June 20, 2005

BATMAN BEGINS
Christopher Nolan, 2005

7.0
am i the only who felt this movie was compromised? yes it's darker, yes it's closer to Batman Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, but i kept finding myself not getting into the film. why? well, for starters, Bruce Wayne's training sequence, which starts out fine and although very extensive (even more so by summer blockbuster standards) appears to be over incredibly quickly. it must have been months but it felt like it was over in a matter of days. (and the overbearing score didn't help anything.) then there's the editing of the action sequences which felt all wrong. there was "action happening" all over, in quick cuts and jarring hitting sounds, but i never felt engaged or part of the drama. i found myself stepping back from it and just looking at it. without any awe or respect for the participants. that's a problem when it feels you want to engage your audience in a bit of Hollywood Action. and then you have the odd addition of the honest-to-goodness groan-inducing one-liners. only the incredibly charming Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine were able to get away with those. the rest of the time they were annoying as hell or, as was the case with the final set piece, just plain got in the way what could have been an awesome action piece. speaking of unnecessary additions, i didn't find Katie Holmes to be irrelevant or boring. her character, though, was superfluous. not in the beginning, but it did end up being just another one-dimensional character who's purpose was to serve the hero. maybe David S. Goyer (the Blade films) had something to do with that? god. he didn't shed the hack label i've put on him with this one. now, you may say to yourselves - there must have been some good parts, though, right? well, yes there were. the horrible parts kept imposing themselves along but there were some good things to come out of this film. one, Christian Bale. although the screenwriters (or screenwriter, because i don't believe Chris Nolan had anything to do with the horrible one-liners), did have Bruce getting to know the desperate side of life and his fears, the public Wayne was annoying at best (save for one funny scene at the hotel), third-rate attempts at mimicking the tired and stereotypical Hollywood action hero, which went out with 1993's aptly-titled Last Action Hero. it was tragic to see them trying to lighten up this superbly dark flick with cheap one-liners. it was a farce. the real saving graces, though, (the few of them) were Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, a dazzling turn by Cillian Murphy, and the surprising return of Gary Oldman. the first two brought class, wit, and effortless charm to the film, while the third went unnoticed by yours truly until i realized which villain he was to become (before realizing who he was, i had an instant vision of who he could become; hopefully the producers or director knew what they were doing when they cast him and will follow up with one of the most inspiring casting choices of at least the past decade), and the fourth gave an elevated, subdued but continually surprising performance as Gordon. the script, by Christopher Nolan and Dave Goyer, does bring up a lot of good content and narrative, and they do put both to good use (especially with Liam Neeson and the themes of fear and loss). it's a fascinating exploitation. there's also the story of Bruce and the loss of his father, which was truly emotional for me, so i guess they did hit a few honest spots here and there. but in the end, i guess the bad parts were what was left in my mouth. i don't even know if i'm glad i saw it in theaters. i'm a bit disappointed (to say the least) and torn (i guess the reason would be that i loved the first half but loathed the second). i loved the idea, the casting choices, and all the pre-release pics while the film was in production. this looked like my kind of film. i was relieved when the release date came. but maybe tonight wasn't my night. i just wasn't into it once it unraveled before my very eyes.

[ holy shit Tom Wilkinson was in the movie! he's the one who gave the superbly unsentimental performance as mob boss Carmine Falcone. kudos to him for that. ]

Posted by Sam | 12:36 AM |