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The Laughing Academy
A Life of Noisy Desperation
Thoughts on "Batman Begins" 
9th-Jul-2005 06:10 pm
Steeplechase
As Lily and I were making our way to the aisle during the credits, she said, in awed tones, “Wow—that was a good movie. It’s been so long since I’ve seen one that I’d forgotten what they’re like.”

It was a good movie; I might even go so far as to say a great movie. Not a perfect movie, but at least as good as (in some ways, argurably superior to) Tim Burton’s take on the World’s Greatest Detective.

(Schumacher? Pfagh! We do not speak of Nippleboy’s celluloid excretions under my roof.)

What Didn’t Work
Four Huh? Moments:
• Why would Dr. Crane show Rachel the contamination of the city’s water supply before gassing her?
• Wouldn’t it make more sense for Batman/Bruce to blindfold or hood Rachel and drop her (and the antidote!) off at Gordon’s precinct house instead of sedating her and having her tucked into her bed with the vials on her bedside table? Granted, by knocking her out we had the little comic scene with Alfred pouring her into the backseat of the Rolls under the puzzled/disapproving gaze of the catering staff, but (a) it wasn’t that funny, and (b) if Rachel hadn’t been able to deliver the drugs—if she’d overslept, or been unable to find Gordon in the Narrows, or, hell, accidentally knocked over and broken the vials while waking up—then everyone would have been well and truly screwed.
• I didn’t buy the scene in which the fear-gassed inhabitants of the Narrows mob Batman. If I were having a panic attack/psychotic break and saw a man-sized bat creature with eyes of flame, I would run away, not attack.
• The science behind the Doomsday Device was a little iffy.

As usual, I found the love story extraneous and unconvincing. Why do Hollywood films so often equate childhood friendship with adult romance? I don’t think I know anyone who has hooked up with or married someone they knew as a ten-year-old. However, I did like Rachel’s statement that the man she loved never came home.

What I found most irritating was the slighting of Mrs. Wayne. As I commented to Lily, “Apparently Bruce’s mother was a total nonentity.” She birthed an heir, got shot, and...yeah, that was pretty much it. No-one had a single thing to say about the poor woman; it was daddydaddydaddy all the way.

What Did Work
The Cast
• Kudos to Christian Bale for making every facet of his character ring true. Loved the felled-tree plummet into his morning push-ups, and the face he makes when he runs into Rachel as he’s leaving the restaurant in a terrycloth robe.
• Liam Neeson owns the charismatic-mentor-of-dubious-morals role.
• Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman stole every one of their scenes, but were gracious enough to share with Christian.
• Katie Holmes didn’t suck.
• Cillian Murphy—helloooooo Doctor! I’m pretty sure the Scarecrow was never that hot in the comics, but I am not complaining. At all. Dayum.

The Locations
• Anton Furst’s version of Gotham is still my favorite, but this one felt like a real place. The Narrows reminded me of Roosevelt Island. The contrast between Bruce’s childhood memory of the elevated train and the one Rachel rides before her mugging was a nice touch.
• I really liked this Batcave, a mix of preparation (the secret elevator accessible by a hidden door keyed to the piano) and improvisation.
• The League of Shadows had a truly excellent mountaintop lair.

The Gadgets
• I had my doubts about the new Batmobile, but all was forgiven when I realized they’d kept the afterburner. The stealth mode was adequate compensation for the lack of batwing detailing.
• Adored the scenes of Bruce raiding the applied science department’s storerooms under Lucius Fox’s amused and increasingly knowning gaze.

The Script
• So many great lines! Pretty much all the Bruce/Alfred and Bruce/Lucius exchanges, and a goodly percentage of the Bruce/Ducard scenes. The inevitable moments where the hero echoes another character’s earlier sneers and/or admonitions were managed with a minimum of cheese.
• The idea of Bruce turning up at the parole hearing of his parents’ murderer with a gun...wow. Granted, we all know there’s no way he’s going to kill Joe Chill, but I honestly believed that if Falcone hadn’t made arrangements, there was at least a 50% that Bruce would have followed through.
• As Bruce Wayne adopts the Batman identity and claims his destiny, much of his father’s legacy—the house, the elevated trains—is destroyed, leaving a mostly clean slate. Nice.
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