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‘Batman Begins’ Film Review: A great beginning for the Dark Knight

This “Batman” film goes back to the roots of the character — portraying a confused and angry Bruce Wayne who rises to redeem himself and defend Gotham.

”Batman Begins” explores the origins of Bruce Wayne’s (Christian Bale) emergence as Batman and brings back the essence of what drives him to be who he is.

Human emotions as love, fear and anger begin a new face for the Dark Knight as a cinematic and yet realistic film. This makes his character more human than the rest of the “Batman” films of the past. This time, the film justifies the idea that Batman is still “just a man” under the black costume, still has his vulnerable side, gets bruises, feels pain — not just any superhero without a decent human past to show.

Director Christopher Nolan bases this film in reality and makes it focus on Bruce Wayne’s descent into the masked crusader. It focuses on the back story of the young, disillusioned Wayne who gets the trauma of his parent’s death, to his revenge and fear-stricken years of training at the Asian prison and the League of Shadows, to his immersion to the nasty crime and poverty scenes of Gotham, until his final preparations to become the soon-to-be legend Batman.

Fear as a universal emotion that is one of the hardest to conquer evolves along with Bruce Wayne’s character in the story. Vengeance contributes to the dark and emotional side of it. And along with the anger, thirst for justice and struggle from various crime and poverty problems, these negative forces turn up as challenges for him to become the hero he is about to be born.

The story introduces the whys and hows this time, not just making the Bat mobile suddenly pop out of nowhere without knowing its ultimate source. Its technology may be fantastic and really ambitious, but it’s believable enough still… who knows, such might be possible in a few decades time or so. There is that emotional bond between him and Alfred (Michael Caine), his trusty butler. A former friend of his father, the tech genius Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), becomes the answer to his “techie” needs to be the savior of Gotham, the city under the weight of great corruption and crime. He acquires his body armor, gadgets and equipment to make him fly like a mysterious, scary bat around the streets of Gotham from him.

The firm, authoritative, imposing and naive Ducard (Liam Neeson) recruits Wayne to the shadow-ninja clan led by Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe). A man driven by anger, he mentors Wayne with thoughts including: “Your anger gives you great power, but if you let it, it will destroy you;” “To conquer fear you must become fear;” and “Devote yourself to an ideal.” The training strengthens Wayne physically, emotionally, intellectually and psychologically, and he gets into his senses and builds up his own individualistic philosophies, which becomes far from what the clan tells him so – he readily matures and realizes it is time to go back to Gotham and defend it from its own menaces, along with Ducard’s group.

Batman`s first mad nemesis, the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), has that great charisma on screen. Wayne also makes a connection with the young Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), one of the only straight cops in the city. Katie Holmes looks like a teenager playing grown-up. The problem is not merely with her overall performance, but simply because she looks like a teeny-bopper movie actress still while portraying the role. Ironically, the poor character aging for Alfred is another problem then. Since the death of Wayne’s parents to Wayne as a full-fledged Dark Knight, there is no much change on his physical appearance, same old, responsible and concerned butler and friend to the Waynes.

The action-packed scenes start from the middle as Batman has finally been born. But the fight scenes aren’t too well choreographed, or maybe it’s not just with the choreography.

“Batman Begins” (which still retains that comic book mood and is still filled with a myriad of gadgets and movements) does not fall prey into using too much effects to come up with great visuals, but it provides great attention to the questions about the emergence of caped crusader. The character’s vulnerability is much more present. Every bruise, every scare, every concern… each one seems real and human.

This film is one classic “Batman.”

Rianne Hill I. Soriano
Rianne Hill Soriano is a freelance production artist working as a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions.

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