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