Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer(s): Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer
Studio: Legendary Pictures, DC Comics
Genre(s): Action/Adventure, Superhero, Drama
Running Time: 141 Minutes
Release Date: June 15, 2005
Rated: PG-13 for intense action violence, disturbing images and some thematic elements
Batman Begins is the story of Bruce Wayne, the tragic events of his childhood, his exile from Gotham City, and his return as Batman. The story follows Bruce as an adult in exile overseas, and splices in the back story of his childhood which would effect him forever. While in Asia, Bruce is discovered and mentored by a man named Henri Ducard, a member of the League of Shadows, a clan of skilled ninjas whose only mission is to maintain the balance of the world’s power, and to destroy any empire that grows too corrupt for its own good. Bruce learns that Gotham is next on their list and escapes to return to Gotham to not only fight crime, but to stop Gotham from falling pray to the League of Shadows. Bruce goes on to adopt the bat as a persona to strike fear into the hearts of Gotham’s criminals, only to land right in the middle of the League of Shadows plans to destroy Gotham with the help of a psychopathic psychiatrist with a dark persona known as The Scarecrow.
Batman Begins was a huge step for the tattered and beat up Batman franchise. Before this film, Batman as a franchise was near death thanks to the campy tone of “Batman Forever” and the awful “Batman and Robin” catastrophe. Thankfully Christopher Nolan came to the rescue and created his own image of Batman, taken from the darker stories in the Batman world, where realism was key and the past Batman movies never happened. No longer does Gotham Look like some weird fusion of today and the 1940s, and certainly not a neon light ridden rave. Nolan was able to take fictional comic characters and adapt them to reality to avoid any campiness. All of the key elements of the Batman story are there, his wealth, his fear of bats, and his parents tragic death that drove him to become the Dark Knight. What Nolan was able to do is actually explain where Batman got his fighting skills, and his toys, something fans who are not familiar with the comics had always wondered.
Nolan was smart in his casting as Christian Bale plays the perfect Batman, Liam Neeson was a solid and seasoned choice to play Batman’s teacher/enemy Ra’s al Ghul, and the unforeseen gem of an enemy, The Scarecrow played by Cillian Murphy. Adding to the main players are a star studded secondary cast of Michael Cain, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Katie Holmes (She should punch Tom Cruise for talking her out of the sequel, and advising her to star in “Mad Money” instead). The great thing about the characters is that they in no way feel comic book related. I originally had fears about Scarecrow, as I wondered how they would pull that off without being campy, but they did it with flying colors.
The story is basic, and establishes a strong foundation for the future movies, the action is well done, and the ending left everyone clamoring to find out just what actor could possibly pull off the next movies iconic villain, little did we know just how wonderful it would be.