What do you get when you surround a tragic victim with incredible wealth, an English butler, and a friend in applied sciences?
Created in 1939, Batman has been reimagined more times than most would dare to count. From Adam West’s approachable persona in the 1966 Batman series to Kevin Conroy’s darker portrayal in his most recent endeavor, Arkham City, this character has found his way into the world’s heart.
In 2005, Director Christopher Nolan sought to bring this character back from the deep, deep grave in which George Clooney and Joel Schumacher buried him eight years earlier (I still get queasy when I recall the Bat Nipples…), and boy, does he succeed.
The first area the director triumphs in is casting. Michael Caine shines as the caring, yet understanding butler. Christian Bale evokes an abundance of sympathy in his depiction of a lost young adult and gives the audience goosebumps with the power of his awe-inspiring “Bat Voice.” And, of course, Liam Neeson is up to his old tricks: looking good kickin’ butt, especially with that Ra’s al Ghul goatee.
However, the acting is just the beginning. Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard deliver a score that is certain to force your mouth open and induce drooling while simultaneously sending butterflies from your ears to your abdomen. While this music will make you feel like you are cut out to be the Caped Crusader of your own town, the writers and editors here at Stars & Popcorn can’t legally recommend you try it.
At its heart, Nolan’s film is a coming-of-age tale mixed in with the classic theme of the Prodigal Son. Bale’s Bruce Wayne seeks to understand the criminal mind in order to combat it when he returns to his hometown of Gotham, the corrupt city where his parents were tragically murdered before him. The script focuses on Wayne’s inward journey from an emotional young man thirsting for revenge to an enlightened adult that understands the true meaning of justice: harmony.
Speaking of harmony, comic book fanboys harmoniously tend to express their dislike of their favorite heroes’ movie adaptations. For those of you that avoided the theaters when Batman Begins was released fearing that Nolan would only realize your worst nightmares, be afraid no longer! Not only is this film a must-see with Nolan’s final installment coming up in just a few months, but the filmmakers made a conscious effort to provide the fans of the character with some tasty treats. You’ll notice some familiar faces: Scarecrow and Zsasz, to name a few, and there’s even a mention of a certain Clown Prince before the credits roll. Also, Batman packed his utility belt up to the brim, and the Batmobile received quite the makeover.
Neeson could probably pull off his delivery a little better, but Batman Begins devotes itself to an ideal – justice – and attacks it in all aspects of its design. Not only does the film do justice (and then some) for the fan-favorite superhero, but it constantly forces the audience to question the concept of justice. Neeson’s Ra’ s Al Ghul provides Bruce Wayne with a doppelganger that forces the audience to consider what is necessary in the face of wrongdoing: to take revenge or to ensure future harmony.