With the Dark Knight Rises out I decided it was time to see how it all begun. While I got through The Dark Knights without getting confused, Begins seems to be required viewing to gain the utmost enjoyment out of the grand finale. I’m not the biggest fan of origin stories being retold all over again with a new hat, but I’ve been told I may get confused when I sit down to watch the climax. I always have wondered why he puts on that ridiculous voice, maybe this will reveal all!
Begins steps on old ground but does it in a tidy and interesting way. I’m sure nine in ten people are aware that Bruce Wayne witnessed his parents death then used his riches to start fighting crime when he grew up, but Begins seems like a definite version, one with little corn and lots of careful build up to show the transformation of a normal rich guy to crime fighter with some artistic flourishes. It takes its time to give us a proper modern-day threat and instead we go from Bruce’s childhood of being scared of bats, to venturing with crooks to try to learn their ways, before training to be a hard ass ninja with the League of Shadows. It’s very thorough, and Batman feels completely believable as a character, with a good sense of his justice and how he uses fear to fight. Christian Bale does good, much better than when Clooney was prancing around in Gotham.
While Begins gets the character development of Bruce Wayne right, the film doesn’t really peak on the excitement scale. There is no hiding from the fact that no matter how good you reboot a story, unless it is completely different a lot of it will be treading on old ground and so the long build up can’t escape from being just mildly entertaining. It doesn’t help that when we do get the threat, they happen to be the most uninteresting villains possible. The Scarecrow goes around gassing people with some fear gas, but he is criminally underused and the villains which replace him as the key threat are flat and devoid of character. The fear gas spreading around is visually exciting though, and provides some rather artistic darkness to the drab surroundings. There is nothing wrong with the action or story, it just needs a kick into the next gear. When it appears Scarecrow has gone mad through his own fear, there is an expectancy that he would come back with great gusto. Instead he rides around on a horse for a bit before we get to the bland assassins.
Batman Begins is an important super hero film however, thanks to taking the genre into an era of grim realities and mature storytelling. You can almost imagine Batman sweeping around the city tracking down pushers and hookers. And once he’s done you’d seem him chilling in his suped up bat tank. I gotta get me one of those.