471 of 531 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2005
Since his first dramatic appearance in Detective Comics in 1939, Batman has grown to become a pop-culture icon. From movie serials in the 40's, to a classic campy TV show in the 60's, to a solid animated series in the 90's, fans have thrilled to the super heroics of this unique character. However, as a film franchise, he has brought results that were somewhat less than impressive creatively. While the Tim Burton directed films, BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS were stylish and dark, they also suffered from plot holes you could drive a Batmobile through. Then Joel Schumacher introduced a Day-Glo sensibility to the Dark Knight in BATMAN FOREVER, before drowning the character in ludicrous costumes (a Bat suit with nipples???), pun-filled foes, and whiney sidekicks in the lousy BATMAN & ROBIN. By then, Batman as cinematic property had become a laughingstock. Fortunately, indie film director Christopher Nolan reinvigorates the franchise in glorious form in BATMAN BEGINS, a reboot of the Batman legend that, for the first time, puts the focus squarely on our hero and not on the over-the-top villains of past films. Nolan also bases the film in a strong semblance of reality that allows the audience to not only accept the possibility of the winged vigilante, but embrace it as well.
Most fans already know the story of how wealthy Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) loses his parents when they are slain during an attempted robbery, but the movie also tells how he chose the bat as his symbol, as well as the steps needed to become the avenger of the night that he turns into. Disillusioned and frustrated by Gotham City's corrupt judicial system, the young Wayne goes abroad to study the criminal mind. Later, while locked in an Asian prison, Wayne is recruited by the enigmatic Ducard (Liam Neeson), who offers him a path in which to focus his anger and hone his skills. Wayne eventually joins his new mentor as a recruit in the mysterious League of Shadows, headed by the sinister Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Wantanabe). Eventually, Wayne realizes that he cannot follow the League's extreme methods of dispensing justice and returns to Gotham to forge his own way. It soon turns out that Wayne's return is just in time as Gotham falls prey to a fear epidemic engineered by the twisted Dr. Jonathan Crane AKA "the Scarecrow" (Cillian Murphy) and a familiar figure from Wayne's past.
From the top on down, this film is blessed with a solid cast that adds wonderfully to Nolan's vision. As the title hero, Christian Bale blows all other Batman portrayers out of the water with his intense and scary take of the role. This is a Batman that you not only fear, but can relate to as well. In fact, he turns in the definitive performance. Michael Caine adds warmth and humor as Wayne's trusty butler, Alfred. Liam Neeson does a great variation of his usual mentor roles as Ducard, a man with his own surprising secret. As an assistant DA and Wayne's childhood friend, Katie Holmes does a nice job with what is basically a thankless role. Cillian Murphy makes for a perfectly creepy Scarecrow, while Morgan Freeman is solid as usual as the man who provides Batman's wondrous car and gadgets. Gary Oldman is wonderfully cast against type as Jim Gordon, one of Gotham's few honest cops. The scene in which he drives the tank-like Batmobile is a sheer delight.
The screenplay by Nolan and David Goyer (who wrote the BLADE films) is awash with characterization and motivation...something that you don't see in many comic book films as a rule. In fact, you get so engrossed by the proceedings that you almost forget that you are watching a "superhero" film in the first place. The special effects are used to enhance the story and not overpower it, while the set design pictures a Gotham that is a unique cross of Chicago, New York and Hong Kong. If there is a flaw, it lies in some of the fight sequences. Done in close-ups and quick cuts, they can get frustrating for those who want to see more of Batman's fighting style. However, this is very minor since the story never ceases to grasp your attention.
In the end, Nolan and his superb cast and crew succeed in achieving what was once thought impossible: the resurrection of a film franchise that, if not dead, was at least on life support. As a result, Batman is once again flying high and BATMAN BEGINS is a film that I wholeheartedly recommend.
536 of 625 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2005
Christopher Nolan and his co-screenwriter, David Goyer have chosen to postpone the crossover of Bruce Wayne (a soulful Christian Bale) into Batman until half way through the new "Batman Begins."
And this is a crucial and important step that Nolan puts off until Bruce walks the earth in search of his own personal nirvana... in a sort of Christ-like journey to understand himself and his place in the world after his parents are brutally murdered. It is also from this quest that he acquires the knowledge and skills necessary for him to become a warrior, ready and able to combat the ills and rid his town Gotham of all evil-doers.
Nolan's "Batman Begins" is a more macho, masculine film than were the previous movies, which is not to take anything away from Tim Burton's elegiac, gothic and visionary takes on this story. But Burton's world is/was/ and will always be the world of the dreamer: his Batman is more sinned against than sinning. His Batman needs love and understanding while Nolan's wants and needs justice and revenge more than anything else: even the sultry Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes proves to be of little interest to Batman save a chaste kiss at the end of the movie. It's interesting to note that in the previous Batman films we had big beautiful bombshells like Kim Bassinger and Nicole Kidman as the so-called love interests while here, in Nolan's vision we have a more scrubbed clean, working class (Rachel is an assistant D.A.) heroine: a woman who is as interested in righting wrongs as is Batman and not merely someone meant as an adornment to the suave debonair Batman of Val Kilmer, George Clooney or Michael Keaton. It's an important and telling shift from woman as a plush toy to one who is, not only beautiful but also smart and dedicated to a cause other than self-promotion and self-satisfaction.
Christian Bale's Batman is real..i.e. a genuine, fleshed-out, beautifully written movie character: he is conflicted, he makes mistakes, he trusts the wrong people at times and he pays for his mistakes. It is a remarkable casting coup to have Bale in this role particularly since of late he has been playing a spate of radicals...i.e. in "The Machinist," in which he transforms himself into a skeleton...literally. As Bruce Wayne/Batman, Bale dons the mask, assumes the persona, not out of a lust for power but out of a fervent belief that good will always triumph over evil: several times in this film he is brought to task for his trust in the basic goodness of people and one of his mentors ( Liam Neeson as Ducard) even goes so far as to ridicule Bruce as sentimental and weak for it. Though Ducard is his mentor and sensei, this relationship proves to be fraught with ambiguity as the movie progresses to the climax.
What is a Batman film without its villains? But this film is devoid of the cartoon craziness of the Riddler or the Joker. Here we have Cillian Murphy (so good in "28 Days Later") as a scary-as-hell The Scarecrow, alias psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Crane, who spews his psychedelic paranoia and psychosis on an unsuspecting Gotham. His "stuff" is more thrilling and frightening than anything that the aforementioned villains could ever muster.
"Batman Begins" is not only a physically gorgeous film, it is also an emotionally and ideologically complicated one. It wears its heart on its sleeve, yes...but it also has the brains and a profoundly strong back and pumped up physicality to back it up.
168 of 200 people found the following review helpful
After years of not having a Batman film and mostly due to the franchise hitting bottom thanks to Joel Schumacher's disastrous "Batman forever" and "Batman and Robin", Christopher Nolan present us his version of the character with an impressive all star cast anda story brilliantly written by David S. Goyer.
There were high expectations for this film before its release as if would it be as good as Burton's films, the truth is, there are no points to compare, Nolan and Burton visions are quite different from each other, but both respect the origins and essence of who the character is.
Goyer took some liberties in the storytelling that could be considered as unforgivable by many fans (Bruce's parents are originally killed after seeing "Mark of Zorro" at the movie theater, a fact that marks Bruce's mind with the idea of a masked vigilante) but also hints at stuff that the previous versions let pass unnoticed, the main focus of this film are the origins of Batman and his training to become what he ultimately is. Even though the detective part of Bruce's training is not even mentioned, the twist in which Ra's Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) is the one who trained him in the ninja arts and theatricality just makes their conflict more delightful and interesting. Cameos and appearances of characters from the comic book are also well used, justified and important to the story (Carmine Falcone and killer Zsaz)
The story uses the two villains exactly as they would act in the comic book, Ra's Al Ghul with his constant desire to set thing right his way and Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy) working and experimenting with the thing he enjoys the most: fear. Even though the Scarecrow is totally the opposite of the comic book (in the comic Jonathan Crane is an old and ugly doctor who was fired from Gotham University for experimenting on the students with his gas of fear), the character presented keeps the essence and motives that the original character has, unlike the Riddler, Mr Freeze, Two Face or Poison Ivy in Schumacher's awful versions.
A new Gotham city is presented, much more like a NY city style, a new Batmobile (not as fancy as the previous ones but quite impressive) and a whole set of characters we expect to see in future releases, James Gordon (Gary Oldman who amazingly looks exactly as Jim in the comic), Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Jonathan Crane, Carmine Falcone and Ra's Al Ghul.
Masterfully executed by the whole cast and brilliantly directed by Nolan, there are many of us looking forward for a sequel to this film.
Disc one contains Mtv's "Tankman Begins", a spoof we could have lived without but without any doubt a collector's piece for all Mtv fans.
Disc two contains a set of documentaries related to all aspects of production and shooting of the film, from the early beginnings in Nolan's washing room until the shooting of some of the most difficult sequences of the film. The disc 2 is organized in a comic book-like format which makes it a little difficult to follow as many things are like hidden, but if you go until the end of the short and pointless story, you will find a list with all documentaries available. One of the documentaries called "Genesis of the bat" presents comic book artist related to Batman talking about the character and film, from Dennis O'Neil to Jim Lee. I am sure this will be a piece fans of the comic book will enjoy. All extras are worthy of watching and I strongly recommend the 2 disc set, it is a 5 o 6 dollar difference that will compensate with all the facts and items found in the bonus materials.
I had already written a review for this film when the two-disc special edition was released on DVD, so I will not get into any details about how great the movie is.
The treatment they gave to this release is incredible, image looks great and colors are stunning, the high definition definitely makes a difference and 'Batman Begins' looks better than ever (simply check out the ice sequence between Bruce and Ducard)
I have seen threads with questions as to what exactly does the limited edition set contains versus the regular single disc, so here are what I think are the most important ones:
The disc included here is the same disc they released separately:
* All the extras from the 2-disc DVD are included, the documentaries and the awful 'Tankman Begins'
* The prologue to 'The Dark Knight' in high definition (are we in for a treat when released on Bluray!) This is basically the bank robbery scene that opens the sequel.
The USB with 18 the stills from 'The Dark Knight' included in the DVD version of the gift set IS NOT INCLUDED in the Bluray gift set; don't know what the reason is but it would have made sense to include it in both versions.
The postcards included are selections from the art created to promote 'Batman Begins', in my opinion some of the images look simple and overall they are not that great.
The two comic books included are a joke! One is a comic book adaptation of the same 6 minutes prologue included in this edition (the bank robbery), the other one is the script with pictures of the same 6 minute prologue! I am a collector and big fan of Batman and even I find this ridiculous and overpriced.
The $7.50 coupon to see 'The Dark Knight' in theaters.
Bottom-line, I would give 3 stars to the BluRay release, not to the movie itself (which is great and looks superb in HD) but to the release. I am having buyer's remorse, don't be fooled by what the product description says, it may sound interesting but had I known the extras would be as they are, I would have gone for the cheaper single disc edition.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2005
When i first heard they were making a new Batman movie, i thought, it won't be better than the old ones. That was before i went and watched the old ones again, as I hadn't seen them in years. The first one in 89 was good, but after that, they all completely blowed. I mean, they just sucked. The acting was horrible, it was so stupid, it seemed like a comedy.
Then I saw the trailer for Batman Begins, and it was amazing. I have seen the movie 3 times so far, not to mention once in IMAX, and am going to see it again. It was just awesome. At first, i didn't like the different look of batman or the batmobile, but you grow to like it, and now i absolutely love it. The acting was great, and Liam Neeson was a great actor for Ra's. I liked the new,tougher, almost criminal, Bale as Batman. He was a great actor as well.
As the other review mentioned, the music for a movie can destroy it, or make it incredible. The old batman movies had freakin circus music and Prince, what the heck. Hans Zimmer is amazing with this movie. Already creating incredible soundtracks for Gladiator and King Arthur, for example, he was perfect for Batman. The music makes the exciting action scenes 20 times better. I honestly got chills when i watched this movie, it was so good. For example, the final scene of the train, the music made the scene so much more action packed. And the "scary" parts, or more disturbing parts with the toxin being inhaled by batman and other people, made THOSE scenes perfect as well.
The new batmobile is simply amazing. When i first saw it, before i saw the movie, i was like "o no, not a dang tank!" But i later loved it, more than the old crappy ones with the flimsy "wings" on it. It is just more tough and has better gadgets, like the spike strips, or more spike balls, for that matter.
Batman's outfit is much better in these movies. It doesn't look like crappy rubber or stuff like that, cuz its not. And the guy who said earlier that he can barely move his head, well, he moves it plenty. Compared to the old movies, he looks like he isn't even wearing the cowl. In the old ones, there wasn't any head movement at all, he had to move his whole body. Then there is his cape. This is the best cape ever made. Batman doesn't have to hold sticks out to make it look like his cape is up. He can actually glide on it. Its just so much better.
Anyways, that finishes my review. This movie was the best movie i've seen in a long time. It makes me happy to know that it wasn't really associated with the old ones, and it isn't part of that franchise. I wouldn't want to be known for those pitiful attempts. I can't wait till the deluxe edition comes out. I also can't wait till the next movie comes out, with the Joker and all.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2005
Let's all take a moment and try to remember (or forget) just how bad the last two Batman movies ("Batman Forever" and "Batman and Robin") actually were. They were horrible. Neon Lights in Gotham?? Nipples on the bat suit?? Bat-cracks? Alicia Silverstone in a Batman movie? As Batgirl???? All this left the general movie-goers with a clear picture of what they thought comic books and the movie adaptions from them were all about, and it has haunted us true and loyal comic book fans for a long time.
Now think about the last few years, in particular the "Spider-Man" movies. They proved, finally, that hollywood can invest a ton of money, get a great ensemble cast and (cherish the thought) be faithful to the source material. The result? Two great movies (spidey).
Now comes "Batman Begins", and thank you very much it follows the story more than very well. It is dark, gritty, emotional and everything a Batman movie SHOULD be. But before we get Batman, we get Bruce Wayne and the movie is 100x better for it. We can't empathize with Wayne unless we see his journey, his struggles and his mistakes. And this film shows us all of that.
When the moment comes that Batman finally makes his appearance in the dark shadows of a Gotham dock, you almost have forgotten your watching a Batman film. The first hour or so focusing on Wayne and all the supporting characters (all amazingly well acted) is a great film in and of itself, and then we get an hour or so of Batman on top of it!
The film moves along well, and is just a great great flick. Fans of the comic walk away having seen there favorite caped crusader finally told right and told well (not to take away from Burton's two films, but they aren't even on the same level as this). And newcomers get an amazing story.
The Deluxe Edition DVD is definetly the way to go, as the single disc version has nothing, not even a trailer. This version, aside from a nifty comic book featuring three Bat-tales that inspired the script of the movie, has about a dozen featurettes ranging from 7-15 minutes on the script, the costume, the batmobile, stunts, etc. Also a great comic book interactive menu sits on the 2nd disc, which is really fun.
The sound and Picture quality are top notch, and this DVD is very Highly recommended!
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2005
I won't go on for six paragraphs about how good this movie is. In all reality, I would need twenty or more. This is THE definitive comic book movie of all time. It stays true to the source material, and as true to reality as possible. Be warned though, this Batman is not for the faint of heart. Clooney and Kilmer were laughable in their batsuits. Michael Keaton looked cool enough. But Christian Bale as Batman is downright scary. If you think Keaton pulling a thug close to his face and whispering just who he is was scary back in 1989, you've got another thing coming when Bale growls and hisses and hangs criminals upside down over the sides of buildings as they more than likely soil themselves. All of that, plus the villain (Scarecrow) makes Nicholson's Joker look...like...well, a clown. THis is not only the greatest comic book film of all time, but it deserves a place within the top 100 films of all time for it's cinematography, script, direction, and performances.
Absolute paradise for Batman fans---and still a damn enjoyable movie for people that would say, "Bat-who?"
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I've been avoiding much of Holleywood's latest productions due to so many predictable stories, politically-driven plots, and mediocre acting so I did not catch this one in theatres. I probably would not even have rented it if my son had not begged me to do so. I am sooooo glad now that I've seen it. I'm blown away... this is not only the best Batman movie out there but one of the top five best action/adventure movies I've ever seen!! I bought a copy through Amazon before even finishing the DVD.
Batman has always been one of my favorite superheros but one that has rarely been well captured on screen. He's basically a regular, more-or-less everyday guy who works out a lot and has some cool gadgets; sort of brooding James Bond in a mask and cape. This movie starts out by showing how he learned and perfected his martial arts skills. It really captures the soul of the Dark Knight. Christian Bale is a perfect choice to play this character. I can't say enough positive things about this approach, it's exactly how I have always pictured the character.
The pacing nears perfection, the action is gripping and extremely well choreographed, the acting is top rate, the writing is fantastic, and the cinematography is outstanding. Rarely is a known story done so originally and well. I love the depth of the characters, the splashes of humor, and the low-key but everpresent moral undertones. It's neither preachy nor over the top. And, despite the fact that we all have a pretty good idea of the plot it is surprisingly original. Oh, and it's got Liam Neesan with a sword too; what more could you want ;-)
I am also very impressed with how they show Gotham being very much like any large US city today yet demonstrate in a realistic and believable manner how a masked superhero and fantastic villians can fit in that context. I really hope this cast/crew/director hook-up again for a sequal as the calling card at the end perhaps suggests.
Fantastic; heartily recommended!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2005
After experimenting with imagery/scripting inconsistencies that had actually made the 1960's TV series look sophisticated by comparison (Batman and Robin, Batman Forever), the Batman movie series returns to the brooding and tortured millionare which we adore.
In this film, we see how a young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) copes with his parents murder. Because he has the money and resources, Wayne ultimately decides to become Batman--a vigilante 'anti-hero' hero who takes the law into his own hands when the police cannot stop evil from overrunning Gotham City. Bruce ultimately wants to ensure that other people will not experience the tragedy which he has known. He subsequently walks a very fine line between administering justice and exacting revenge.
There are some bumps along the way to Bruce's infamous 'reincarnation'. The begining of the film shows young "Master Wayne" recieving abuse in a generic prison camp for 'research' but ultimately concluding that even he cannot join in his rescuer's idea of justice, killing another person. Already traumatized as he is, Bruce is still a good guy due to his all-critical remaining shred of humanity. Yet, this scene also hints that he theoretically could have snapped under other conditions.
Immediately following an overseas trip, Bruce finds that Gotham is now in shambles. Adding insult to this injury, he also learns that his own company is now convieniently on the verge of being taken away from him.
Bob Kane's Dark Knight Detective was never supposed to be a camp icon(ala West and Clooney's portrayals); he was supposed to be THE thing which lurks in the shadows against injustice. Batman is a mystery precisely because he worked with the police, but was explicitly not one of them. This film also explains how Gotham PD ultimately came to trust Batman.
We see a young Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) who is destined to become Gotham City's police commissioner in the future. The city is SO corrupt at this point that he is the only honest cop left. Gordon desperately wants help maintaining law and order so turning to an outsider who can deliver this is his logical conclusion. Their early partnership thus lays critical foundation for why Gordon and Batman work together in subsequent years; Gordon knows that Batman also wants to clean up Gotham--and can deliver on it. Gordon recognizes that the Batman is an effective if wholly unorthodox crime control resource.
Morgan Freeman also stars as Lucius Fox, a family friend who helps Bruce create the Batman personna. He is a scientist in the then-taken over Wayne Enterprises who somehow managed to escape the scrutiny of a devilsh Rutger Hauer. Fox ultimately helps to devise all of Batman's awesome crime-fighting gadgets in the tradition of James Bond's 'Q'. I don't think there is a single film which Morgan Freeman has been involved with that I did not like. This man's name simply oozes talent.
We also meet Jonathan 'Scarecrow' Crane (Cillian Murphy), who is a really unethical psychatrist. According to this screenplay, he is Batman's first 'big villan'. The Scarecrow wants to control the City of Gotham by drugging the water supply with psychedelic mind controls. The special effects department did a wonderful job with the character, I definently was terrified after seeing this character throughout the screen play. I also could not find anything laughable about him.
Christian Bale is handsome as Bruce Wayne/Batman, and I feel guilty because I had never previously cared to see something which he was playing in before now. Bale brings the perfect match of sensitivity and unbalancw that is essentially needed for this part (Batman IS fundamentally a vengange gig from a disturbed milionare) and I know this film is going to be a blockbuster of the summer, if not the year.
I have not been this enthusiastic about a Batman movie since 1992's Batman Returns (with Michael Keaton then in the lead role). I am seeing this one release several times, something which I honestly have not done with any film since I was a little girl.
I am also willing to predict Batman Begins generates renewed interest in the Batman concept. The design people for this film have obviously taken considerable care to give depth and credibility to the 'begins' concept, the Bat signal is not as it would look in most other movies. There is a sense that Batman really is starting but is serious about wanting to do a good job of eliminating crime.
Hopefully, the studios ultimately now understand that turning Batman into a comedian was a recipe for disaster and thus will not be inclined to tinker with a masterpiece creation. I expect Bale and this scripting sophistication to hold up in subsequent movies, if nothing else because of the ending to this film itself .
Batman has begun a long-awaited period of revival both as a crime fighting force to be recokned with and a box office blockbuster to see.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2005
Hey, guess what? This is a real good film. Actually, the first half of this production is an excellent movie and the second half is still pretty darned-good.
As the title implies "Batman Begins" is an origin story. This is usually my favorite part of Superhero epics -- how about you? The filmmakers took some interesting risks in casting a lesser-known, though strong actor -- Christian Bale. Bale fits the role and the costume well. He's brooding, strong, vulnerable, yet decisive -- and perhaps even more than all of that -- as about as real/believable as Batman gets.
Another surprise is director Christopher Nolan of the highly acclaimed Memento. For those who haven't seen this unique, yet brain-straining feature; suffice to say that Nolan is great with thought and suspense -- but action? What an exciting risk to employ. Personally, I think these risks pay off in spades. This is a film that cares a great deal for what is going on inside the Bat-Man's head; the action is more of an accent.
The fight scenes are shot close in; Nolan seems to have made a conscious decision not to compete with other more "martial arts" hand-to-hand action flicks. His action scenes are dark, the sounds and movement jeer a chill or more accurately -- fear.
Building a solid motif around fear, this strong screenplay unfolds masterfully until the two-thirds mark, at which point some of the pacing slips just a bit, and further complications blur its initial beauty. I enjoyed the idea of the masked foe introduced at that point, but his actual execution on film smacked of the phony supervillians I didn't like in earlier Batmans. That said, the film's other foes are well-acted, enjoyable, respectably intimidating.
A good film -- you'll get your money's worth.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2005
This is the way it should be: an ordinary man who rises above tragedy and his own guilt and fear to become something more. A legend. An icon. The Batman.
"Batman Begins" does not flinch for a moment in its portrayal of the origins of the Dark Knight. We do not even see the Batman we know until the film is half over. What we see first is Bruce Wayne, his tragic childhood and the burdens he carries as an adult, and finally the choices he makes that turn him into a symbol for hope in the face of dark times and evil people. This is how we come to understand how a man can become so driven, so focused, so honed and balanced, like a weapon always prepared to strike. The first act of "Batman Begins" shows us not only his physical training, but his mental and spiritual rigor as well. We come to understand the man beneath the mask, before he ever puts the mask on.
And then, when he does finally don the familiar cowl and cape, it is so much more powerful, so much more bellievable than it ever has been before. We see a man who understands what the nature of fear is, and for the rest of the film he uses it against his enemies, the criminals who are tearing his city apart, and those who threaten to tear it down completely. Because as much as "Batman Begins" is about the creation of the legend that is Batman, it is also about fear. Coming to understand one's fears, to face them down, and finally to use them as tools. Bruce Wayne understands this when he puts on the mask and the cape, and one of his foes understands it as well. The nature of fear forms the subtext and undercurrent of this powerful film.
And what a film it is. The casting is ideal, from Christian Bale as the best Bruce Wayne/Batman dichotomy to ever grace the screen, to Gary Oldman as the perfect Sergeant (soon to be Commissioner?) Gordon, to Liam Neeson as...well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The direction of Christopher Nolan captures with crystal clarity, and for the first time on screen, the dual aspects of the Batman character -- the man, and the hero. The musical score, a unique partnership of Hans Zimmer's dramatic style and James Newton Howard's understated themes, suits the film beautifully, carrying the dramatic aspects while avoiding the use of a catchy theme. The story is well-paced, with a good blend of finely-tuned character development and high-octane action to keep it interesting, leading up to a pulse-pounding conclusion that will leave you breathless.
I'm inescapably reminded of "Unbreakable," the only other film I can think of which takes the concept of a comic-book hero and deals with it in a real-world context. Both films share a grounding in reality, a hope that things can be better than they are, and an emotional center which should resonate in even the most cynical heart. Chances are good that if you like "Unbreakable," you'll like "Batman Begins," and vice-versa.
At last, you can forget Joel Schumacher's Batman flops, and you can even lay aside Tim Burton's efforts at bringing the Batman to the screen. Finally, in "Batman Begins," we have a film that treats the Batman as he should be treated -- a complex character who is both legend and man, who looks his fear in the eye and brings a new understanding of fear to his enemies, who buries himself inside a cocoon built of his own doubts, fears, and guilt but emerges as a changed man, free to fly above darkened streets.
"Batman Begins" is certainly one of the best comic-book movies ever made, primarily because it treats the subject seriously and honestly, but more than that, it is a challenging film that confronts the subject of fear and the nature of heroism head-on. Here is where we see that being a hero doesn't mean having special powers or abilities...a hero is defined by the choices he makes, and by the actions he takes.
Truly, a brilliant film.