Topic: "Batman Begins" Review by Darth Praxus [Spoilers]
Note: This review is pretty much spontaneous keyboard-mashing with no preplanned structure, and is honestly the first full length film review I've written, so all apologies if it rambles a bit.
I, like much of the world, cheated and watched The Dark Knight by itself without having seen Batman Begins first. I was by no means a huge fan of the Caped Crusader—I went for the Joker. The topic of how amazing TDK is has already been covered by four much better men than me, so let me just say I was blown away by the film—I hate superhero films, and loved this one, which I still maintain is a crime drama with a couple fantastical elements.
However, in preparation for The Dark Knight Rises, I figured it was time I saw how Batman became, well, Batman. So I went out to Target, bought the DVD, and popped it in.
Mixed feelings, I have to say.
Storyline, Script and Such:
I can't help wishing now that I'd seen Begins before I'd seen TDK so that I wouldn't be comparing the two in my head throughout the viewing of the former. As it is, I kinda agree with Brian's opinion of the film on the TDK commentary—it's like the Phantom Menace of the franchise. Not in its quality, by any means, but in that none of it was really necessary for the rest of the series. As Trey noted, this is Nolan's only film that remotely resembles a Hero's Journey, but even then, Bruce Wayne is already three quarters-Batman in the beginning of the film. It would have been more interesting if Bruce's arc were more pronounced, but as it is, we spend the entire first half of the film waiting for him to become Batman already, dammit. I will give the film a large amount of credit for actually being a Batman film that is about Batman, something that is sadly very rarely seen; Ebert was so happy about this factor that he gave the film 4 stars of 4.
I felt that the underlying theme of fear was rather heavyhanded in its execution. Not that TDK was by any means subtle in its exploration of chaos and such, but it felt more natural in that film, maybe because of Ledger's phenomenal performance. Maybe this one is just me, but I felt the film could've explored the idea better.
The film's conclusion came far too easily for me. For starters, Rachel's disposal of Scarecrow really irritates me. Crane has been a total badass for most of his time in the film so far. However, when he actually becomes Scarecrow, he gets wiped out by a tazer shot and rides off wailing like a ninny. It felt as if Nolan couldn't figure out a way to work the character into the film's conclusion and had to come up with an easy way of getting rid of him. Batman's disposal of Ra's al Ghul irks me to no end. Bruce knows damn well that not saving Ra's is the same is killing him, and yet his moral code differentiates between the two. I guess Batman can kill—when it's convenient for him. Oh, and then there's the matter of the fear toxin. Even though the train didn't make it to Wayne Tower, it still managed to unleash the toxin on thousands of Gotham's inhabitants. Yet we never are told what the result of that mass hysteria was, whether an antidote has been provided to the public, or what.
I felt that the dialogue stood up perfectly well, and enjoyed that the film's sense of humor was more pronounced than that of TDK. However, I would have rewritten much of Thomas Wayne's dialogue; in the train ride scene especially, he's spouting blatant as-you-know dialogue that really took me out of the scene.
Most of the acting in this film ranges from perfectly competent to excellent. I felt that Bale did a much better job as Batman in this first installment than he did in TDK—probably because Batman was actually the main character of this film. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman were all excellent in their roles as Bruce's friends and confidants. Liam Neeson is by no means amazing as Ra's al Ghul, but still plays the role just fine, and Cillian Murphy is great for as long as Dr. Crane is not Scarecrow. The only flies in the proverbial ointment are Rachel Dawes and Thomas Wayne. I have never been a Katie Holmes fan, and she felt incredibly flat in her performance here. The fact that she looks twelve doesn't help matters any. Maggie Gyllenhal did a much better job in TDK—pity she didn't get the chance to reprise the role. I don't know who played Thomas Wayne, but his delivery felt very stiff and awkward to me.
Effects, Battles and Whatnot:
The movie's special effects stand up for the most part; there are a couple shots during the final train battle that are clearly CGI, but most of the rest of the animation works well. The Tumbler scenes are amazing. Fight choreography...meh. Nolan has a problem with using really quick cuts that make it very hard to see what's going on, a problem that was bettered but not solved in TDK.
Very brown, which is a bit jarring after TDK's blueness. I like the look, though, for the most part; it feels dirty and noir-y.
Overall, Begins is a perfectly competent film that has inevitably been overshadowed by its fantastic sequel. As I said, I wish I could have watched the film and seen it on its own merit, with nothing to compare it to; as is, I couldn't help but hold it up to TDK and find it wanting. Is it a film I will rewatch? Probably not, unless I splurge and go see the whole trilogy in Imax with my girlfriend later this month. It can be fun, there are parts that are intriguing, and it has the novelty of being an actual Batman story; nevertheless, my overall response can be summed up as: "Meh."
Last edited by Darth Praxus (2012-07-15 02:57:16)