Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Real Batman Has Finally Shown Up

I've been waiting since 1989 for this movie. All four movies are now null and void. Sure Burton has got style and has one of the best imaginations in la la land. Now for the BUT. He works strongest on his own material. He should have said NO to Batman. If Batman Begins came first followed by Burton’s (good but not great) Batman no debates would be happening. Batman Begins is brilliant from open to close. It is the best comic book movie to date.

I have collected Batman comics and Batman Begins is a collectors movie with enough smarts and style to make the average Joe and Jane enjoy it. But this is the Batman movie we have been waiting for.

Keaton had fake hair and what was that attempt at a scowl when it looked more like Ben Stiller’s pouting pursed mouth in the barely viewable Zoolander. (Though on MJ it is kinda sorta funny.) Val was too pretty. Clooney? Nuff said. But we have to really blame Mr Schumacher for all that.

Though this movie is filled with A-List stars they are not superstars. They are actors playing characters; you believe they are who they are playing. I will not waste any of my life recounting the parade of superstars from Jack to Ahhnuld who were one after another a big distraction from the main character. In all other Batman movies Bruce Wayne/Batman was a supporting character to these superstars chewing the comic scenery. The strength of this movie is it is a Bruce Wayne/Batman movie and the villains are second. That is what we fans wanted all along.

All the actors are superb. And hey its Morgan Freeman. The man finds the right note and plays a small support with the perfect pitch of humour. (With a U, I'm Canadian.) It was nice to see Gary Oldman in a movie where his teeth marks are not over all the sets. He was a man trying to hang on to his idealism in a world where none was to be found. Michael Caine captured the dry wit of Alfred that is in the books. He is the man who roots Bruce in reality with love, devotion, and a kick-ass sarcasm. Cillain is creepily wonderful. Neeson is a splendid mentor/villain.

I will let the filmmakers away with not doing the Batman's eyes the way they are in the comic books. At least they pulled the mask in close to the eyes so the silly black makeup around the eyes is not as much of a sore thumb as previously. (Where does he find the time to put that on and take it off?)

Though none of the things in this movie could happen for real they place enough of it in respectable fuzzy science for us to suspend our disbelief. Not once could I do that in the other films.

Bob Kane did not create Batman to be “cartoony”. He is suppose to scare the bejeebus out of you. And in this movie he does. I was concerned that the scarecrow would be a weak villain but the hallucinogen angle allowed for effects that are driving the story and not a gimmick. It gave Batman Begins a nightmare quality. This movie is for adults. Leave the kiddies home.

Nolan’s direction was well done. Let's face it, M. Night made a brilliant movie with The Sixth Sense, Nolan made a brilliant Memento. I think it is impossibly naive to constantly judge new work by what happened in the past. There will not be another The Sixth Sense nor another Memento. But Batman Begins judged as a self-contained entity works on many levels. I really cared about THIS Batman.

The reason Batman works is because unlike all the other Superheroes he has no super powers. He is a man. And deep down we all feel that with the right training, motivation, and bank account we could become that man. He is a human being doing super human things. This movie works because we meet the human being and empathise with him. Batman does not show up until the second act. But we are happy to be watching Bruce Wayne slowly become him.

Brilliant, bloody brilliant!

5 Bats out of 5.