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BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
"Batman Begins" is the prequel to the Batman series that initially begot the tale of the masked hero Batman and his crime figthing efforts to save Gotham city from its latest villain. The prequel gives an indepth insight into the psychological and pyshical shaping of Batman.
Directed by: Christopher Nolan.
Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy / Crime / Thriller
Tagline: "It's not what's underneath
Rated PG13 for frequent action violence, thematic elements, and disturbing images.
Beginning at the height of Wayne Enterprise and its multi-billionaire family, BATMAN BEGINS depicts the comfortable lifestyle of the young Bruce Wayne that is quickly undermined by the sudden death of his parents'. A terrifying childhood experience lingers in Bruce's memory and he continues to connect his fear and in deed blame his fear for the very cause of his parent's deaths. As Bruce sinks into deeper seclusion under the guidance of his faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine), Gotham's golden era begins to wane under corrupt forces with sinister power ploys in mind including the new head of Wayne Enterprises, CEO Earle.
As Bruce (Christian Bale) matures he develops a deeply rooted hate for the man who killed his parents, the latest criminal up for trial whose case is being handled by none other than his child hood best friend Rachel (Katie Holmes). After the criminal is set up and murdered before Bruce's eyes he abandons his family name and his birth city, opting to travel the world and explore the philosophies of the criminal masterminds and villains.
Landing himself in a lockdown prison somewhere in Asia, Bruce's quest to understand the criminal mind is enhanced by his crime saturated environment. But when a man by the name of Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) enters the picture, Wayne is bailed out of prison pending he seeks refuge and training under the protection of underground leader Ra's Al Ghul. Learning the ways of the ninja, the warrior, etc. Bruce develops a deadly combination of defense and fighting philosophies that are to be used as a mode of justice avenging the evil and vice of the world. But Ra's Al Ghul's radical plan borders on criminally insane and Bruce flees Asia and returns to his hometown to try to save it from its forecasted doom.
Imbibing himself in the persona of "Batman", Bruce Wayne begins to construct from scratch the confines, artillery, transportation, even costume of his heroic counterperson. With the help of Alfred and his multi billion dollar assets Bruce quickly gets his crime-fighting scheme up and running. Meanwhile his beloved friend Rachel is vulnerable out on the streets where her idealism provokes trouble with the powerful villain of Gotham city, Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson).
Another villain enters the picture under the guise of a psyche ward doctor, Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy). In cahoots with an unnamed villain of superior terror, Crane is directed to stage the scene for Gotham's destruction via the intoxication of the city's water supply with a potent hallucinogenic whereby its effects will render the society in a paranoid frenzy that will prompt them to destroy one another until no one remains alive. Unleashing his fury, Batman races the clock to save Gotham before it's too late.
A surprise visit from an old acquaintance proves to be a rather tedious set back. With only the alliances of his butler, a noble cop Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Wayne Enterprise's Tec employee Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Batman fights against the good and the bad to prove his name in a doomed city.
BATMAN BEGINS is a special effects wonder. Every scene drips with the brilliance of modern day technology ad its ability to enhance the visual splendor of a film. The special effects played an integral role in bringing to life the fantastic imagination that surrounds the creature of Batman. Detail to setting backdrops and the tight interwoven connections of storyline and setting helps solidly connect the film to its sequel predecessors.
The cast was absolutely top notch. From altered accents to vocal pitch alterations actors like Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and Tom Wilkinson shine in their roles. Morgan Freeman brings a witty banter and lighthearted relief to the serious content of the film and Katie Holmes plays the fragile idealist to a "T". Liam Neeson also did a remarkable job with his character whose ambiguity was central to the film's surprising elements.
Perhaps what is most interesting about BATMAN BEGINS is the humanity of the characters. In Bruce the audience sees the clear struggle of a man attempting to become something more. In the sequels Bruce Wayne is comfortable with his role as Batman, but this film brilliantly conveys that lingering tension of a man conflicted by his double persona. Moreover, whereas the sequels' villains tended to be mystified and mythical, the villains in this film are much more psychological based and grounded in reality. As opposed to frightening the audience with visual displays of the villains uncanny 'being' (The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, Ice Man), the villains of BATMAN BEGINS torture the psyche by literally plunging into the primal fears of man and allowing him to invoke his own nightmares.
Some of the best scenes involve Bruce's transformation from man to creature. A lot of attention went into depicting the physical and psychological transformation that his character underwent to completely immerse himself in the new role of city hero. These scenes are also fundamental in depicting the strengthening of the bond between Alfred and Bruce Wayne that plays a central role in all of the sequels.
In short, if you haven't seen it yet, see it. If you haven't seen the others, it is of no importance. The film is designed to predate the others in content and brilliantly sets up the transition to the following film, "Batman" starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Whereas the following sequels had a tendency to wane in content development from time to time, BATMAN BEGINS emerges as a solid prequel that does justice to the lasting reputation of the story of Batman and all his mythical crime fighting scenarios.
Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne, a student of the criminal mind whose return to Gotham city finds him a billionaire by day, superhero by night.
Michael Caine plays Alfred, the loyal butler and friend to the Wayne family.
Katie Holmes plays Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne's childhood friend and leading district attorney for Gotham City.
Morgan Freeman plays Lucius Fox, one of the only loyal employees of Wayne Enterprises whose allegiance to Bruce is fundamental for the creation of "Batman".
Gary Oldman plays Jim Gordon, the good cop whose virtues contrast distinctly with the vilified legal system of Gotham City.
Liam Neeson plays Henri Ducard, the philosophical warrior whose allegiance to justice forecasts a doomed future for Gotham City.
Tom Wilkinson plays Carmine Falcone, the street tough local villain of Gotham City.
Cillian Murphy plays Dr. Jonathan Crane, the psych ward doctor whose penchant for hallucinogenics is critically connected to the possible doom of Gotham City.