A Triumphant Return For The Caped Crusader
After the batch of Batman films released in the 90s were met with mixed audience reception, Christopher Nolan’s decision to revive the caped crusader for a new generation was met with understandable scepticism. Intent on telling a gritty, realistic origin story for Bruce Wayne and his later alias Batman without the camp goofiness in previous iterations, Batman Begins is a well written, grounded story that manages to nail the feel and world of Gotham rarely seen on the big screen. Christian Bale’s performance is one of both stature and competence; realistically depicting Batman as the conflicted antihero he always was in the comics and delivering one of the best Batman films ever released.
Inevitably, Bruce Wayne’s anguish following his parents’ death form the core of his character and much like previous Batman films, Batman Begins shows this tragedy in full. What follows from here is the subsequent training and moulding of Bruce Wayne into the cool, calm antihero stalking the streets of Gotham. For much of the film though Batman Begins focuses much more on Bruce’s character arc before an action-packed finale solidifies Batman’s place as the fabled crime fighter of Gotham. Subverting expectations, Batman Begins takes a different approach to its antagonist, using Scarecrow and his nerve gas as the perfect foe for Bruce to test his newly formed abilities against.
Unlike the previous films that took a much more colourful, lighthearted approach to the dark knight’s portrayal, Batman Begins defiantly steers clear of this, instead portraying a bleak, grim city consumed by crime and succumbed to greed and despair. Gotham is arguably the most realistic it’s ever been depicted on the big screen and not since Batman Returns has the city felt as dangerous and unforgiving as the charismatic villains inhabiting the world. It’s a small touch but one that really helps nail the overall feel and aesthetic of the world.
With a talented cast of actors at the helm, Batman Begins’ acting is impressively showcased too. Christian Bale puts in a very compelling performance as Bruce Wayne; a mixture of arrogance and charisma contrasts nicely with his intimidating, muscular stature as Batman. The rest of the cast are equally as compelling too with the only character feeling a little archetypal here being Rachel but her performance is still good, highlighting what great work the cast has done to make this the best Batman film yet.
In many ways Batman Begins is actually the more impressive entry in the latest trilogy of Batman films. Winning over the highly critical and weary fans following the goofy, camp 90s films was always going to be a tough ask but Batman Begins effortlessly nails the mood and tone of the film within the opening 15 minutes. From here, the rest of the film tells the origin story of Bruce Wayne in a compelling, authentic way that feels both fresh and exciting. It’s hard to fault Batman Begins and it’s easy to see why, Christopher Nolan has done a staggeringly good job bringing Batman to a new generation of film-goers and this time the gritty realism gives fans something to cheer for in a hero that had largely lost its way.
Verdict - 9/10