水曜日, 6月 15, 2005

Batman Begins

Thanks to the timezone difference, my brother and I got to see Batman Begins right after it premiered in Taiwan (at...er...noon.) It helped that HBO was rerunning Batman Forever--I grew up with that movie and never realized how bad it was. Our family also watched Equilibrium on cable last Sunday for Christian Bale in full badass mode. We went into the theater feeling like we'd done our homework.

Short review: Batman's psycho. But he's our psycho.

Longer review:

*SPOILERS*


Christian Bale is such a better Batman than Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney that I wish Warner Bros. would either CGI him into the old movies (bring in George Lucas) or erase them from our collective memory. I especially liked how he switched back and forth from protector-of-Gotham mode to billionaire playboy. The Bat voice, which sounded strange in the trailers, worked. Bale is always great in badass mode, and it even comes through when he's in costume. To be more accurate, he's Batman with and without the suit. As most of the movie implies (and love interest Rachel has to obviously state) Bruce Wayne is the mask.

I'm not all that familiar with Batman lore, but the origins of the suit, car, cowl (Made in China!! Even Batman outsources!), cave, and signal all seemed logical and rather clever. If the fights were well-choreographed, I couldn't tell. All those quick cuts did a good job making the audience feel as disoriented as Batman's prey. It's strange, but the chase scene actually seemed a bit slow to me. The Batmobile was a powerful car, but it didn't feel like a fast one.

Alfred (Caine) and Lucius Fox (Freeman) are great mentors for young Wayne. In fact, the humor in their scenes with the young superhero worked better than the action sequences. (Favorite throwaway line: "Spelunking.") Detective Gordon (Oldman) has that weary family man air and gets his turn behind the wheel. Wayne's childhood friend Rachel was actually a likeable character. I thought I'd be annoyed by Katie Holmes, but I wasn't.

Yes, there is a twist two-thirds of the way through. No, I didn't see it coming. In retrospect, it was pretty inevitable, but quite clever. However, bringing ninjas into it just smacked too much of Eastern fetishism. Come on, the League of Shadows were supposed to have helped sack Rome. Japan was far from a developed civilization back then. Even had this League existed, it'd be far more concerned with the fates of the Chinese Empire in capitals Changan and Loyang than Rome and Constantinople. This Western focus under an Oriental veneer is quite disappointing.

In the end...well, let's say that Batman still has a future with Catwoman. The rule of the chaste superhero as established by Spiderman still holds. It makes sense, since Rachel is in love with Bruce Wayne, not Batman. In other words, there's an opening for a new love interest in the sequel.

In fact, this is one of the few movies for which I walked out of the theater wanting a sequel. (Star Wars doesn't count. I want to die smiling after the midnight showing of Episode MCXXXVIII.) Not because it's perfect--more because Batman is just finding his groove at the end of the movie, and we want MOOOOORRE! /Anakin

Random stuff:

Halfway through the first full fight with Bale in the suit, I turned to my brother: "My god, he really is a psycho."

When Batman pulled of the cowl in a moment of dramatic silence, my brother started doing the Vader breathing.

The music was serviceable, but no John Williams.

Nice to see the "I'm noctournal" excuse doesn't work with Alfred either. Even Bruce Wayne is automatically kicked out of bed at 3 pm.