"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reviews in Brief: Christopher Nolan, Batman Begins

I finally did it: I bought a live-action, English-language movie (two of them, in fact). Look, Ma! No subtitles!

Batman Begins is the groundwork, and since this is the post-Alan Moore Batman, with all the attendant psychological self-examination, half the film is set-up: backstory on the childhood of Bruce Wayne, the murder of his parents, and his own quest to find a way to fight the bad guys in a Gotham City that is rotten to the core. And it turns out that the enemy in this case is the man who trained him, Ras al Ghul.

I have to say, I could have used a bit less backstory on this one. It's not tight, and I think the point(s) could have been made more economically. When Wayne returns to Gotham and begins his clean-up work, the film really does come together. Action scenes are very well done (although I noticed that most of the actual hand-to-hand stuff is done is close in and tightly framed), and the techno-wizardry is top-notch. Effects are the best that money can buy. (I especially like the use of the bats as a distraction.)

The cast is superlative. Christian Bale is a revelation -- I've never seen him before, but he does the switch from playboy Bruce Wayne to caped vigilante Batman without a hitch. (He's also quite appealingly buff without being body-builder grotesque.) Michael Caine as Alfred is, as expected, flawless. Morgan Freeman is a delight -- Freeman is a really potent actor, if this is any indication. (I have to confess to not having seen his other work.) Liam Neeson is appropriately cold-blooded, and really kind of scary.

The only real annoyance is that the credits don't list roles, only actors, so it took me a while to figure out who, for example, Rutger Hauer played (I haven't seen Hauer on screen in years -- he's changed). The only "feature" is the trailer, and since it's an Area 1 release, you can watch in English or French, or with English, French or Spanish subtitles.

This was a spur-of-the-moment thing, the result of layered discounts at Borders, but it was worth it. I think I'm going to enjoy this one again and again.

(DC Comics/Warner Bros., 2005)

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