review by Neo
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Batman used to haunt my childhood, and the fond memories of Batman (1989) is probably as dark as any movie I have seen and the Gorham city is the most memorable setting in my long childhood experience. However, the last Batman and Robin was just crap and absolutely without substance, Arnie as Mr. Freeze, George Clooney was Batman and add Jim Carrey as Joker and Nicole Kidman as Cat woman, you know that movie was a bad miscast. Lucky, they changed the director and the whole cast, with great dramatic actors in strong supporting turns, while the tense Christian Bale as Batman. However, the best of all change is the director in Christopher Nolan, the person behind Memento, a cult classic hit with post-modernism fans, a true mind blowing movie that play like a reverse movie – from end to beginning. A true talented director, Nolan, is probably the least expected person to direct a Batman movie and geez, he brought the Cape Knight back to life, with not just stupid Batman fighting villains to fill cinema seats, but rather, a dark and shockingly dark outing that I dare say probably can rival Spiderman or may be even surpassing it – in Neo’s honest opinion.
The movie goes like this: As a witness to the murder of his parents, a young Bruce Wayne dedicates his life to avenging their deaths. But when an early bid for revenge is foiled, he flees to the East for counsel from the mystifying Ra's Al-Ghul (Watanabe). Fit for a return to the decaying Gotham City, Wayne heads underground with Lucius Fox (Freeman), an old family ally who helps him embrace his new persona: Batman. With a detective's intuition and a millionaire's resources, the master crime-fighter squares off against two of Gotham's biggest threats, unaware that a sinister, knowing enemy plots against him. (imdb)
Nolan uses the show not tell principle rather well, and refuses to stick to formulaic crap like Catwoman and just focus on fight scenes, instead it learnt a great deal from Spiderman, that the character development is vital to a superhero movie success, as we grow to actually care about them and the realism that Nolan portrays here is just brilliant to watch. Bale a newfound good actor since The Machinist, is menacing, yet displaying a troubling side that Batman have never been able to show before. His weaker side gives the audience an emotional impact that is so dramatic that we actually felt for the death of his parents. Nolan in that scenes raise the question of “what ifs”, knowing him as a postmodernist as seen in Memento, he shows how random things actually happen. Like it or not, that scene is so brutally and darkly shot in front of a young kid – Bruce Wayne, it is immensely striking and stunning to watch.
Supporting actors are all well-known, and appearing here and there, are Liam Neeson in his Star Wars philosophy mode saying shit ass cool lines like – in order to overcome fear, is to become the fear. Saying that the movie have a hell of a lot of other cool memorable lines, namely – “people falls, so they can get back up again”. That line is so true for this movie, as Batman Returns truly got back up from the shit hole that it has fallen in a few years ago and hitting all time low with the atrocious Catwoman. Freeman appears in yet another sleepwalking role, while Michael Caine shows once again that he is a damn good actor to watch. While I have heard criticism regarding Tom Cruise’s engaged girlfriend – Kate Holmes of bad acing, I actually liked her, as she has this kind of cuteness that makes you want to watch and know her more. But yeah, Neo is a guy, so he is probably bias in that.
Overall Batman Begins is hell of a dark yet very entertaining ride. Filled with atmospheric realism and strong character development, the movie provides a great and emotional back story of the becoming of Batman and the fact that like Spiderman – he is just one of us. Nolan greatest success here may not be his actual direction, but the way that the dark city is so real that we can actually relate to it – makes this a much better movie than its predecessor. The movie surely has a lot of meaning things to say, with lines like – “what is underneath me is not important, but it is things that I do that makes the difference.” It’s been a while that America has made a damn good movie, and with so much blockbuster at the cinemas right now, this one stand on the top of the list, not just because Batman is cool again, but it has fallen so low a few years ago and yet it has the will to step up and get back up again that really counts!
I rate it 9/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Kate Holmes, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), June 2005