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Thread: Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins

  1. #1
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    Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins

    Batman Begins – A film by Christopher Nolan

    The life of Bruce Wayne has fascinated many writers in the world of comic books. Several renditions have given such portraits as “Year One,” a step forward in the Batman enterprise, now owned by Time Warner, but originally a DC comic enjoyed by yours truly in my youth. That transition from 1960’s camp to “Year One” of Batman yielded the Tim Burton version, a darker, more serious Batman presented in 1989.

    Even then however, Warner Brothers didn’t want to take too many chances. They cast, of all people, Jack Nicholson to play the joker. It must have been a difficult chore for Burton to control Nicholson, a prankster on and off the set. The result was a “gothic” Batman (especially due to Danny Elfman’s score) with a bit of camp brought by Jack’s antics. The joker was murderous, but fun loving as he delivered his lines with more farce than drama. The franchise went downhill from there, getting further and further from “Year One” and slipping back toward Adam West.

    Along comes “Memento” director/editor/writer Christopher Nolan. As has been mentioned already on numerous sites, Nolan has resurrected the Batman franchise with this new look at the old story, in ways that are surprisingly unpredictable.

    ******SPOILERS*******

    For anyone who follows Batman, the story remains the same. Little Bruce Wayne is traumatized by the death of his parents. He accidentally falls into a cave and becomes afraid of Bats. There the similarity with other versions ends. Bruce Wayne then begins a journey into fear and vengeance, a journey that takes him far from Gothom City to the orient. There he is taken under the wing of Ra Al Ghul (in the comics, Al Ghul is several hundred years old, a bit of a pirate with an empire that stretches across several continents). After confronting his teacher in a duel to the death (or so we think), Wayne returns to Gothom City as a changed man wanting to become a crime fighter. Ultimately, he gains trust in others (such as his manservant, Alfred; his childhood friend, Rachael; and Wayne Industries specialist, Lucius Fox). The film’s climax is a typical battle between good and evil, and we know the rest. However, this film is presented in a way that is so fresh and so different from any other Batman, it must be considered on its own merits, thanks to one man, Christopher Nolan.

    There are many fans of Christopher Nolan in the film world and on this site. His “Memento” and follow up film, “Insomnia” gathered fans around the writer, director, producer. Now he tackles a summer blockbuster based around an established franchise. Why? The truth may lie in why Burton also wished to tackle such a project. Nolan may have wanted the large purse. Or he may have wanted the notoriety to help his career. However his script, along with story and script contributions by David Goyer (the “Blade” series) have created a complex and brooding film that examines what fear does to a person. Fear is at the core of the “Star Wars” films as well. (“I sense much fear in you… fear leads to the dark side.”) This examination of fear by filmmakers leads one down a path that borders on horror. What is it that makes us afraid, and how can we learn to understand and face our fears? That challenge is put before Bruce Wayne and becomes his motivation for becoming Batman. Not only has Chris Nolan delivered on a much needed fresh script, but he has gathered a great collection of film actors to give the film credibility.

    Next, let us look at this stellar cast… Michael Caine (two time Oscar winner); Liam Neeson (nominated for Oscar); Gary Oldman (numerous awards); Tom Wilkinson (AA nominated); Rutger Hauer (numerous); Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai); Morgan Freeman (Oscar winner); even a great cameo by Rade Serbedzija (the Russian villain in The Saint). Every one of those actors performs his part to perfection, adding to the overall experience of the film. Every single scene in the film has “moments” that build to a climax worthy of the best in the superhero genre.

    Finally, the star Christian Bale was able to pull off being the spoiled little rich kid turned crime fighter quite subtly and admirably (considering he had to do the latex suit, again!). There are several scenes where Bale’s performance shines through. Only a versatile actor can show two different sides to a coin in a way that is convincing. Bale took a delicate edge and walked it to the end. The film’s denouement is a reaffirmation that Batman Begins is only the beginning. If Nolan can be persuaded, along with a majority of the supporting cast, then a sequel is definitely in order and would be welcome by this writer.

  2. #2
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    Agreed.

    Batman Begins is great blockbuster cinema. The cast plays the parts to perfection, given a great script, and the technical elements are exemplary. I really enjoyed my two hours in the theatre.

    I'm also glad, C, that you brought up Star Wars. One finds many similar thematic links, not to mention the appearance of Liam Neeson as mentor. I couldn't help but smirk when Neeson's character says to Wayne, "Mind your surroundings." It sounded so Jedi-esque. More than this, what struck me is how well the Batman Begins story would have worked as the Star Wars prequels with the obvious distinction that in Batman Begins the central character emerges as a hero rather than a villain. Nolan, though, has you suspend your knowledge of the outcome and convinces you that Wayne is on a precipice. Moreover, a fall into darkness or Wayne's choice to get back up again are equally believable alternatives for the character. The motivation and the incentive are there for either choice.

    One last comment... Nolan employs special effects perfectly in this movie. They do not overwhelm but complement.

    All in all, Nolan and screenwriter Goyer do an excellent job here. It's too bad they weren't given the reins for the Star Wars prequels.
    http://anduril.ca/movies/

    There's a spirituality in films, even if it's not one which can supplant faith
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    Batman Begins as Political Commentary

    The League of Shadows is an organization determined to bring about its version of "moral order" and "justice" through terrorist attacks against targets it identifies as corrupt, decadent, and evil. Gotham is the ultimate target of a plan to launch a bio-chemical attack and so destroy what the League believes is the source of that corruption and evil.

    Early on in the movie, Bruce Wayne finds their message alluring and actually trains under one of its leaders. But, the moment of truth comes when he is required to decapitate a "criminal" as an initiation ritual. Justifiably finding this abhorrent, Bruce Wayne rejects the League.

    Now, standing in the way of the League's aims is this billionaire, spoiled playboy, who mobilizes his captalist empire and military industrial complex to combat the terrorists. While Gotham's own government is rife with corruption and embroiled in the very criminal enterprises that threaten its existence, Batman/Bruce Wayne acts unilaterally to thwart the plans of the League. In classic comic book style, the corrupt officials of Gotham oppose their hero Batman and even come to characterize him as a loose canon, vigilante, and a threat to the city. They are, in fact, unaware that Batman/Bruce Wayne is the only thing standing between them and their destruction at the hands of the League.

    Still, Batman/Bruce Wayne finds allies in a childhood friend and Gotham D.A. played by Katie Holmes and one good cop, Sgt. Gordon, played by Gary Oldman. With their help, Batman/Bruce Wayne succeeds in bringing down a mafia-like kingpin and ultimately thwarts the League's attempt to destroy Gotham.

    In a closing scene, now Lt. Gordon comments that Batman's actions to thwart the attacks are but one battle in a war to restore justice to Gotham. Significantly, Gordon also observes that by confronting the evil, Batman has escalated the conflict and thereby taken a grave risk. The criminals will intensify their activities and so threaten the lives of Gotham's citizens. Yet, it is clear that Batman and Gordon are committed to the mission to save Gotham from its enemies---internal and external.

    Sound familiar, anyone?
    Last edited by anduril; 06-16-2005 at 05:18 AM.
    http://anduril.ca/movies/

    There's a spirituality in films, even if it's not one which can supplant faith
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  4. #4
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    Please don't compare Batman with Star Wars

    I knew this film was gonna destroy the other Bat-films.

    It is done.

    Forget Burton, forget Schumacher. Nolan is the name to remember. His film is the Batman film for all-time.

    I cringe when I hear comparisons with Star Wars- knock it off!
    It says more about you than the films.


    Batman Begins takes it's cues from the sources that elevated Batman in his comic book career: Frank Miller's Year One, Dark Knight Returns, The Long Halloween, etc.

    By the way-as Bale said, THE LONG HALLOWEEN is one of the best artistic expressions of Batman ever put on page. Tim Sale & Jeph Leob are geniuses in the comics medium. (They are currently wrapping up a 6-issue Catwoman story called When in Rome). If you wanna get into reading comics, Loeb & Sale are in the eschelon. They know Batman and they have supreme talent.

    But to get back to the movie, it's heaven sent. I'll write good review when I've seen it a few more times.

    Bale is the perfect Batman, as I suspected, and I hope they go all the way with this series. I think Warner Bros. is the best studio ever (what with Kubrick, Looney Tunes, The Last Samurai, JFK, Malcolm X and The Matrix under it's banner) and they have done the smartest thing they could have done: re-launch the character from ground zero.

    Time has proven the Tim Burton film to be great entertainment but it does have 3 things about it that annoy:

    -Alex Knox is lame. Hard to believe they made a character based on Jimmy Olsen even LAMER than him. I do not like Robert Wuhl. It seems as if he was just hanging around the set and ended up in front of some cameras...

    -Jack is Jack. I was talking to someone just yesterday about the old sixties T.V. show and how there hasn't been a DVD release of the three seasons yet. He said no one was better as The Joker than Cesar Romero and I agree. I love Jack, but he's JACK. Great, brilliant performance, but he dominates the movie. The sequels made the villains more important than Batman- which is why the new film is the best Batman film to date.

    -the Batmobile is stupid. A big, phallus-shaped monstrosity. Bullet-proof? Big deal. The car from the old show is cooler.
    Don't get me going on Nolan's wheels- I want one! Nobody will fuck with that machine- it means business. 'nuff said.


    The reason I love the new film and just committed to it's beauty in a huge way (just watch how many times I'll see it) is that it's intelligent, it's acted with the right tone, it's sfx are exhilerating without being corny, the mythos is given primacy, Batman is the focus (not Ras or Scarecrow- who are dream villains and were played poetically by Watanabe & Murphy) and the tortured angst of Bruce Wayne is handled properly.

    Move over Bryan Singer- make room for Chris Nolan.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  5. #5
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    Oh yeah and anduril: it does sound familiar.

    What do you get out of it?

    Learn anything? or did you just smirk and scoff?
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  6. #6
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    Smirk and scoff? Why would I? When seen in that light, it's quite astonishingly a political commentary sympathetic to my views; never would have expected such out of Hollywood. As such, your questions you'd have to answer.

    As for the comparative analysis of Batman Begins and Star Wars... it's justifiable. Both movies deal in similar themes but Batman Begins does it well, Star Wars did it poorly. Comparing the movies doesn't mean that I think they are at all in the same class of film, which should be quite obvious by my take on the two films... I posted at FilmWurld a completely negative take on Star Wars and a completely positive one on Batman Begins.
    http://anduril.ca/movies/

    There's a spirituality in films, even if it's not one which can supplant faith
    Martin Scorsese

  7. #7
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    Yes, Mein Herr.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    I get a real kick out of your idiocy, Johann.

    But, on to more relevant matters, some of you might enjoy this imaginary dialogue between the Dark Knight and Darth Vader.
    http://anduril.ca/movies/

    There's a spirituality in films, even if it's not one which can supplant faith
    Martin Scorsese

  9. #9
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    Most of what I say is lost on you, so I'll thank you for calling it "idiocy"- it's a badge I'll wear with pride.






    (way better than engaging you in a debate).
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  10. #10
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    So true.
    http://anduril.ca/movies/

    There's a spirituality in films, even if it's not one which can supplant faith
    Martin Scorsese

  11. #11
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    anduril, seriously, why do you visit?

    Is it some kind of therapeutic thing for you?
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  12. #12
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    I visited to post my take on Batman Begins, which I thought was an excellent movie; just as I have visited many times before to post my thoughts on other movies.

    RE: Therapy. This is not your website Johann or your personal email address. I don't e-stalk people as you've done to me.
    http://anduril.ca/movies/

    There's a spirituality in films, even if it's not one which can supplant faith
    Martin Scorsese

  13. #13
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    I don't regard your opinion as an authority on anything, Johann. So, I will continue to post at FilmWurld on whatever whim I so feel and will keep my posts focused on the movies as I attempted to do here until I allowed you to distract me.

    To the other folks reading, I sincerely apologize that I allowed myself to be hijacked into responding to Johann's personal squabbles.
    http://anduril.ca/movies/

    There's a spirituality in films, even if it's not one which can supplant faith
    Martin Scorsese

  14. #14
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    anduril makes me out to be a terrorist, "hijaking" him.

    What a joke. I've been posting here for a while- almost 3 years.
    People should know my idiosyncratic ways by now.

    I'm harmless, a devout cinephile.
    In case you forgot I invited you anduril.
    There are lots of film sites on the net- surely you can find one that falls more in line with your intelligence and myopic world-view?
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  15. #15
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    If I can just bump in here...

    I don't have much time to post, as I'm going to go see Batman for the second time. There's so much to say about Batman Begins that I can't in this short time. All I can say is that you need to get up and see it. Now.
    "So I'm a heel, so what of it?"
    --Renaldo the Heel, from Crimewave

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