This post includes loads of references and spoilers for the new Batman movie Batman Begins. I don’t know that I give away anything that isn’t a bit obvious, but still… I’d hate to giveaway the fact that it turns out that Batman was dead for the whole time, and it was his ghost in the rest of the movie.
Now, this doesn’t take the form of a polished review, I haven’t editied or copy-checked or anything, this is really little more than a stream of conciousness ‘my thoughts on this’ format, so don’t expect more than that.
So, we went and saw Batman Begins, we caught a screening on opening day at the megascreen – we figured, hell, we had fun watching one of the Matrix sequels there, and the price is the same as seeing it at any pissy little normal cinema, so why not?
Bloody nice big screen, I thought the sound level was set a touch too loud, not quite to the point of peaking, it was just a little uncomfortable – still, it was nice and visceral to have some of the sound effects really getting in there and shaking the seating. Oh, and we made sure to be quite far back (it sucks being too close to the screen, having to look left and right to see things) 3rd row from back, in fact, which was pretty much ideal, maybe 4 or 5 seats closer to the centre would have been perfect, but I didn’t book our tickets very far in advance, so can’t complain about being in as good a spot as we got.
— Spoilers Begin —
I really enjoyed the movie, I liked the way they explained a few things which I wanted to know about, for example the stupid ears on the cowl were from the opera he was scared of when he was a child, the blades on his forearms from his ‘nija’ training, etc.
Speaking of the cowl, it was great to have little features and background trivia, like the mention of manufacturing faults in the cowls, and having to order so many thousands of them to avoid suspicion, and outsourcing distributed manufacturing around various companies in different countries. It was a really nice, realistic touch — you know, for a super hero movie.
I think Bale was great as Bruce Wayne, though I didn’t like it quite so much when he forced that throaty voice whenever out in his guise of Batman. Indeed, I think they did a great job with the whole cast, I thought Morgan Freeman was a real stand out, but he has such screen presence that’s really a given, his character was exactly who was needed to explain how Bruce gets his high-tech toys. It was nice having some very quick back story on him as well, gave him motivation (and obvious forshadowing for his later takeover), being shunted down to the storehouse, then being fired off in a very convenient (timely) manner. I also thought Michael Caine did a great job, and he has a lot more potential for arse kicking than the frail older guy they had previously. Have you seen Get Carter? Yeah, like that.
I didn’t understand what Bruce was doing when he was playing with the memory material making it into claws – they obviously didn’t use it later on in any fights or anything, so perhaps it’s forshadowing for use in a sequel. But it was a stupid idea anyway, when the claws weren’t in use, they dangled from his fingers like meter long pieces of string, which doesn’t sound very useful to me… Sounds like they’d just get tangled around things and be annoying.
I thought the Batmobile was (forgive me) RAD! But it was also involved in my least favourite event in the movie, the destruction of the monorail – that was stupid, did you see how big those towers were? How many people do you think were killed by the wreckage? It was just an outrageously stupid scene which simply didn’t gel the the (realtive) realism, perhaps that’s not the right word, maybe believability? of the rest of the movie. Internal consistency is completely vital when dealing with superheroes.
Speaking of the monorail, I thought the city design for Gotham was great, it was clearly such a sprawling metropolis, but with real looking buildings, real pollution, and a literal undercity. I didn’t like the deco (or whatever) styling that was given to the earlier movies, and I’m glad they reset that aspect of it. I’m expecting that they’ll use the monorail as part of the symbolism of the cities improvement, they obviously had the monorail as a shiney lovely thing when Thomas Wayne was still around, and how decrepit and graffito’d/vandalised it had become, so expect it to look nice again in the later movies. (I’m assuming it’ll be repaired following the Batmobile attack, that seemed to only effect a few spans.)
Oh, and that’s another thing, how the fucking hell did Batman manage to stay dangling on his cable underneath the monorail? His monofilament would have had to be magically passing through numerous solid supporting structures, but he just hung on, as if nothing was happening. If they were going to have him do that, they should have either made the carriage dangle from a rail above, or find some other way for him to hold on that didn’t involve magic.
Actually, that grapnel gun was the source of one of my other quibbles, at one point (I think it was right after he was set alight) he seemed to attach it to thin air, fired it straight up, or at least it seemed that way. I didn’t like that. Just have a fucking girder, for bullies sake. Perhaps if I watch the movie again some time it’ll be obvious that I missed something, but it didn’t seem like it on first viewing.
Last big quibble before finishing on a couple more positives – the psychoactive substance in the water, it needed to be inhaled through the lungs, sure is lucky no-one ever has steamy showers or makes coffee or shaves or washes their hands in the city, huh? Now, as the inhabitants of Gotham clearly do do those things, why wasn’t the city already chocka with nutsos?
It was nice to have Gordon in there in his pre-commissioner days, obviously he’ll be slowly climbing the ranks and helping Batman gradually clear up the worst of the corruption in the city until he’s finally a straight and reliable commissioner running things and being nice and sympathetic to our mate in a cowl, probably with an asshole mayor or unsympathetic press (maybe an opportunity for an ideally very brief appearance of Vikki Vale) or something like that.
I also liked the way they included the evil villain (Scarecrow) as a scary but non-campy, non-comical, psychopathic nut-job. He seemed to have motivation and at least a little bit of depth. And I loved it when he was shrieking like a girl after getting tazered in the face, that was awesome. I hope they manage to do something similar with The Joker when (it opened number 1 in the box office in the U.S., and seems to be going strong, so unless Bale isn’t in to it, surely they’ll have to make several?) they make the sequel, I don’t want to see a capering giggling clownfaced guy, I want to see a completely psychopathic brutal criminal. He can have a lunatic grin, sure, but I’d prefer he not have the big red clown lips – please?