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), the evil psychiatrist in possession of a psychotropic hallucinogen to which he gives his enemies, has them declared insane and then put into the loony bin. The not-so-good doctor also wears a mask as the “Scarecrow” and is in cahoots with the shady League, which plans on dispersing the drug into the city’s water supply and using a super weapon to vaporize the toxin into the air so that it could be inhaled.

The entire supporting cast is splendid. On the light side of the force (sorry, I still have the Star Wars saga on my mind) are Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) Bruce’s childhood friend, now assistant district attorney and potential love interest, the only (seems to be) honest cop in town, Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman, how rare to see him play a good guy, for a change), loyal family servant Alfred (Michael Caine) and the gadget genius (think James Bond’s Q) who works in the basement of Wayne Industries, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman).  With the help of Fox and Alfred, Bruce finds the necessary equipment such as cape, suit and car to pull it all together as Batman.  The way this evolves is really cool and clever.

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I was also totally drawn into the psychological aspects of Batman’s tortured soul and how he overcame his fears by facing them and ultimately using that symbol of what he feared the most to fight evil.

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Filmmaker Nolan has finally made a Batman story that audiences were waiting for, whether the comic book fan or not.  Although the emphasis is on more realistic character insight and drama than comic book fantasy, he hasn’t sacrificed any dynamics such as atmospheric quality, eye candy special effects, or thrilling action.  Batman Begins has it all and should satisfy the most loyal of Batman fans. I loved it.

If Batman Begins is the start of a new series, I hope Bale will return for another go around.  Trust me, this Christian will have everyone believing.