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Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins
I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it. There’s been so much hype that my expectations had gone so high. Yet, from previous Batman experiences, I knew that chances were I’d just get another one of those made-for-movie cartoon kind of thing complete with caricatures for Batman’s enemies.
I was so glad to be proved wrong. Batman Begins was quite an experience. I had already picked up the latest Harry Potter book and was quite prepared to let Batman play in the background while I read. But, no offense to J. K. Rowling, I did put Harry Potter down. Batman Begins was engrossing. It was chilling and sinister and macabre in all its darkness. But it also humanized broth Bruce Wayne and Batman (Christian Bale). It gave depth to the substance of Wayne’s self-proclaimed mission to fight crime in Gotham City. While, in the past, it always seemed that crime fighting was some sort of noble luxury for this lonely billionaire bachelor, this time, it was the logical path for a young man who spent years trying to discern the difference between justice and revenge and learning to conquer fear.
Spurned as a spoiled young man who knew nothing about the hard life and crime, Bruce Wayne lived on the streets thieving his way through and ended up in prison. He was tutored in the ancient ninja (definitely not samurai) traditions by the mysterious Ducard (played by Liam Neeson--my first reaction was how could he beat a Jedi in a swordfight hehehe), he learned that strength meant more than physical prowess. The turning point came when, as part of his lessons, he was handed a sword to execute a criminal. There, his bond with his mentor ended. He refused to become a killer. It was also then that Bruce Wayne learned why Ducard took him under his wing--he was being trained to destroy Gotham City.
In a fire that razed Ducard’s home, Bruce Wayne saved Ducard’s life without the latter ever knowing it. The next time they met, Ducard set Wayne Manor on fire, thinking it was payback time.
The cinematography was simply breathtaking. Don’t know if it can properly be categorized as a real noir film but I must say it was definitely heavily influenced by the genre. There were scenes that left me wondering when I would ever get a chance to capture such marvelous lighting on photograph. Of course, I know that most of the visual effects were digitally manipulated but, still… While Wayne Manor burned, I could almost smell the smoke. Well, until I realized that the toast was burning in the oven. Turned out that the smell of smoke was real enough.
The musical score by Hans Zimmer provided just the right mood. Ah, the man’s stuff is simply great. I’ve loved Hans Zimmer’s music since Miami Vice but I especially loved his work in The Lion King. He did a wonderful job in Batman Begins.
Batman Begins is one film where a stellar supporting cast does not upstage the lead character. Big names like Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Rutger Hauer delivered memorable performances but never in such a way that they took the focus off Batman/Bruce Wayne. I have to say something about Katie Holmes, don’t I? Well, I didn’t see anything to rave about in her performance. It wasn’t bad. But is wasn’t all that good either. Anyway…
So, is Batman Begins quite the perfect film? Not really. There were a few loose ends. Like what was Ducard’s big obsession with destroying Gotham City? It even appeared that the obsession’s predated his meeting with Bruce Wayne. He had been trying to destroy Gotham City during the lifetime of Bruce’s parents and the latter had been thwarting Ducard’s objective. The reason given was because it had become too crime infested. But then, so...??? Ang nipis naman na dahilan nun.
As a final note, let me clarify that the bats did not bite the young Bruce Wayne and give him super powers. The bats symbolized his fear. He fell down a shaft full of bats as a young boy and the experience left an irrational fear. Later on, he would go down the same shaft and immerse himself among the bats. To conquer fear, you must become fear itself, so said Ducard. That was why Bruce became Batman.