Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight: Film Ignorance Guest Blogger #2: Batman Begins

I've decided to devote this entire week to The Dark Knight - that's why there was no Western Star of the Week yesterday. It's a countdown between my review and this Friday, when I'm going to see the film again, in IMAX, again.

You can imagine my joy when Dreamrot of 7 Dollar Popcorn asked if I could use a Film Ignorance entry on Batman Begins. Boy, could I ever. Here it is, kicking off A Week of the Dark Knight: Guest Film Ignorance #2, Batman Begins:

Film: Batman Begins
Rating: A Good Movie
Director: Christopher Nolan
The Best Cast Ever Assembled
Year: 2005

Ignorance Rating: 90/100 (22 Votes)

I'm not sure if you've noticed or not, but it seems like the interweb is abuzz with excitement over a recently released movie. Bloggers, movie fans, comic book aficionados and, according to at least one 7dp commenter, even grandmothers are in a tizzy over the release of The Dark Knight, aka the new Batman movie.

Conversely, here at $7 Popcorn Industries, Inc, LLC...there's been nary a word. In fact, the only mention of it here prior to today was to comment upon how indifferent I was about it! And do you know why? I'm not a big Batman fan, that's why. The Tim Burton Batman and it's sequels did very little for me. I liked the first one enough, but found the sequels to be, simply put, shitty. As a result, I never watched Batman Begins, and it's hard to get excited about a sequel to a movie you never saw.

Well, never saw until now. That's right. After 3 years, I finally watched Christopher Nolan's franchise reboot, Batman Begins. Like I said, I'm not a huge caped crusader fan. I find the concept of a man in a mask, fighting crime kind of silly. I mean, who does that?

Bruce Wayne does that. So, the question is, who does Bruce Wayne think he is?

As a young boy, he watched his parents get shot on the street. He grew up feeling guilty and angry. And, when the chance came for him to get his revenge, the opportunity was denied him. His parents' murderer was gunned down by someone else. A woman hired by Gotham's crime lord, Carmine Falcone. Falcone, to Bruce, epitomizes the seedy underbelly of Gotham City. He knows everyone's price and has paid it. No one would willingly go up against him. As Sgt. Gordon says 'there's no one to rat to', Falcone has paid them all off.

Disgusted, Wayne leaves Gotham, ending up in an Asian prison, it's here that he is given the offer to train under Ra's Al Ghul, head of the League of Shadows. Wayne is too compassionate though. And in a show of compassion, he kills a number of the league's members and burns down their base. All of this because he couldn't kill a murderer. It's complicated, but I guess it's what makes Batman a good guy.

So, Bruce returns to Gotham City and becomes Batman. Fighting crime and trying to turn the city around. In his way though are a corrupt police force, a doctor who works to instill fear in people and his former teacher. And in all of this, he must work not to lose himself.

I really hoped that I wouldn't like Batman Begins. I didn't want to like it. I wanted to hate it the way a good friend of mine does, a friend who's taste in movies I typically trust, but now I need to ask him what it was that he didn't like. Sure, the whole premise is a little goofy, but no goofier than any other comic book movie. Batman was never bitten by a radioactive spider or born with the ability to read minds. Batman's power is from training and some high tech gadgets. Batman is more human than any other super hero, really. He's more like the Punisher than Superman.

The casting was fantastic. Rutger Hauer, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson...all perfectly cast. Cillian Murphy didn't really work for me, and I'm not a huge Katie Holmes fan, but for the most part the casting was terrific. And, truthfully, Christopher Nolan's decision to go in a darker, more 'realistic' direction really pays off. There isn't a lot of joking around. Batman's business is dead serious. Most of the lighter moments come from Bruce Wayne, Batman doesn't have time for many silly one liners.

Is Batman Begins a great movie, destined to become a classic? No, probably not. It is, however, a good movie and a fun movie. As Batman movies go, it's one of the best. I guess this means that I am now ready to see The Dark Knight. Maybe this time I won't wait three years.

Batman Begins gets 8 million dollars worth of damage to the city to save one person's life out of 10.

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