Sunday, May 06, 2007

Review of Batman Begins

Whatever you think of Batman Begins, you kind of have to give more credit to X-Men and Spiderman for getting it right the first time. The execs at Warner Brothers have changed their minds over what they want to do with this superhero franchise of theirs that they go and retool it every two movies.

So it’s kind of disorienting watching this one, in ways good and bad. For one, I feel a little disappointed in the batmobile: it’s more like a bat tank. Mainly, though, the story’s a lot more complicated with its humongous cast of characters. If I didn’t know any better, I’d guess there’s a rule that anyone who’s ever been nominated for an Oscar gets a coupon for a free role in a Batman movie that everyone’s cashing in on (if you want to know the exact stats, which I hope you do because I spent 10 minutes researching this, 5 actors in this movie have earned 12 oscar nominations between them), and they had to try extra hard to find parts for everyone., which led to some characters who just didn’t need to be there.

Like Morgan Freeman, for example, is a scientist who designs Batman’s gadgets. I love Morgan Freeman but what exactly is he doing there? Doesn’t Q belong with James Bond? Also, who’s the real villain? Aside from making the story confusing, I think part of the fun of Batman is that you have this whacked hero dressed up as a bat and then you have even wackier villains with themes of their own, like a guy who dresses like a Penguin or the Riddler. With the exception of the Scarecrow, this movie doesn’t really have that here. Unfortunately, I didn’t really see the scarecrow that much, anyway. I think the reason for adding someone like crime boss Carmone Falcone was to show us how bad of a place Gotham is. Now Tim Burton didn’t ever need to resort to that. He created such a dark tone that he could show us what Gotham just by showing us a frame of it. I will add, though, that most people who see this movie will probably agree that Commisioner Gordon and Alfred are both two really strong characters in this movie and they add a lot, unlike the other movies where they kind of stand around and look like idiots next to Batman.

So, as I say, the story’s different but as it stands on its own, it really works well. It had the same piecing-together-of-the-puzzle element that the Star Wars III prequels had, which is real cool. If you’ve watched any Batman TV episode or watched any Batman movie, then you can’t help but be intrigued by a movie that answers the questions, where did Batman get the idea for Batman, how did he get the batmobile or the batcave, where did he learn to fight?, etc.

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