Batman Begins Review
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After the debacle with George Clooney trying to be Batman, fans of the movie and comics wondered if Warner Brothers would ever make another film featuring the Caped Crusader. We finally got the answer to that with 2005’s Batman Begins—and it was worth the eight-year wait.

This time writer David Goyer and director Christopher Nolan did their homework and brought Batman fans a movie to be proud of. There are some changes to the original story, but that’s to be expected. The changes are noticeable but believable, and they stay true to what makes our hero so different and special.

A young Bruce Wayne witnesses his parents being gunned down by a two-bit criminal. He swears revenge on the entirety of the criminal element, and since his parents were filthy rich, he has the means to fulfill his oath. This version of the film takes the story a step further and shows how he learned to fight 18 men at the same time and where his weapons really come from. It makes sense, too. There’s no way one guy could develop and build all of the things that Batman uses on a daily basis—or how he could grow up in a pampered lifestyle and fight so well. By showing the audience the magic behind the curtain, so to speak, it makes the character more believable.

Christian Bale does a great job of playing the Caped Crusader and Bruce Wayne. He’s able to shift between the two personalities and treat them as separate people. The fact that he remembers to change his voice when he’s Batman (or is it when he’s Bruce?) is enough to make him the best actor in this role yet. Gary Oldman in the role of a younger Jim Gordon is fun to watch as he learns to trust Batman and distrust his own police force. Michael Caine (as Alfred) provides the comic relief that keeps this film from becoming too morose while keeping Bruce healthy and sane. Because, as Bale says “Anyone who dresses up like a bat must have issues.” Katie Holmes is passable as the wannabe girlfriend of Bruce Wayne, but she mostly comes off as pretty yet shallow.

This movie makes you wait to see the hero put the costume on—and the wait seems to be eternal to a crowd that paid to see the bat emblem. In doing so, it gives viewers the nuances of the character and explains why he’d spend his family’s fortune to fight crime. It gets to the core of why a man trying to do good could be so mean, so hard, and so driven.

The action scenes (or at least what you can see of them) are realistic, too. Gotham is a dark, nasty place, and the Batman operates at night—so it’s impossible to see every punch and every kick, adding to the mystery and sense of fear that he’s trying to create. It works much better than the fights in the earlier movies.

Batman Begins is dark and dangerous. It’s also smart, clever, well-written, and funny—in a wry and witty way. It’s head-and-shoulders above any other superhero movie of the past ten years. The only one that even comes close is the first Spider-Man.

Kids may not go nuts over this movie, but adults will. It saves the Batman movie franchise and builds a great launching pad for Batman movies to come. Let’s hope the next three are this good, too.

DVD Review (by Kristin Dreyer Kramer):
With the release of The Dark Knight just days away, there’s no time like the present for a little Batman refresher—and the Limited Edition Gift Set of Batman Begins offers both a thrilling recap and a tempting taste of what’s to come.

Though Christopher Nolan’s first dark and haunting Batman movie is reason enough to buy the DVD, the extras make opening the big, pretty box feel like Christmas morning. The two-disc set is packed with behind-the-scenes features, galleries, and more (including the ill-advised DVD-ROM extras)—and they’ll show you everything from Christian Bale’s fight training to the construction of the film’s breath-taking sets to the costume design.

The package also includes The Dark Knight extras. There’s an extra disc with a two-minute sneak peek of The Dark Knight, a 128MB flash drive that’s loaded with The Dark Knight images, and even $7.50 in movie money to see The Dark Knight.

So the Batman Begins gift set offers the best of both worlds; you can refresh your memory and prepare for the next installment. One word of warning, though: after making your way through the movie and the extras, there’s a pretty good chance that you won’t be able to sleep until you see The Dark Knight. So I recommend making a day of it—rewatch Batman Begins in the morning and head out to see The Dark Knight at night.

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