Batman has always been my favorite superhero, he was always the darker and more troubled character. I was most surprised when I saw this film, we finally get a realistic approach to this story.
As the title tells us, much of this film focuses on how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman and why. Introducing more background information makes us closer to the character as well as knowing information such as his troubled childhood, his parents brutal murder and his fear of bats. Thus putting us on a more emotional level with the character, possibly relating to him in some way.
Directed by Christopher Nolan who, since that film has been nominated for 3 academy awards, is known for his success in “Memento,” “Inception,” “The Dark Knight” and “Insomnia.”
His films have always shared similar dark, ominous vibe; an example being “Insomnia” when Al Pacino is tiptoeing through a foggy Alaskan forest in search for a killer. In my opinion using fog, smoke and shadows have always been more disturbing than any other special effect. This is one of the main reasons I liked “Batman Begins.”
Similar to the way Daniel Craig portrays the new cold, heartless and emotionless James Bond, Christian Bale gives a similar performance as Batman. Staying away from the special effects, Nolan manages to give both Batman and Gotham City an eerie disturbing aura by using the elements found at night; fog, shadows, sudden movement and whispers.
Batman Begins opens in some foreign prison cell. We see our main character, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) being subject to the horrors of prison; random beatings, tortures and frequent fights with other inmates. After the scenes of brutality, Wayne is rescued by the equally mysterious character of Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson).
It is Ducard that trains Wayne in the jiu jitsu style of fighting, mind control, weapons training and the art of surprise that batman uses. Ducard attempts to enlist Wayne in his gang, “The League of Shadows.” Similar to a gang initiation, Bruce must kill a man to show he has the guts to be a member of this crime fighting organization. When he declines, Ducard goes from the rescuer to the villain.
Upon his return to Gotham City, which is loosely based on Chicago, Bruce lives the life of a hermit seen reminiscing with only his butler, Alfred (played by Michael Caine) and his childhood friend, Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes). While Bruce walks throughout his home, decorated in the same manner as his parents before their deaths, Bruce has the tendency of having childhood flashbacks.
As Bruce walks through his fathers study, he notices various objects which have intrinsic value to them which causes these memories to be uncovered. While looking at his fathers Stethoscope, Bruce remembers playing with it as a child and remembers all the good his father did for Gotham; showing us that Bruce was not only attached to his father (played by Linus Roache) but the Stethoscope represents physical healing as well as the healing of Gotham. As Wayne turns into the character of Batman, that is one of his parameters – healing Gotham City.
Not only was Bruce’s father a medical doctor, but he (Wayne Enterprises) was also responsible for constructing a free railway system that ran through Gotham and weeding out the local government corruption. During Bruce’s childhood, under the close protection of the evil world by his father, Bruce had to witness his parent’s brutal murder and the killers lack of justice. That lawlessness has a large impact on Batman’s character.
After his parents died, Wayne Enterprises is given a greedy and power-hungry associate (Rutger Hauer). We see a nasty transition in Gotham City after the companies new management; we see it riddled with drugs, crime, poverty and rampant, “Mad Max” style gangs.
With the help from his late-father’s top science adviser, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Bruce becomes the masked vigilante. Inspired by a childhood well accident, Bruce turned into the one thing he was most afraid of, Bats. He eventually overcomes that fear and incorporates it into his character.
During the day, Bruce assumes the role of the Hugh Hefner type bachelor. He is rich, handsome and often gets drunk at parties and makes a fool of himself. Although he always leaves the party with a new girl in his arm, he has never managed to have the same feelings as he does for Rachel.
Since their childhood, Dawes has managed to become a lawyer, assuming the role as Gotham’s ADA. Attempting to end the corruption, Rachel and Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) attempt to take on the local syndicate leader, Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson). What Rachel and Gordon do not realize is that the main source of corruption is not from Falcone but from inside Gotham’s government. Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy) a.k.a Scarecrow is a corrupt psychiatrist who, similar to other psychiatrists, likes to lock his enemies up and declare them insane. Crane plans to release a deadly hallucinogenic toxin into Gotham’s water supply using an enormous vaporizer that, when inhaled, will tear Gotham from the inside out.
In the second half of the film, the actual character of Batman (more alter-personality) is introduced. In the previous batman films, Clooney, Kilmer, Keaton and West all show batman as this proud, perfect individual that never take chances and always fights for others, never himself. In “Batman Begins” we get a different approach. As seen lurking in the gloomy and foggy heights of Gotham City, Batman is more of a clumsy, risk-taker. Often taking chances, doing rash things and attempting to revenge his parents.
The previous films were also always obsessed with special effects and excessively choreographed fighting scenes. “Batman Begins” has only a few fight scenes and uses many dark and ominous shots rather than cheery and courageous scenes. Batman is not supposed to be like a superman character, he is a more cold and mentally unstable. Bale does a perfect job at depicting this. Depicted as the Ted Bundy type serial killer in “American Psycho” and as a paranoid schizophrenic in “The Machinist” he has proven to be perfect for this role.