Before Dunkirk is released, I figured I’d revisit Christopher Nolan’s filmography, my marathon began before Silver Screen Swaps was created so I figured I’d just begin my reviews where I am in the marathon. That being one of the most important films ever made. Batman Begins is a revolutionary film. It seemingly brought back Batman from the depths and gave us a hero we could take seriously. It wasn’t just a superhero film, but a drama that just so happened to be about a superhero. It is also the reason we have so many retellings of our favorite film characters, being the sole reason for one of my favorite films ever in Casino Royale. I love Batman Begins and feel that it is always the overshadowed installment in the franchise even though it’s the main reason we got the following two entries. This film changed the superhero genre and film in general.
Batman Begins is the origin story of Batman but it’s actually less about the actual hero of Batman and more so about the man under the mask, billionaire Bruce Wayne (played wonderfully by the always fantastic Christian Bale). We see Bruce as a child and how he had come to fear bats, the thing he eventually uses to instill fear in his enemies. We see the tragedy he had to deal with, which if you’re the rare person who doesn’t know what that is, I won’t spoil it here. We see him leave Gotham and join the league of shadows, a shadowy organization that he hopes to learn how to channel his anger and rage and turn it into a tactic for justice. This is where he meets the man Ducard (Liam Neeson) and where he takes his first steps towards becoming the hero Gotham City needs. In Gotham City, the criminal underworld holds a hand on the city of Gotham’s throat and ultimately controls it. As a new player looks to create chaos, Bruce finally becomes the Bat and looks to stop this chaos before the city of Gotham is unfixable.
This movie right from the start is different in tone and that’s extremely evident. It’s so serious and dark but it never feels like it’s too bleak. There’s levity in the film but it’s rare due to the film keeping with its serious tone and that makes the story so much more investing.
The performances are stellar across the board here and that’s because of just how jam packed this cast is with all-star talent. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson, the cast is stacked. The stand out role here is of course Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/ Batman. He plays virtually three different characters as he has to play Batman, Bruce Wayne when he’s around Alfred and the league of shadows and then eccentric Bruce Wayne when he has to keep a cover. He is fantastic in this film and while I like him as Batman and think he does a great job, I believe he plays a better Bruce Wayne and is perfect in this role.
The Action is really well done too, the stand-out sequences being the fight scene in the League of Shadows temple and the Tumbler chase scene (can we just all agree that the Tumbler is one of the most badass movie vehicles ever?). Nolan uses mostly practical effects and it shows as this movie has aged wonderfully in the 12 years since it was released.
Batman Begins is a fantastic opening chapter to the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy and one of the best reboots of a franchise ever. It is the reason we have some of our favorite entries in our favorite series and for better and for worse, has changed the superhero genre forever.
Up Next: The Prestige