Batman Begins: a not-so-serious review

Disclaimer: I don't think there are any spoilers in this review. But, with a movie based on a superhero, can you have spoilers? It wasn't intended to be serious, but does seem that way in places. For 'propah', shorter reviews: The Bride and Twisted View, and An interessin post by The Rhymebawd on Batman.


In one of the flashbacks in ‘Batman Begins’, Katie Holmes differentiates between revenge and justice, for the young and recklessly-endangering Bruce Wayne. I don’t quite remember what she said about revenge, but justice, she says, is the restoration of balance between good and evil. While trying to restore the balance between the ludicrous and the realistic, I feel, some injustice has been done to Batman.

Batman comics, the movies, and the fun-when-you-watched-it-silly-when-you-think-about-it TV series, all have relied on abnormalities of the villains to create an interest. Batman was best portrayed by Val Kilmer as the brooding-type in Batman Forever. The villains were crazed men with outrageous appearances. Even with my limited knowledge of Batman villains, I can safely say that Batman Begins had the most believable villains; mad, yes, but not caricatures. Other than his unkempt French beard, Liam Neeson comes across as seriously insane, and is most convincing. His appeal to Bruce Wayne, whom he tutors in the art of the ninja, to choose execution over compassion, shows just how much he believes in his cause, and he remains deluded without being deranged, if you know what I mean.

On a tangent, I think Neeson’s unkempt French beard won the “who’s got the weirder beard” competition against his sidekick Ra's Al Ghul, whose role was unfortunately minimal. Ra's Al Ghul reminded me of Morpheus sitting on a throne, initially. Blue Pill or Red Pill, Bruce? Inexorable or compassionate? One is also left wondering about who the boss was – Ducard (Neeson) or Ra's Al Ghul? If Neeson will be remembered in this movie, it will be because he was a convincing villain, albeit with a limited role; because he wasn’t a caricature. There was desperation in his conviction. The scarecrow too, was very real, and convincingly mercenary, and yet again – not a caricature.

The balance was restored, unfortunately, with the antics of Bruce Wayne. Firstly they made him run around seeking salvation in crime. Secondly, from Batman, they made of him a Batninja. The starting sequence in the mountains was so unfamiliar, that Harneet got up and asked the steward whether we were in the right theatre in the multiplex, or not. Not kidding. (We’d missed the opening credits because we were buying popcorn). I half expected Batman to perform Pai Mei’s Five Point Heart Exploding Technique on Katie Holmes. Deepan said it should have been the other way round, because the hottie’s supposed to use that technique. So I guess he found Pai Mei hot.

The movie borrowed heavily from several other movies: Like Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne climbed the mountain. Then there was a karate kid sequence of training Bruce Wayne that made me feel sleepy. On a positive note, they did not make him paint fences and wax cars; just a dip in ice cold water. The also had Bruce pick up a hallucinogenic flower and take it up the mountain. An egg would have been more difficult, and it would have also helped demonstrate whether or not Bruce would make a good father.

I also found the goody two shoes daddy that Bruce had, trying to cleanse the city and do good blah blah blah, BORING. The most ludicrous comment of the movie, undoubtedly, was the “I’ve left the care of our company to others, while I work at the hospital”. INTERMISSION needed for a chuckling break, no?

And then there was the Spiderman doubt – If I hadn’t wanted to leave the opera early, my parents wouldn’t have been mugged. Grow up Bruce- everyone wants to leave the opera early. If only they’d make the fat lady sing sooner.

I’m not feeling too kind right now, so I’ll give this a 6.5/10. On the whole, this was one of the best batman movies. I almost forgot – Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman were excellent, as usual. Other than the occasional utterance of an accentuated ‘Never’ by Caine as Alfred, he was perfect. Butlers may smile, briefly, but they do not make funny faces when they say ‘Never’. Impalpable was also the first-name relationship between Alfred and Fox (Lucius?). AND, the new Batmobile looks fun, but it’s not cool anymore. It lacks the sleekness and the ‘Wow’ value that the Val Kilmer’s had. It looks like more fun to drive, ramming into and crushing everything in its way, but Batman can not say “It’s the car. Chicks love the car” about the new Bat-tank. The entry to the new bat-cave rocks!

Oh and what's really funny is the change in voice whenever Bruce Wayne puts on the Batsuit.

I tend to nitpick sometimes, so take my review as that. It’s a good movie, comparable to Batman Forever. That the movie focuses on Batman and not the villains was also good. Much better than Batman and Robin, which I couldn’t finish watching, in spite of Alicia Silverstone. I do think Batman Begins has great spoof-potential. That should be proof enough that it’s at least worth watching once. Even thought it’s inappropriately named as Batman Begins, instead of Batninja..

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8 Comments:
Blogger harneet said...

as someone we know might wanna put it succinctly...
THOO!...
and you call yourself a fan? :-)..

btw, bat suit has a voice-altering device or some such nonsense to mask his original voice. its very important.

and i think bale was rather good.

July 07, 2005 9:46 am  
Blogger Deepan said...

i thought you liked the movie !

July 07, 2005 10:15 am  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Arre! 'Tis strange...just because I nitpicked doesn't mean I didn't like the movie. I thought the beginning was bad, and if you see, I've mainly criticised the first half. The second half more than made up for it. I thought Bale was good too.

Didn't know about the voice altering device. Coo!

July 07, 2005 8:22 pm  
Blogger Rhymebawd said...

Haha @ batninja :-P

Went over to the cinema to watch Batman (Hindi) last night - last day, last show and only 12 people.

Will be posting about it.

July 08, 2005 5:37 am  
Blogger Girl said...

HAHAHA @ the Pai Mei reference.

Thank you. You don't know how many people have slammed me for not liking this movie. I didn't hate it, but yes, the spoof potential was immense.

Michael Keaton set the bar high as Batman, IMO. The Tim Burton movie is my favourite.

July 08, 2005 6:50 pm  
Blogger harneet said...

am not sure about michael keaton as the Batman but i agree with the bride that the tim burton movie was good. it was quite loyal to the original strip. and nicholson was awesome, as the manic joker.

July 08, 2005 8:36 pm  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Ditto about Michael Keaton. Not quite the brooding type. Bale's the kid from Empire of the Sun, isn't he?

For me, Val Kilmer set the bar.

This movie seems great, but in comparison with 'Batman and Robin.'

I think the character that I can never forget is the Penguin, played by Danny DeVito. Grotesque.

Tommy Lee Jones' performance as Two-Face was similar to that of Jack Nicholson's, wasn't it?

July 11, 2005 12:30 am  
Blogger Maverick said...

Here's something to think about -

1. Detective Gordon destroys the railbridge pilon using the "bat-tank". Why didn't Batman do it himself???? He wouldn't need more than 1 try :D
2. Microwaves can't penetrate metal (I heard @ this someplace...) So, how did the villains use the microwave device on the city's water supply pipes ???

LOL @ Pai Mei reference...

July 12, 2005 5:23 pm  

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