Batman Begins: Evil Fears the Knight (2005)

Posted: December 21, 2011 in Action, Crime, Drama

Bruce Wayne has a troubled past. His parents were killed in a back alley after his family left an opera. Inheriting immense wealth and a big responsibility to take over Wayne Enterprises, Bruce travels to the Far East to find himself. While fighting in slum-like areas, he is discovered by Henri Ducard and brought to a temple to train. Seeking vengeance for his family, his training comes in handy as he learns that Henri and Ra’s Al Ghul plan to travel to Gotham City and take down the metropolis. Upon returning to Gotham, he explores the potential of cleaning up the city as a masked vigilante, the Batman. Between the rising mob presence and the corrupted Dr. Jonathan Crane, Batman seizes his chance to make a difference. While temporarily halted, Ducard, now acting as Ra’s Al Ghul, still seeks the destruction of Gotham and sets his sights on destroying one of Gotham’s only symbol of prosperity and generosity, Wayne Tower.

Starring: Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne), Michael Caine (Alfred), Liam Neeson (Henri Ducard), Katie Holmes (Rachel Dawes), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon), Cillian Murphy (Dr. Jonathan Crane), Tom Wilkinson (Carmine Falcone), Ken Watanabe (Ra’s Al Ghul)

In this reboot of the Batman franchise, the cast was cleverly selected to avoid the comical elements of the 90s version of the story. Leading the way is Christian Bale, who certainly presents a much more elegant and sophisticated version of Bruce Wayne than Keaton, Kilmer and Clooney did in each of their chances. As Batman, he deepens his voice but actually does come off as menacing and stalwart. Though Michael Gough was certainly a lovable version of Alfred, Michael Caine fits the feel of this story. He is a bit more active and expresses a great intelligence that matches the needs of his wealthy ward. Of the two villains, Liam Neeson is much more surprisingly deceptive for those who do not know the Batman lore. His character goes from mentor to combatant and matches Batman in both his wit and fighting skill. Cillian Murphy is much more clearly evil and psychotic, which is only fitting to take a less menacing villain and give him a bit more teeth. Using a hallucinogenic powder, Murphy is able to create a more supernatural addition to a film that tries to stay more in the realm of realism. To provide a love interest, Katie Holmes serves as Bruce’s childhood friend and Gotham legal defender. She is important to the story for Bruce’s standpoint of his past but not necessarily in his growth into a hero. Additionally, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon support Bale’s two halves of his whole character.

When Christopher Nolan signed on to recreate the Batman series, he observed the presentation of the 90s films and knew that there was a much darker story to tell. The original character was more of a detective and then transformed into the vigilante Dark Knight. There was not a more comical presentation of the series until it reached television. Knowing all of this, Nolan set out to redefine the classic Batman character and his surrounding universe. The city of Gotham feels like a place that is fallen under hard times. The cinematography uses a lot of neutral and low tones to create a sense of a bleak existence for its inhabitants. This theme is also maintained during Bruce’s discovery and training process in the mountains. Rather than sporting neon-lit weaponry, the Scarecrow uses a hallucinogen to paralyze his victims and Ra’s Al Ghul is only armed with extensive martial art training and discipline (nothing supernatural). Bruce is also much more vulnerable and appears to be at the early stage of his career with a combinations of mistakes and miscalculations.

With a new series comes a new set of expectations. Nolan only wanted to sign on for three films to reboot the series and realize the darker version of the Gotham universe. The mob is not just a never-ending set of criminals for Batman to clean up. They create a series of challenges that both distract and disarm Batman’s ability to focus on the central villains. One example ends up being with the man to kill his parents. Bruce is seen in a desperate act ready to kill Joe Chill, but the mob gets to him first. This emotionally challenges Bruce and serves as the impetus for his decision to leave home. Along with the mob also are legal challenges. Though the second film contains more of the legal conversation, Katie Holmes serves as the Assistant District Attorney trying to keep these dangerous men behind bars and battle with the corrupted Dr. Crane who would rather send them to a mental institution as patients. Since he is manipulating these men, he is aiding in the creation of an army of violent criminals effected by the hallucinogen.

This is a much more intelligent and intricate Batman than any previous live-action film. The dark presentation makes for a very enjoyable experience and one that sets up the story for success with future films. The Dark Knight has already been released and succeeded to capture the world with the incredible characters of the Joker and Two-Face, and the upcoming Dark Knight Rises can only be seen as a film to cap one of the best trilogies is movie history.

Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5

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