Sunday, June 19, 2005

Batman Begins

Finally saw it yesterday and I have to say I came out very impressed by Nolan and the actors playing the characters. The latter is easily the biggest difference of why Batman Begins is leagues above Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in the summer movie battle. The whole Batman franchise needed a breath of fresh air and Nolan has brought it to us. Everything was fantastic and I would dare say that this is better than X-Men 2 or Spider-Man 2 in the modern era of superhero movies. I know I am probably one of the few that thought Spider-Man 2 was better than the first, but in the realm of comic books Spider-Man comes first with Batman right after in my favorites column. I can be very critical of both, but it was fantastic to see the Batman franchise back to better days.

Christian Bale is an excellent actor as well. The most amazing thing to me was showing Bale as a man in his late teens or early 20s. His hair looked just right to be of college age versus the man shown in his times overseas. Sometimes Bale does push the Batman voice over-the-top, but he makes it sound enough unlike Bruce Wayne to make it believeable. Batman is not an easy role to play simply because of the dual identity, but Bale did a great job.

I would like to talk about one thing with the movie though and I'd like to give you guys a SPOILER WARNING before I do in case you haven't seen Batman Begins as of yet. OK, next paragraph starts it...

Obviously the comics weren't adhered to as well as they could (Smallville on TV does much the same with Superman...not everything is taken from the comic canon), but I like the changes they did make. Ra's Al Ghul as played by Ken Wantanabe was pretty cool and I figured when he supposedly died in the monastary that he would come back via the Lazarus Pit (how he often comes back in the comics from death). Little did I see the swerve of Liam Neeson actually being Ra's Al Ghul and I think that was a fantastic swerve. I was so caught up in the movie that I wasn't even thinking he could be Ra's. When the train went into the street my wife asked, "Do you think he's dead?" and I said, "Probably not given the comic book history of the character and the fact his group is still around".

It is quite interesting to insert Ra's in to this part of Batman's life. Ra's Al Ghul was a later entry into Batman's rogues and in many ways stands right up there with Joker as Batman's most feared enemies. Neeson played Ra's to a T with the whole ecological warfare and the need to bring down the big city ideas and I'm glad to see that they went with Ra's as projected in the comics. With Ra's showing up so early I can justify the reasons he isn't calling Batman "Detective" as he does in the comics. Yes, Ra's does know Batman is Bruce Wayne in the comics, but he never calls him by name. Making Ra's Bruce's mentor in his formulative years makes for a great setup for using his real name. The only thing I wished was that Wantanbe had a larger role than he had in this film. I do like that they kept people in the dark about the whole thing though, much like they are doing with Spider-Man 3 in regards to the hiring as Topher Grace and Thomas Hayden Church as villians (only people working on the movie know what roles they play).

Anyway, I thought Batman Begins was a very good movie with some slow parts at the beginning, but it is much like Spider-Man in this regard simply because they have to build the origin instead of getting straight into the action like Spider-Man 2 or X-Men 2 did. Preview for Fantastic 4 was shown before the movie. My wife would like to see it, but I warned her that the cool trailer could be nothing like the full movie. We'll have to see. Can't wait for Nolan and Bale to join up again for the next Batman movie.