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Batman Begins
(2005 Film)

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Batman Begins (2005):  This film is truly outstanding!  I can't even think of anything that would've needed improvement.  The only thing is that I hope they work Robin into the next movie, but this is a wonderful story about how Batman came to be.

Batman Begins

    "Batman Begins" is the first movie in an all-new series of live-action Batman films.  It is not a follow-up or prequel to any of the Batman movies from 1989-1997.  This show is completely separate.  Batman's origin is a bit different and truer to the comic book origin.  The two main villains of this movie are Ra's Al Ghul and Scarecrow.


    There is very little in the way of computer-generated effects in this Batman film.  When I first heard about that, I wasn't really happy with that fact.  I mean, isn't a Batman film SUPPOSED to be all stunts and special effects?  But when I saw this movie I was by no means disappointed.  In fact, a lot of special effects would've ruined this movie.  Just about everything you see is real.  This is important, because the movie itself is set up to be a more realistic version of Batman.  Everything that happens in this movie could happen in real life.  The people and their surroundings are real.  Gotham City looks like any other big city.

    It's an enormous story that basically covers Bruce Wayne's life from around the time of his parents' murder to his first outings as Batman.  Right before becoming Batman, he travelled the world in order to understand the criminal mind.  We learn about his fear of bats and why, when becoming a vigilante, he chose the bat as his symbol.  How he got his bat gadgetry and started the Batcave.  His first Batmobile.  And more.  Just exactly how did Bruce Wayne become a super-fighter?  Where did he get his training?  Surprisingly, he learned most of his advanced fighting skills from the man he later discovers is Ra's Al Ghul, who was at one time his friend.  And how exactly did the Scarecrow serve a part in Batman's origin?  And why does Bruce Wayne pretend he's more of a playboy than he really is?  It is all very well thought-out.  Cheers to the writers of this film.

    Everybody knows that great action and visual thrills is the essence of a good Batman film.  A strong cast is just as important.  In fact, the only hindrances to some of Batman's live-action appearances before this film was because of certain cast choices.  I'm happy to say that, in this film, everyone fits.  I'm truly surprised that the cast turned out to be so good.  Each one of the major roles should be given special mention.

Christian Bale as Batman:  Visually and acting-wise probably the best Batman that there will ever be.  He is the right age for Batman and he completely has the brooding-but-hopeful mood of the caped avenger.  I am honestly surpised that he made such a good Batman.  I remembered him best from the 2000 film "Shaft" as a bad guy, and really didn't know he had the talent to handle such a complex role as that of Batman.  Plus, he has a really dark and foreboding Batman voice.  It's more than just a deep voice like some Batman actors in the past have had; he's a completely different identity from Bruce Wayne...really growly and gritty.  And when he's trying to be scary as Batman, he actually is scary.  He just doesn't whip on a costume and hope to freak people out by his wardrobe and gadgetry.  As Batman, Mr. Bale handles himself as a take-no-crap, more-than-man creature of the night.

Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth:  I can't even begin to tell you how wrong I thought Mr. Caine was going to be for this role at first.  If you're familiar with his work, you know that he mostly plays really abrasive characters, typically villains or someone that's antagonistic.  I didn't expect that he'd have all the warmth and charm you'd want from Bruce Wayne's butler and sidekick.  Michael Caine was truly perfect for this part!  Every step of the way he was a capable aide and good friend of Bruce Wayne.

Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox:  We finally get to see Lucius Fox in a live-action Batman film.  Isn't that something?  As important as this character has been in the comics for years, he was never given a strong presence on film.  Until now.  I like Morgan Freeman in some of his movies.  Some of his roles are really great and interesting, and some just don't seem to serve him well.  He should win an award for playing Lucius Fox in this film.  He plays a very intelligent and accomplished inventor, albeit down-on-his-luck given the situation at Wayne Enterprises before Bruce Wayne gains control.  Fox is the one who makes Batman's weapons and crime-fighting tools.  When Wayne and Fox first meet, they're kindred spirits because they were both misplaced in Wayne Enterprises.  Bruce had just come back from being gone for seven years, presumed dead, and without a job.  Fox, who was friends with Bruce's father, designed the train that was so important to Gotham City before the time of Thomas Wayne's death and now he was demoted to the Applied Science division which was a dead-end job to keep him out of the way.  At first he doesn't know what Bruce Wayne really does at nights.  He gradually learns the truth.  Ultimately, when Bruce Wayne finally gets control of Wayne Enterprises from the power-hungry Mr. Earle, Lucius Fox becomes Bruce Wayne's right-hand man in the company.  Morgan Freeman really established this role on screen and I hope we can always see a Lucius Fox in every Batman movie yet to come.

Gary Oldman as Sergeant James Gordon:  Sergeant, you say?  Well, this movie shows us that he wasn't always Commissioner Gordon.  By the end of this movie he's promoted to Lieutenant Gordon.  Finally, an actor that looks and acts like James Gordon from the Batman comics and cartoons.  This is the first time that he was really appropriately played in a live-action show.  I'm a fan of Gary Oldman, anyway.  He's had a lot of great performances in a lot of thrilling movies, usually playing villains.  It's nice to see him as a good guy for a change.  He really has played a variety of parts over the years.  James Gordon is another great achievement.  Gordon is and always was a good, honest cop.  He's not happy with the corrupted legal system of Gotham and neither is Batman.  That is how they become friends and why Gordon sees Batman as a helper and not a menace.  And that is also why he doesn't try to do anything to get Batman arrested, primarily keeping his association with the crimefighter a secret.

Liam Neeson as Ra's Al Ghul:  He can play villains like this in his sleep.  In the film, Batman doesn't really know that Henri Ducard is Ra's Al Ghul until near the end of the film, believing a man he killed earlier was Ra's.  Anyone that has seen the villain in the comics and cartoons knows that he is the real Ra's Al Ghul, but people unfamiliar with Batman will be surprised.  I think that's why this character was used in the film, because he isn't as widely used as Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, or some of the others.  Liam really does look like Ra's Al Ghul from other Batman media.  His Ra's is truly vicious and unforgiving.  A larger-than-life character to become Batman's first nemesis.

Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow:  Dr. Jonathan Crane is insane.  He experiments on inmates of Arkham Asylum, a place for extremely dangerous criminals, with a fear gas that we find out was really developed by Ra's Al Ghul and his League of Shadows fighters.  Crane improves it, tries it out on people, and learns that he can really freak them out...especially when he puts on a creepy-looking mask and calls himself Scarecrow.  In other words, he really takes his work home with him.  Scarecrow is working for Ra's Al Ghul because he thinks Ra's is holding Gotham City for ransom and he can profit from it.  He doesn't know that Ra's just wants to destroy Gotham because he despises all the corruption in the city.  Cillian Murphy really captures the creepiness of Scarecrow in his identity or as the unbalanced Jonathan Crane.  This is another villain uncommon to Batman live-action shows, and I think he really establishes the role as Liam Neeson does with his Ra's Al Ghul.

    Mentioned above are the leading roles and major, major players of the Batman world.  Also outstanding are these performances:

Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes:  Bruce Wayne's love interest since early childhood and currently assistant D.A. who fights injustice against the corrupt Gotham legal system, but is in danger of being wiped out by organized crime boss Carmine Falcone.

Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone:  Ruthless crime boss who controls Gotham City and has bought out most of the cops, judges, and other legal authorities.  He's just absolutely despicable and truly, truly evil.  And when he gets his comeuppance it's truly great.  He's ultimately left a blabbering, insane shell of a man courtesy of Scarecrow's fear gas.

    And to everyone in this film:  you played your parts well and should be proud.  This is an impressive achievement in Batman films.