Monday, June 15, 2015

10 Years of "Batman Begins"

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been a decade since Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” hit theaters. The first big-screen take on Batman since 1997’s cinematic abortion “Batman & Robin” had a lot to fulfill for fanboys and regular moviegoers alike, especially considering what all had come before it. Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” is still considered the definitive take on the character, and while it still is for me to a degree, there’s something about “Batman Begins” that ever so slightly edges it out.

Gone was the gothic atmosphere and art deco set design. In its place was a sense of realism that a Batman movie had never had before. Looking back, this was for the best, especially considering the ridiculousness of “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin”. We were given a suit and gadgets that were based on military technology, adding to the realistic tone, and it worked. Nearly everything in the film worked…except for the twist of the real Ra’s Al Ghul (I saw that coming a mile away when I first laid eyes on Liam Neeson, it’s the beard man). That aside, this was the best modern take on Batman that we could have hoped for thus far.

Speaking of Ra’s, the other thing that “Batman Begins” did really well was present us two iconic villains that had never been on film before with him and The Scarecrow, and it did it in a realistic and believable way. Granted that Scarecrow’s exit from the film is abrupt and Batman’s final showdown with Ra’s I always found to be a bit underwhelming, but that’s beside the point. For a majority of the film’s two and a half hour running time, it doesn’t relent much, and that’s a good thing.

The casting is mostly good. Say what you will about Christian Bale overdoing the voice, because he does, but he’s a believable Batman in terms of sheer physicality. Katie Holmes sucks; we all already knew that, but Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Neeson, and Cillian Murphy are pitch perfect as Alfred, Gordon, Ra’s, and Scarecrow respectively. We couldn’t have asked for better casting choices for any of them.

Now granted, I do tend to enjoy “The Dark Knight” more than “Batman Begins”, mainly because of Heath Ledger’s timeless take as Joker, but looking back on it; “Batman Begins” is the superior film, only by a hair. It’s the perfect superhero origin story on film, and it hits all the main points without it being overblown or missing the mark. “Iron Man” comes close as being a perfect take on a cinematic origin, but “Batman Begins” tops it with its villains and overall sense of realism.

I could keep singing its praises, but most of you already know how great “Batman Begins” is already. Nolan’s trilogy is a whole is still the best live-action representation of Batman to this day, even if “The Dark Knight Rises” falters to the point of close to mediocrity. If you’ve never seen it for some reason, you need to. “Batman Begins” is the best pure origin story of a superhero on film, and remains one of the greatest comic book film adaptations of all time.

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