Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
Fear and Anxiety… What does the Bible say? Answer
Why is the world the way it is—filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty? Answer
Is there hope? Answer
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman and Robin (1997)
|Featuring||Christian Bale, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes|
|Producer||Emma Thomas, Charles Roven, Albert Berger|
I suppose the reason I have always liked Batman over all the other superheroes is because he is just a regular guy who doesn’t actually have any real superpowers. He wasn’t born with the ability to fly, wasn’t bitten by some freakish bug or animal and given web-slinging super skills; he’s a rich guy with fancy toys who loves his city and loves even more to see those who aim to harm his city punished. Sure, he may be a bit of a vigilante, but nobody’s perfect.
Since 1989, we’ve seen the Dark Knight in action on the Silver Screen four times. The first succeeded with its campy comic mayhem and wildly over-the-top Joker; the second (and best of the four) worked its dark brand of humor the way only director Tim Burton could manage. The third had an interesting, high-energy cast that held our attention, but the fourth was so unbelievably bad that it appeared the Batman franchise may have been on its last leg.
Yet, even though the four films were all different variations and styles of the Caped Crusader’s adventures, none of them ever quite seemed to ring true and capture the essence of the central character. So, as I walked into the theater for the fifth Batman, “Batman Begins”, I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, the filmmakers would have gotten it right and given us the Batman we fans have been waiting for. And boy did they ever.
When we first see Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale (“American Psycho”) he is being attacked by prisoners, and then doing the attacking in the trenches of an Asian prison. Wayne is there to study the criminal mind, and meets Henri Ducard, played by Liam Neeson (“Kinsey”), a member of the League of Shadows who promises to train Bruce in martial arts and mind control to be the warrior he appears destined to become. But when Wayne is commanded to kill a criminal to show his allegiance to the League of Shadows and to its leader Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe of “The Last Samurai”), he declines and attacks the members of the room instead, severely injuring Ducard and leaving Al Ghul for dead.
He returns home to Gotham City, to Wayne Enterprises, the company left to him after his parents were murdered when Bruce was a child. The memory of their deaths haunts him, and the anger he feels towards the killer has possessed him for most of his life. That anger fuels his desire to rid the city of its criminal underworld, and he shares his new plan with his childhood friend/sweetheart Rachel Dawes (Katie Homes of “Pieces of April”) who then chastises Bruce and reminds him that there is a big difference between anger-driven revenge and justice.
He knows that in order to strike fear into the hearts of the underworld, he needs to become a symbol, something they don’t know and will instinctively be afraid of. For this, he confronts his lifelong fear of bats, and uses them as his inspiration. With the help of Wayne Enterprises’ scientist Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman of “Million Dollar Baby”), he gets some cool gadgets, weapons, and costume material to use to create Batman.
He sets his sights first on Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson of “In the Bedroom”), a local crime boss smuggling drugs and bullying or buying-off most members of the local criminal and judicial forces. Working alongside Falcone is Dr. Crane (Cillian Murphy of “28 Days Later”), a psychiatrist whose criminal patients all seem to be going crazy under his supervision, paralyzed by a fear of something they call “Scarecrow.”
We learn that Crane is working for someone far more powerful overseas, and their plan is to do something terrible to Gotham’s water supply and destroy the population. So, Batman, with the help of Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman of “The Fifth Element”) sets out to stop Falcone, Crane, and their mysterious boss before Batman’s beloved city is annihilated.
There is little objectionable content in “Batman Begins”. There are a few bad words (one use of God**** and a**hole) and a few profane uses of God’s name. There is no sexual content or innuendos worth noting. The film is obviously very heavy in violent content, plenty of fights, beatings, shootings, and bomb blasts. What makes this film very inappropriate for children, however, are some genuinely frightening scenes of people seeing the things they fear most, after Dr. Crane gases them with a chemical that unleashes their worst fears upon them. Some of these scenes appear almost demonic, and while the scenes don’t necessarily contain any objectionable content per say, they make the film a must-not-see for children and impressionable or easily frightened teens.
The film is very dark and grim, without the humor that went along with the darkness of “Batman Returns”. This is a serious, grown-up version of Batman that parents need to exercise serious caution before letting their children see. And finally, there is a line that may offend some. While Batman is “interrogating” a man by slinging him over a railing, the frightened man answers Batman’s question by saying “I swear to God” to which Batman angrily roars back “Swear to ME!” Whether or not he is implying he is superior to God or feels he is almost God-like I don’t know, but it is worth mentioning nonetheless.
“Batman Begins” blew me away from start to finish and kept me glued to my seat for its almost two-and-a-half hour running time. It is a far darker film than its predecessors, and one of much more consequence. It features astounding action sequences expertly directed by Christopher Nolan (“Memento”) and a smart, grown-up script and storyline by David Goyer (“Dark City”). Of course, it also contains an amazing cast, led by Bale’s flawless performance. And yes, in my opinion it finally gets the central character of Batman correct. This version of Bruce Wayne/Batman isn’t some perfect, all knowing and wise crime fighter. He is a headstrong kid with ideals who makes mistakes, sometimes acts before he thinks, but ultimately gains enough experience to just barely save his city. Let’s hope this is one Batman we adults will be able to enjoy for at least a few more movies.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.