Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Pretty darn good. What a relief. A few thoughts:

Casting Michael Caine as Alfred was a masterstroke. I enjoyed that he was given a more central role in Bruce Wayne's crimefighting project, in keeping with Frank Miller's interpretation. Not just bringing him soup down the Batcave or making excuses for him when he has to abruptly leave dinner, but serving as Bruce's adviser, confessor, and combat medic.

Gary Oldman was also quite good as Jim Gordon, and the presence of his character corrected what I think was a mistake from Tim Burton's Batman, which played up the good/evil twin nature of the Batman-Joker relationship. Batman's twin is not the insane villain, but the honest, working class, (mostly) by-the-book cop. And Batman's not the good twin.

The presence of Morgan Freeman makes any movie better.

The whole League of Shadows plotline I could've taken or left. I love me some Liam Neeson, I actually thought he would have been the best possible choice to play Batman in 1989, but the whole Bruce-Wayne-trains-to-become-a-super-badass aspect could've been better handled with a simple montage, you know, a little capoeira in Brazil, some kendo in Japan, kali in the Philippines, head-butt training by some Scottish footballers, etc. I've got nothing against ninja-monks, friends, but it just took a little too long to get to Batman whupping up in Gotham.

Katie Holmes, eh. Every time she came on screen I started hearing that blasted Paula Cole song from Dawson's Creek, which I've somehow internalized even though I've never watched more than a few minutes of that show.

One minor change that I didn't like was having the Wayne family attending an opera before the murder. In the comic they see The Mark of Zorro, which obviously has a lot more resonance for the story. True, making young Bruce's panic attack the reason they left the theater was interesting touch, but on the other hand I think having your parents shot before your eyes is more than enough trauma to induce an eventual psychotic break.

Finally, Christian Bale. I thought he was great. Haughty and entitled as Bruce Wayne, all deranged menace as Batman. It was an excellent choice by the director to only rarely and briefly give us a shot of Batman's full form, much like in Alien. The bottom line is that I think this film, both in the script and Bale's performance, really got The Batman as a myth. I'm looking forward to the next one.

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