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The Dark Knight Trilogy Begins
I saw ‘Batman Begins’ at the cinema in 2005!
In 2017, I had ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’ DVD box set for Christmas. I’d seen other incarnations of ‘Batman’ beforehand, including the Adam West era from the 1960s and the four original ‘Batman’ movies from 1989 to 1997. I was looking forward to revisiting this bolder and darker era of ‘Batman’.
I was pleased that the DVD box set I received had the 2-disc Special Editions of ‘Batman Begins’, ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. It’s so rare to get 2-disc DVD editions of movies these days and it’s great that I’d gained them through this film trilogy, as they represent a popular ‘Batman’ era.
Like I said, I saw ‘Batman Begins’ at the cinema. In fact, ‘Batman Begins’ was the very first ‘Batman’ film I ever saw at the cinema. Seriously! I never saw any of the original ‘Batman’ film at the cinema, especially ‘Batman & Robin’. So I was lucky to have this ‘Batman’ film as the first one at the cinema.
I expected this ‘Batman’ movie to be dark and gritty where you couldn’t find a seat in the cinema. That’s exactly what ‘Batman Begins’ does and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s action-packed, dark and gritty from beginning to end. It also has a strong story that’s well-crafted and with strong characters.
It’s important to note that ‘Batman Begins’ literally features the origin story of the dark winged avenger. This is something that’s never been explored properly in the original ‘Batman’ movies. Neither was it explored in the comics, which was interesting to discover when I watched this movie.
‘Batman Begins’ is directed by Christopher Nolan, who delivers a dark and edgier reinvention of the Dark Knight superhero. There’s a serious tone to the movie and the comedic aspects that were found in previous ‘Batman’ films are gone. It allows the audience to believe this world Batman is in.
The movie stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman. I like how this movie explores Bruce Wayne’s character rather than just focus on Batman. The film focuses on how Bruce became the Dark Knight avenger and the choices he makes in rescuing every person in Gotham City from crime.
Now I’m not familiar with any ‘Batman’ comics nor have I read them. But watching this movie didn’t have me worry about that, since I found this story very gripping and intense. It was intriguing to explore the origins of ‘Batman’ in this film and not rely too much on the comic book source material.
The movie begins with Bruce Wayne serving a prison sentence for theft in Bhutan. He then meets a mysterious man named Henri Ducard who trains him to be a member of the League of Shadows. We then have some flashbacks explaining how Bruce ended up inside prison in Bhutan in the first place.
Now I must admit, this was confusing when I watched the movie as it took me a while to realise these were flashbacks of Bruce’s life we were cutting to whilst he was being trained in the League of Shadows. But after watching this again, I have been able to gain clearer idea on how the story works.
This movie doesn’t just feature the scene of Bruce as a boy seeing his parents murdered in Gotham City. It also explores how it affects Bruce when he’s growing up and how his fears almost turn him into a bad man. There’s a point when Bruce is considering killing the man who murdered his parents.
But it’s not just those fears that Bruce has with the criminal world of Gotham City. He also has to face his fear of bats when he was a kid. This is something that he attempts to overcome when he’s training in the League of Shadows, who tells him he must purge his fears to fight for justice in his life.
It eventually turns out that the League of Shadows is intent on destroying Gotham City, as they believe it’s beyond saving. Bruce eventually refuses to continue with the League’s aims and soon escapes after fighting them and burning their temple down. Bruce returns to Gotham to fight crime.
After that, we see how Bruce becomes Batman by setting up his base in the caves beneath Wayne Manor and using his childhood fear of bats to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies. He gains help from his butler Alfred and Wayne Enterprises’ archivist Lucius Fox to make his Batman artillery.
Christian Bale is very good as Bruce Wayne/Batman. He drives the story forward with his performance and demonstrates how he embraces the vigilante role of Batman to fight crime. I like how Christian Bale plays it seriously when he’s simply Bruce Wayne and he’s in the mask as Batman.
Michael Caine stars as Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler in the movie. I didn’t realise that Michael Caine was in ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ when I saw this movie. Michael Caine is brilliant as Alfred in this film and I did like the surrogate father relationship he forms with Bruce Wayne here.
Liam Neeson stars as Henri Ducard, who mentors Bruce in martial arts. And yes I know Liam Neeson was the voice of Aslan in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ movies as well as Qui-Gon Jinn in ‘Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace’. I like how the twist in Ducard’s character develops in this movie.
Katie Holmes stars as Rachel Dawes, the love interest for Bruce Wayne in this movie. Rachel has been friends with Bruce since childhood. I like how Rachel seems to be a moral support for Bruce and that she’s not a typical damsel in distress as many love interests would be in superhero movies.
Gary Oldman stars as James Gordon, the Gotham City police officer who befriends Batman in the movie. I like how Gordon seems to put his trust in Batman when crime-ridden activities occur in the city. Batman also interacts with Gordon a lot when relating the terrible things happening in Gotham.
Morgan Freeman stars as Luicus Fox, a high-ranking Wayne Enterprise’s employee who works in the Applied Science Division of the company. Morgan Freeman has done many films over the years including ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. I like the understanding between Bruce and Fox in the film.
Cillian Murphy stars as Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow. Yeah, it took me a second watch of to realise that there was another ‘Batman’ villain from the comics in this movie. Crane creates a fear-inducing toxin to weaken the population of Gotham City. He also dons a scarecrow mask when he’s the Scarecrow.
Tom Wilkinson stars as Carmine Falcone, the most powerful Mafia boss in Gotham City. I’ve seen Tom Wilkinson before as he was in the 1994 BBC production of ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’. I enjoyed that moment when Falcone gets pulled out of his car by Batman, before Batman reveals his name to him.
Rutger Hauer stars as William Earle, the CEO of Wayne Enterprise who takes charge of the company during Bruce’s seven-year absence. It seems that Earle’s not the clean-cut man to be in charge of Bruce’s father’s company, especially when he starts firing good employees like Lucius Fox in the film.
Ken Watanabe stars as Ra’s al Ghul in the film, who Bruce meets when he goes under training by Ducard in the film. It soon transpires that this isn’t the real Ra’s al Ghul as he was assigned to impersonate him and is just a member of the League of Shadows. Not sure I fully understand this bit.
The film’s biggest star of course is the Batmobile. I like how the Batmobile in these ‘Dark Knight’ movies is like a big tank and it means business when Batman uses it to fight crime. It was pretty intense when the Batmobile was driving out at night and when Batman has Rachel Dawes with him.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a good ‘Batman’ film without having bats in it. And the bats are used more frequently in this version of ‘Batman’ compared to previous movie versions. It was pretty terrifying to see actual bats in this ‘Batman’ movie, but it served to make this a gritty, darker version.
The film’s music is composed by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. I’ve heard film music composed by these guys before and to have them work together to compose music for this film is astounding. I found the music very compelling, especially with the central Batman theme in the film.
The DVD special features for the 2-disc Special Edition are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a theatrical trailer for the movie.
On Disc 2, there’s an ‘Inner Demons Comic’. This is a part of the DVD where you explore the Special Features through an exclusive Interactive Comic Book. Or if you want to explore the Special Features in a standard DVD menu, you’ll have to go to the very end of the ‘Inner Demons Comic’. There are a number of documentaries including ‘Batman – The Journey Begins’; ‘Shaping Mind and Body’; ‘Gotham City Rises’; ‘Cape and Cowl’, ‘Batman – The Tumbler’; ‘Path To Discovery’; ‘Saving Gotham City’ and ‘Genesis of the Bat’. There are also ‘Confidential Files’; an ‘Art Gallery’ and more.
‘Batman Begins’ is truly an epic beginning to this era of the Dark Knight. I enjoyed seeing this movie at the cinema and enjoyed seeing it again on DVD. Christian Bale delivers a stupendous performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Christopher Nolan delivers an innovative reimagining of the superhero.
I knew that this version of ‘Batman’ would return to the cinema screens. I wasn’t an immediate ‘Batman’ fan back then, but I didn’t mind seeing another film with this Batman at the cinema. This superhero movie felt grown-up and I was looking forward to what laid ahead for Batman next time.
‘Batman Begins’ rating – 9/10
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