340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Quick, Robin: to the bat-theatre!

Last month, steenblogen & I went to see Batman Begins at the 'lesser-of-two-evil' multiplexes. We'd been looking forward to it for a long time--ever since the project was first announced years ago, in fact--and decided that since we'd both been busting our butts lately, we deserved a treat. What a treat it was.

I've always dug Batman; in fact, with the exception of Checkmate, the bat-titles were the only DC comics I read consistently. I've always been drawn to tragic characters and Batman's deeply flawed persona resonated with me. Even Spider-Man, the perpetually-tormented, can't-get-a-break, always-broke struggling hero managed to pull through in his twenties: he married the woman of his dreams (a supermodel), got invited to join the Avengers and--as Peter Parker--published an internationally-renowned book of photographs. In the end, Spidey got his and Batman got put in a wheelchair by Bane.

Batman Begins draws heavily from Frank Miller's seminal Year One text and essentially reboots the movie franchise (a wise move). I think it's safe to say the series (like Battlestar Galactica) is renewing its life and the 'first' installment augurs well for its future. A combination of breathtaking vistas (both urban and natural), gorgeous cinematography and a vision of Gotham explicitly inspired by Blade Runner's mist-shrouded dystopia result in a visually enthralling film. Christian Bale is probably the best Batman yet, even if his Bruce Wayne falls short of Michael Keaton's smug, bitter, slightly cruel portrayal. The movie is well-paced and carefully plotted and even the occasional plot hole doesn't really tarnish the overall story.

Michael Caine lends Alfred Pennyworth the necessary gravitas and even brings an aura of sadness to the role while Gary Oldman's scrappy sketch of Jim Gordon pretty well nails Miller's vision of the character. Liam Neeson is excellent as the svengali Henri Ducard, Cillian Murphy struggles to get a handle on the Dr. Crane/Scarecrow villain and even Katie Holmes manages to avoid offending. Will wonders never cease?

The action sequences are great, even if the fight choreography left a lot to be desired (as a friend remarked: "I know someone's getting their ass kicked--I just wish I knew who."). All in all, probably the best superhero movie since The Hulk. Highly recommended.


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