To Celebrate the imminent release of the Dark Night rises I have decide to write my thoughts on the previous two entries as well as my top comic’s in the Batman universe. We will begin with a look at the first film in the series the Excellent Batman Begins
Take yourself back to 2005, the middle of one of the most depressing decades known to mankind. A decade were music finally died, where TV stopped being about drama and became all about ‘reality’ and where cinema finally reached the end of its creativity and decided to just retell every story that went before. I avoided every piece of promotional activity regarding Batman Begins, Supporting a reboot to me went against everything I stood for as a Cinefile. To be honest I had grown weary of really shit comic book movies which continually tried to make a cheap buck by raping my childhood. In the previous ten years from 2005 we had Spawn, three Blade movies, two Spiderman Movies, two X-men movies, daredevil and the Hulk. In that bunch of ten movies I count 2 possibly three movies I would consider re-watching. Don’t get me started on the mess that was Joel ‘Childhood Rapist’ Schumacher’s outrageous Batman and Robin, The previous outing for the Caped Crusader (I’m saving my rant on this film for another feature but I will leave you with one thought PVC Bat Nipples….that is all)
Despite my lack of knowledge and free from the hype I was dragged along by my family who had selected this film for their annual pilgrimage to the cinema. This film was everything I wanted a Batman movie to be and more and set the tone for a series of films that to date have raised the bar and changed what I expect from my comic book movies.
If for some unknown reason you haven’t seen Batman Begins well my short review is It is a fantastic Origin story with a pitch perfect cast, first class story, and excellent direction. I have watched it at least once a year since its release and every time I get something else out of it. I’m not going to get into a huge review on a seven year old film as I don’t think that is what I want to do with this piece. Instead im going to celebrate some of the things I love from the movie.
Like with most of Christopher Nolan films he cultivates an ensemble cast who light up every scene they are in and own their characters completely. Christian bale is textbook as the slick billionaire Bruce Wayne and equally good as the hoarse Whisperer (see what I did there) Batman. To me Bale is Batman he is consumed by the role and embodies everything I wished for in a Dark Knight. As Bruce he pulls off the self-sacrificing hero in Private and the vulgar playboy as his disguise in Public.
Michael Caine I thought initially was a left field choice for Alfred but I now cant imagine a film without him. His performance is strong yet gentle, a source of support and wisdom for Bruce to lean on in his one man crusade against crime. His Character is so beloved now in the series that I feel his death would strike me at my emotional core should the inevitable happen in the Dark Knight Rises…I have my tissues already packed.
Gordon hadn’t to date been faithfully created on Screen, instead reduced to a bumbling inept role. Basically a glorified Batman Hotline. With the casting of Gary Oldman you knew the writers had actually bothered to read a comic. Gordon is one of the most interesting characters in the Batverse. One good cop in a sea of Shit. Oldman plays against his Psychopath persona to create a genuinely likable Hero who stands Shoulder to shoulder with Bats Against our Villains.
Speaking of Villians we are spoiled with a cast of great characters and actors as our Central and periphery Baddies. Liam Neeson plays Father figure, Mentor and homicidal, Ducard/Ra’s Al Ghul. His performance isn’t the best thing in the film but it was a delight to see the Demon’s Head on the big screen and with the removal of an A List Villain the film was allowed to focus on Batman for a change. I personally think this is what makes the movie stand out from the Batman movies of yesteryear. This is a movie about Batman no one else. Cillian Murphy dominates as Scarecrow an actor I have always admired but never seems to get the recognition he deserves. Murphy Plays Crane with a Madness bubbling underneath the surface, he never really releases it until he gets a taste of his own medicine but, it’s a credit to his acting that you can see that it is there. Tom Wilkinson another British institution brings Carmine Falcone to life and Rutger Hauer as Wayne Enterprise Suit, Earle both actors of great pedigree bringing great gravitas to minor yet important characters. After all that I haven’t even mentioned honey voiced academy award nominee Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox another Batman ally.
Its for that reason when Nolan casts someone in a role I trust him even if it seems a strange decision. This man understands film making and when your this good at making them you’re an idiot for questioning him.
Inspired by Frank Millers Batmobile in the Dark Knight Returns the Tumbler is the perfect realistic Batmobile. Again at first I wasn’t sure but after seeing this baby in action I love the fact this was chosen over some cheap dragster.
The Central Theme
The previous four Batman movies aren’t exactly classics. An Argument can be made for the first two but after re-watching I can’t really get past my hatred for Tim Burton’s signature styling’s, they are distracting and take me out of the experience. The theme at the centre of this movie is Fear and taking that fear to make oneself stronger. Nolan was quoted this week as saying Begins was about Fear, The dark Knight was about Chaos and Rises is about Pain. If that doesn’t put the hairs on your neck up nothing will.
This is a simple thing but one of my favourite things about the movie is that he didn’t just come back and become Batman. There was a realistic origin were he had to source materials, hide his purchases had a weird gimp like proto suit whilst he waited for all his parts to make the suit. Small details like that make me very happy.
It’s safe to say I’m fairly excited about TDKR being released this Friday. Do yourself a favour and follow my lead. Re watch the films starting with Begins, if my theories are correct some of the central themes from this film will return to haunt our Hero.