Starring: Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/ Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred, Liam Neeson as Ducard, Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane/ The Scarecrow, Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone, Ken Watanabe as Ra's Al Ghul, Mark Boone Junior as Flass, Linus Roache as Thomas Wayne, and Rutger Hauer as Mr. Earle
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer
For me, seeing Batman Begins was a big event. I boarded Metro-North with some friends and went into New York City, as that was the closest place showing the movie on IMAX. We made a whole day out of it, finally seeing the movie in the late afternoon. While we were sitting in the theater in front of the six-story screen waiting for the movie to start, we noticed actor Richard Belzer from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit walk in, and we knew it would be a good experience. The movie was nothing short of incredible. Batman has always been my favorite superhero, and I was eagerly waiting another good film adaptation after the massive disappointment of 1997's Batman & Robin. Batman Begins was right in every way Batman & Robin was wrong. It focused on character and story rather than flash and special effects. In Batman & Robin, Bruce Wayne was not a character, he was an excuse to show George Clooney's face. Granted, that was the fourth movie in the original Batman series, so Wayne's character was about as developed as it was going to be, but Batman just didn't have the edge that the previous movies had. It was up to Christopher Nolan to bring that edge back.
Nolan's first step in revitalizing Batman was enlisting a phenomenal cast. Some people were probably less than excited with Christian Bale's casting in the lead, but he turns out to be an inspired choice. He shows Bruce Wayne's inner demons and motives for fighting crime better than any other actor who had played the part before. His change from a bratty young man trying to avenge his parents to a heroic defender of justice is masterful. Surrounding Bale in the cast are several Oscar winners and nominees, including Michael Caine as Wayne's loyal butler Alfred, Liam Neeson, as Ducard, Wayne's mysterious trainer with a devastating secret, Tom Wilkinson as crime boss Carmine Falcone, Morgan Freeman as inventor Lucius Fox, the man who provides Wayne with all of Batman's familiar gadgets, (including the Batmobile, Batsuit, and utility belt), and Ken Watanabe as the sinister Ra's Al Ghul. Also in the principal cast are Gary Oldman as Officer (and future Commisioner) James Gordon, Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, Bruce's love interest, and Cillian Murphy as psycho-therapist Jonathan Crane, who doubles as the maniacal Scarecrow. Overall, the cast is brilliant, with the exception of Holmes, who is only mediocre as the female lead. To be honest, I expected worse, but the movie still might have been a little better with a stronger actress. Supporting characters included Flass, a corrupt cop played by Mark Boone Junior, Earle, a businessman played by Rutger Hauer, and Thomas Wayne, Bruce's slain father, played by Linus Roache. This outstanding cast gives this movie something other comic book movies tend to lack- great characters.
Another reason this movie is a cut above the rest is the filmmaking itself. Director Christopher Nolan, best known for Memento, an amazing film released in 2000, provides the audience with sharp storytellingand intense action that does not fully rely on computer effects, as so many movies do these days. I, and everyone else in the large theater, were on the edge of our seats throughout the movie. I left knowing I wanted to see it again, and three days later, I did. In a matter of days, I spent 26 dollars on Batman Begins, and I believe it was worth every penny. In the days following seeing the movie, I compared it to the other comic book movies I have seen (and I've seen many), and concluded that it is the best. Batman Begins is a definite must-see.
Overall: 4 1/2 stars out of 5