Friday, June 17, 2005

Batman Begins

Ten reasons why 'Batman Begins' is the best of all the Batman Movies (In no particular order)

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't in it.
2. I can actually buy Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne. (Sorry Keaton, you were much to one-sided, Clooney-too short, Kilmer-too pussy....There's no crying in Batman.)
3. Gotham doesn't look like a perma-frost wasteland (Burton), Nor a Las Vegas casino (Schumacker). It achieved a feel for Gotham that made it seem like it's own living-breathing character. Though comics and movies can't always have a 100% translation, the comic books provided a very good template for gotham on which to work from; Burton and Schumacker ignored it. They treated the city and the characters as if their original substance meant nothing, as if what made them good comic book characters (and settings) meant absolutely nothing to the big screen.
4. The story was actually about Batman. In the first 4 Batman movies, the stories were about zany villains and Batman figuring out the best way to beat 'em up. In 'Batman Begins', Ra's Ah-Guhl was infused in the story of Batman's origin, that progressed into a story about Bruce Wayne finding a way to save his city.
5. No unnecessary villains (for the sake of cramming in as much crap as possible). In Batman Begins, there are actually 3 villains, and yet their stories are intertwined (Not just "Lets join forces to kill the bat").
6. Doesn't rely on a corny love story to tell a personal story about Bruce Wayne; Yes we get it, it's hard to have a love life and be Batman at the same time, (or in the case of Batman and Robin, a corny story about Alfred dying meant to squeeze a tear from my eye). Yes, Katie Holmes is in it, and there is some attraction between her and Bruce Wayne, but her character is mostly there to connect Batman with the city's legal community(She plays an A.D.A).
7. No ridiculous Batman "Theme" music. It was scored appropriately to fit the mood, not to let us know when Batman (or the Riddler, or Mr. Freeze) is on the screen.
8. No chest-armor nipples (at least that I could see).
9. Gags kept to a minimum. (Although I disliked Gordon saying "I gotta get me one of those" in reference to this movie's "bat"-mobile; which by the way is nothing more than a suped up streamlined futuristic army tank painted black)
10. Takes a more in-depth look at Bruce Wayne's family, which of course, is the driving force behind his character. Earlier films glossed over this (at best) in favor of more outlandish action sequences.

All these things are not to say that I hated previous batman movies, in fact, when it came out, batman forever had been my favorite to date. Mind you, I was 12 at the time, and was 8 when Tim Burtons first Batman was released. I'm almost happy for the 8 year gap from the last movie in order that I may take a more mature look at the current film and the franchise as a whole. I suspect that 1989 was too early of a time in cinematic development (special effects, filmographic techniques, what-have-you) for a batman movie. And though no disrespect to fans of the original Superman series of movies, I feel it was too early for those as well. Up until recently, directors have taken too many liberties with comic book characters, changing or ignoring core elements of the characters that made them popular in the first place. I don't even feel this was intentional, just a side-effect of the immaturity of the super-hero movie genre. Though I hate to admit it (because I'm not a huge huge fan...) Sam Raimi's Spider-Man was what raised the bar. I feel it was the first super-hero flick to understand that it was the character, not the costume, that made the comics popular.

While I'm writing about Batman, I should probably mention another Brilliant movie that came out recently; Layer Cake. I would write an in-depth review on it, but frankly, I wasn't able to fallow everything that happened. It's going to take a second viewing for me.

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