Batman Begins (2005) Movie Review

details
Title: Batman Begins.
Rated: PG-13.
Director: Christopher Nolan.
Screenplay: Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer.
Story: David S. Goyer.
Release Date: 2005.
Runtime:  140 min.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure & Crime.
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, and many more!

Budget: $150,000,000.
Opening Weekend USA: $48,745,440.
Gross USA: $206,852,432.
Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $379,680,185.
My Overall Rating:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10).

thoughts

Fear has a way of dictating our behaviour. It restrains us in our freedom to act as we wish, but it can also save us from danger. Putting the fear of God into a person could also transform them, shift their perspective towards a better path. But fear isn’t always present unless the idea is embodied by someone standing atop a gargoyle at night. Eight years after the release of one of the worse Batman movies of all time (Batman & Robin), legendary director Christopher Nolan unleashes his own brooding, dark, and inspiring take on the Dark Knight with the first movie of his Dark Knight Trilogy, Batman Begins. Steering clear of the humour-infused, one-liner-full, and cringe-full iteration of Batman, he now establishes a brand-new standard for superhero films that can be praised for its narrative, its visual cinematography, its score, and its acting performances. Drawing inspiration on classic comic book stories such as Batman: Year One and Batman: The Long Halloween, this movie introduces the world to an authentic and believable origin story for Gotham’s greatest hero.

What is Batman Begins about? Witnessing the devastating death of his parents as a child, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is raised by the family butler, Alfred J. Pennyworth (Michael Caine), who assumes the indispensable role of a parental figure throughout most of his life. It is upon confronting mafia boss Carmine Falcon (Tom Wilkinson) fourteen years later, after indulging a life lesson on vengeful vigilantism by Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), that Bruce Wayne embarks on a life-changing journey to immerse himself in the criminal underworld while also sharpening his combat training abroad. Recruited by Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) to join Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Shadows, he learns quintessential lessons in stealth, deception, and combat, on top of conquering his fears before he decides where he stands in the war on crime. His return to Gotham is hence motivated by a desire to purge the city of the crime and corruption it has known for far too long but the challenge is not without obstacles, from a deranged psychologist specialized in fear (Cillian Murphy) to an immortal madman wishing the destruction of Gotham.

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This is how you retell the birth of a hero while being respectful to the source material. Director Christopher Nolan does a masterful job in capturing the essence of this character’s heart and soul while infusing his narrative with a Hollywood formula that simply works on the silver screen. It isn’t just about a silly superhero, it’s about a person with the means and the resolve to fight for what he believes in. The non-linear structure of this story is also effortlessly constructed, allowing multiple timelines to seamlessly evolve with the same objective guiding them down the line: unveil Bruce Wayne’s psychological evolution.

Through actor Christian Bale’s stellar portrayal of Bruce Wayne, the movie gives the man under the cape and cowl the opportunity to emphasize his importance to Batman’s persona and vice-versa. After all, it’s not who he is underneath, but what he does that defines him. As Batman, actor Christian Bale also delivers a mesmerizing interpretation of the Dark Knight. From the growling voice to stunning batsuit, he presents a definitive version of the hero while showcasing his technologically-advanced gadgets and environment-wary combat strategies. The story is thus established on the premise that Bruce Wayne will be able to create an immortal idea that uses fear as its ultimate tool to fight crime and give hope to Gothamites.

The movie also succeeds thanks to the impressive and memorable secondary characters. Of course, this excludes Katie Holme’s contribution (or lack of) that unfortunately felt dull as her existence was merely a reminder to Bruce Wayne of the few good people left in Gotham. As for the rest, they don’t necessarily have any fully-developed subplot, but their presence is crucial to Bruce Wayne’s transformation. In fact, the movie is heavily focused on paternal figures for Bruce Wayne as he attempts to mold his own upbringing post-tragedy. From Henri Ducard’s strict regime and polarized views of the world to James Gordon’s law-abiding ways and hope-filled vision for Gotham, every character plays a key role in terms of guidance until Bruce Wayne dons the Dark Knight’s mantle and goes off to save the city from tearing itself apart. How can anyone not love Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) too? The comedy relief they bring to the table is pure gold.

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With fear being the central theme of this first movie, it was also only appropriate that Scarecrow was used as one of the main villains here. This is where actor Cillian Murphy offers a properly unhinged take on Dr. Jonathan Crane and helps explore another facet of fear through the immersion of individuals in their worse nightmares. With Bruce Wayne deciding to overcome his own fear of bats by embracing it as an idea that could also strike fear into the criminals he’ll take down, it was simply perfect to watch this hero dive into the danger headfirst and let his action speak for themselves as he helps the crime-ridden and corrupt city see the light at the end of the tunnel. The additional plot-twist villain at the end also helped complete the story-arc by going full circle on the topic and allowing Bruce Wayne and Batman to become fully realized in their potential as they come to terms as to what should be their purpose in life henceforth.

It would be a mistake not to mention the overall tone conveyed through the cinematography too. Iceland, United Kingdom, Chicago. The cinematography achieved by Wally Pfister brilliantly captures the tone of the movie desired by director Christopher Nolan. With almost as many shots during the day as the night, they’ve achieved the impossible by making Gotham feel alive in its own way. Stunningly divided between the poor and the rich, the social stratification is visually clearly established and serves as one of the finer premises that propels Bruce Wayne onto his crusade. It must be admitted that the fighting sequences are poorly-edited and suffer from the excessive and rapid alternating angles that never truly allow any real fighting choreography to be showcased. On top of that, the score created by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard is out of this world. The effect of their composition on the viewer’s emotions is immediately felt throughout the movie and clearly distinguishes both Bruce Wayne and Batman on the silver screen. Just leave it to them to make every single Batman appearance an unforgettable moment.

Batman Begins (2005) is the birth of a symbol of fear that rose for a bleeding city drowning in blood and sorrow.


EXHIBITA
A shift in the Batman cinematic legacy begins with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins as it delivers a dark, realistic, and compelling new take on the Caped Crusader.

Have you read any Batman comics?
Have you seen Batman Begins (2005)? Will you? What did you think about it?
Share your thoughts with me!

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49 comments

  • Yeah! I do love that movie (except for Katie Holmes, but what can you do ;)) Murphy’s Crane is wonderful, but it’s Oldman, Caine and Freeman who ultimately steal the show 😄 Bale is a bit raw here, especially at the beginning, but he grows impressively into the role. Neeson is very solid, too – and though the fear theme is a bit ham-handed, the movie holds up wonderfully to this day 😀 Great review, Lashaan!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m relieved to hear your love for this one! 😂 If I had to live knowing that Ola had huge problems with this movie, I think it would be a rough future! 😂 I’m with you on all your points there. This Bale-iteration is part of my influential childhood, especially The Dark Knight, and I’d have a tough time giving no credit for what he achieves here hahah Thanks, Ola! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  • I loved that movie! Except for Christian Bale’s Batman voice. Felt like they should’ve either gone with his cowboy voice in 3:10 to Yuma, or gone full on death metal growl. This wasn’t either. But you nailed the rest!

    Liked by 1 person

  • I much prefer the two following movies. I remember not being impressed by what I saw as overly tropish training sessions… but I’ve only seen it in cinema, and never re-watched, perhaps it’s time to give it another chance 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • Batman and Robin truly was one of the worst Batman movies ever. Glad that Nolan was able to turn the franchise around.

    I actually liked this the best of the trilogy. I’m a sucker for origin and training sequences 🙂 While I own this, I haven’t watched it for quite a while. It is SO inconvenient to pop a disc into the bluray player, hahahahahaa 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • And it’s actually one that I need to rewatch for a proper review in the future… Not looking forward to it. Or maybe I am as my inner masochist awakens at the mere thought of it 😂

      Wow, I’m quite glad to hear that this is your favourite of the three. Mine remains The Dark Knight as you’ll probably see from my review for it next month 😂 Hahahahah hopefully a rewatch will make you appreciate it for what it was 15 years ago! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      • What stuck out to me from B&R was the terrible one liner where Robin pulls out a batman themed credit card, stares into the camera and says “I never leave home without it”, or something so close to that that it wouldn’t make a difference. It was just horrible!

        I hope you suffer a lot as you watch it 😀 😀 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  • And now you made me want to re-watch this movie, which I remember fondly but whose details have become quite hazy…
    And as a huge Hans Zimmer fan, I very much appreciate that you mentioned his amazing soundtrack 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • Llllll-ooooonnngggg time Bats fan, here.

    This is a first for a hero to be so dark on the screen.

    I really dig the trilogy format used. This franchise did a good job of having a beginning, middle, and final ending to a story arc. I think that is rare and wonderful. We are seeing it more commonly now, but here, it is still a relatively new concept.

    Happy Trails!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hell yes! I know how you love those 3-part formats from our discussions on the Netflix Marvel shows and I agree! It’s a good format to follow for a self-contained narrative. And Nolan pretty much nails it for the first time. Thanks for reading as always, Icky! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  • This sounds good and no I haven’t seen it! I used to be able to watch movies, which I love doing, but post-kids, sorry….only kid-friendly movies that is, if we can sit quietly for about an hour or so to watch one! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  • These movies sometimes all blur together for me so I had to check Netflix to see I’d rated the movie, so I guess I have seen it. But it didn’t stick with me, I don’t remember much. Is this the one with a rose shown in a couple scenes? Even if it didn’t work for me at the time, you’ve still written a great review, showing the strengths of the film.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah no worries, Todd. There are many Batman movies, some way better than others though, so I can understand how they ended up being a blur today. And that’s why a re-watch couldn’t hurt! 😉 There isn’t a rose but there is a flower shown maybe twice in the movie. I’d be surprised if that’s what stuck with you all this time though hahahah I always forget about that little element whenever I come back to rewatch this movie!

      Like

  • I’m with Bookstooge on this movie, it’s my favourite of Nolan’s trilogy. The Dark Knight gets all the praise–and there is a lot to love in it–but I love this origin movie even more. It’s just a shame they didn’t do more with the Scarecrow or Ra’s Al Ghul. Great review, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I rarely hear people say its their favourite of the 3 but I’m glad it’s that rather than the “worse” 😂 I agree for the villains. Having read (even played games) with better stories revolving around those two villains, I know that it’s possible to create memorable and mind-blowing movies with them! Thanks for reading Wakizashi, I appreciate a lot! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome to hear your thoughts on Batman Begins my friend! Whilst Tim Burton’s Batman ’89 (along with Returns) will always remain the definitive favourite cinematic Batman for me, Nolan’s Batman Begins is an absolute gem and the most comic book-like of the Dark Knight Trilogy. The Dark Knight is obviously a bit of a masterpiece but I do think a little something was lost in Nolan’s quest for realism – but that’s the approach taken and I applaud it for that.

    Glad you mentioned the comic relief via (the great – one of my absolute fave actors) Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, that’s how I like it done in films like this – in a way that feels natural, unforced and without slapstick…and actually funny!

    I look forward to your thoughts on the remainder of the trilogy, which I’ll be revisiting myself later/early next year (the Batman films are always a Autumn/Winter watch for me for atmosphere!). I even keep threatening to review the Adam West movie…man the ’66 Batman is camp, cheesy and silly…but I’ve always had a certain guilty pleasure-fondness for that interpretation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I too love Burton’s Batman but Nolan’s trilogy was where it all began for me hahah The Dark Knight stands as a masterpiece upon multiple rewatch including my recent marathon through the trilogy. I do look forward to rewatching all the pre-Nolan Batman movies, even the bad ones that I have… negative memories of hahaha I agree for West’s Batman. It was the last one I saw before completing the whole Batman filmography and it was fun when you take into consideration the concept it had. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, totally love Nolan’s trilogy but similar to yourself it was the Burton films where it all began for me, leading into the phenomenal Batman: The Animated Series. Funny thing is, I recall seeing the Adam West series which re-ran as Batman ’89 came out and although there was a sense of camp, the young me took it quite seriously! I think the beauty of Batman ’66 is how as an adult you become aware of what they were doing!

        Liked by 1 person

  • Great review! 😀 I really need to watch this one. I’ve watched and absolutely loved The Dark Knight but then when I watched the third installment it just wasn’t my cup of tea whatsoever. I’ll have to make a point to watch this one some time though! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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