Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Batman Begins Commentary

I know I’m late to the party with this one but I wanted to watch Batman Begins and The Dark Knight again before going to see the conclusion this summer. 

I was sort of a Batman fan growing up.  While I didn’t collect the comics, I did have a few and had some action figures.  He was my favourite super hero but I wasn’t super excited when the 1990s movies came out or when this reboot happened (I still haven’t seen the second 1990s one with Danny DeVito as the Penguin). But the new ones looked cool and I like Batman so I gave them a shot.  To be honest, I don’t understand why they are so highly regarded and super-successful.  I will concede that the first one is a well-made movie with a decent story.  Although one beef I have with these super hero reboots is that they constantly beat us over the head with origins exposition that we already all know.  In Batman Begins, we do have that but it is woven well into the character motivation buildups.  Overall, though, Batman Begins does take a little too much time to get to any actual plot with a typical comic book villain that Batman has to fight.  That makes it suffer as a stand alone movie.  However, when you realize that it is the first part of a trilogy, you can see it as an introductory piece and forgive that aspect of it. 

I did notice that some of the acting and writing in this movie seemed over the top and forced.  But, even if they tried to get away from the camp factor, it is still based on comic books and you can never fully get rid of that aspect.  Given the source material they had to work with I’d say they did a decent job of minimizing the camp and still delivering Batman to us properly. 

I also found the movie somewhat difficult to watch.  In showing the dark depravity that Gotham has descended into, I think they may have gone a bit too far.  Everything in this movie is so bleak that by the time you get to the end, the viewer is so depressed and feels that there is absolutely no hope.  Even the stuff that was supposed to be a little lighthearted (like the train ride with Bruce and his father or the scene at the hotel) comes off as oppressive.  So you can imagine that the scenes that take place in the Narrows and at Arkham are even more so.  I know the intent is to make the viewer feel like they are immersed in a story of a saviour bringing society out of an absolutely hopeless situation.  In many respects they hit it spot on; maybe a bit too spot on because the visuals get very depressing at points. 

I think the biggest problem I have with these movies though is the fact that Christian Bale is in them.  I will admit that I am biased in the fact that I have this irrational and unreasonable dislike for the man’s work.  (Yet I still go see many of his movies because the movies themselves look decent.)  He just irks me for some unexplainable reason.  And his acting as Batman irks me even more.  I know Batman has to talk different than Bruce Wayne to keep his identity a secret but Bale’s version of that is pretty annoying.  He does this gravelly, mouth breather thing that irritates me.  I know it’s irrational. 

All in all though, this is a decent movie if you like the dark aspect of the Batman saga.  It also has some decent action and some very good supporting performances from Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman.  See it.  But know that if you do, you must invest time in the next two movies because it is a setup piece.

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