Batman Begins (2005) (PG-13)

"Batman Begins" marks the beginning (irony absolutely intended) of Christopher Nolan's rise to stardom. Before this film he had made the much overlooked "Following", the crime drama with the star cast "Insomnia", and the mind-blowing mystery "Memento"'d think that he would have had a better time at the box office with his already glowing record. But it wasn't until he redesigned the Batman saga that he caught the popular eye.
"Batman Begins" makes no qualms about being on origin story, and it's one of the first. Before this film there was buzz about recreating the famous superheroes, "X-Men" and "Spider-Man" had both appeased the need for masked crusaders. But "Batman Begins" showed what comic books could be turned into and defied the "nerdy" definition that was tacked onto the paper equivalent of the movie.
Bruce Wayne is a man that knows fear. This concept was even portrayed in Tim Burton's underrated "Batman", where our hero had to face down his parents's killer. This same idea is used in "Batman Begins" but to new levels that could not have even been imagined.
What this film does more than anything else is give the viewer something to think about if he wishes to and if not, hey! explosion! The script (as is mostly true of Nolan) is sensationally smart and has his typical philosophy in it. There are allusions to obsession, insanity, and the mind.
Gotham is a city that was once a pinnacle of goodness (maybe not morality but a nice city nonetheless). Bruce's parents were near the top of the ladder of success and he enjoyed the luxury of living with a family that had much wealth.
But if you know that Batman story you know what's coming next. Bruce's parents are brutally murdered in front of him and he is left in the care of Alfred, the butler. Alfred raises Bruce like his own child, but Bruce will never be the same again.
He flees his home city of Gotham to find some way to attain and administer justice, for that's what he seeks. Justice seems like an intangible idea that lies just out of reach.
Bruce's search leads him to a mysterious cult-ish society called The League of Shadows who are, coincidentally, all about justice. Lead by a enigmatic man named Ra's Al Ghul and supervised by a martial arts specialist named Ducard, Bruce starts the training that ends up being the backbone behind Batman.
Batman/Bruce Wayne are the two opposite sides of the coin. Batman stands for justice while Bruce couldn't care less. It's clear that the man behind both characters is more Batman than Bruce but he is not entirely one or the other. Nolan really succeeded with this movie and its characters because they are all incredibly human and realistic.
Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne and although he wouldn't have been my first choice, it's hard to think of anyone else in the role. He really embodies the idea behind Batman quite well. Michael Caine, a Nolan regular, is Alfred and is effortlessly amazing. Morgan Freeman appears as a technically savvy genius who helps Bruce with the gadgets that help him become Batman. Adding on to big-named stars are Liam Neeson (one of the best in this movie) and Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes who isn't perfect but does a respectable job. Gary Oldman is great as Jim Gordon, whose character is Batman without the mask.
But for me, the acting in this movie belongs to Cillian Murphy as the villainous Dr. Crane. His eyes are so captivating that it's almost hard to look away. He knocks his role out of the park, and paves the way for more great villains in the rest of the Nolan Batman movies.
"Batman Begins" could have been just a prequel, all about story; but it is much more than that. It stands on its own feet without any assistance.
This movie deserves all the praise that it received.

Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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