I saw "Batman Begins" this weekend. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the first Batman with Michael Keaton (1989). This movie focuses more on story than we've seen in the past and Christian Bale makes a good Bruce Wayne. I particularly liked the scenes where Bruce Wayne has to pretend he is a carefree, reckless playboy in high society - makes me think how great it would be if Paris Hilton was really moonlighting as a crime-fighting superheroine trained in the martial arts and with an IQ of 200.

About the only thing I truly disliked was the gratuitous car chase scenes (shot in downtown Chicago, looks like). It's just obvious that someone thought "oh, we have to have a huge expensive car scene so that we can show off Batman's new car". To be honest, I've always been interested in the darker, edgier, heroic, tragic aspects of the Batman story. I rarely get geeked about all his high-tech gadgets.

After having a couple days to mull it over in my mind, I was surprised that I didn't mind having three or four different villainous characters in this movie. However I think characters like the crime boss Carmine Falcone or Dr. Jonathan Crane could have taken center stage here, they were strong enough characters as portrayed. Maybe I didn't mind because none of the villains were cheesy, over-the-top costumed villains like Jim Carrey's Riddler or Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze in the latter Joel Schumaker debacles, and the villains were integrated in ways that were surprisingly natural. To steal a word from Roger Ebert's review: the characters lack "gloss", and that's a good thing.

I do think it's a shame that they were not able to adapt Frank Miller's excellent 4-part series "Batman: Year One" into a movie. That story plays like a movie should with drama, intrigue, heroics, romance and tragedy. However, it is interesting that "Batman Begins" has a few traces unique to Year One's story: Carmine Falcone, Jim Gordon's partner "Flass", Batman summoning his "backup" when trapped in a building, and the final scene (very much lifted out of the comic book). I wonder if someone just took the working script of Batman: Year One and said: "we need more villains, we need a love interest for Batman and we need to focus WAY more on Batman/Bruce Wayne instead of Jim Gordon". Overall, I'm pleased with the way "Begins" turned out, but I think a faithful adaptation of "Year One" would have also surprised people (including those critics who were already surprised).

§131 · August 2, 2005 · Batman, Comic Books, Entertainment, Movies · · [Print]

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