Batman Beginagain

I remember sitting through some movie previews earlier this spring when I saw the preview for Batman Begins. I wasn’t aware they were doing a prequel, but I thought, “Huh, looks ok but it’s going to be dragged down by the weight of the franchise.” The Batman franchise has suffered more than any other movie property in the last 20 years, and not being particularly fond of the comic books I felt that Overproduced Hell was where it deserved to stay for Eternity. I brightened a bit when I found out they were redoing the franchise, not providing a prequel.

Batman was the movie industy’s first modern day run-through with a famous comic book property, and I still think it was a great movie. It’s hard to picture anyone else but Jack Nicholson playing the Joker, and Keaton’s Batman was really great (though his Bruce Wayne was a bit off). Tim Burton was THE director at the time to bring Gotham to life on the screen. The problem with the movie was mainly that it played to an Action Movie crowd straight up: here’s your hero, he beats up some thugs, he dashes off some one liners, he has a climactic battle on top of a very tall building, he saves the girl, he tries to save the villian in the end, villian double-crosses him, villian ends up splat on the ground… with a laughing bag in his breast pocket.

Batman Returns started the slow descent into shittiness for the franchise. It showcased the one overarching theme of then-Hollywood’s vision of Batman: the movie must not be about Batman. It must be all about ever larger-than-life villians played by box-office superstars. To be fair, the spin-the-bottle style of Batman/Bruce Wayne casting in later movies also played to this but no matter who wore the black suit, the plot centered on the villian (his origins, his motives, his “master plans,” and his unique powers/gimmicks). The reasoning is clear: “Everyone knows who Bruce Wayne is! Why waste valuable screen time giving him motives, narratives, or feelings! He’s just a dude who’s parents got shot, he fell in a hole, PLAH-DAOU!! You’ve got a masked vigilante fighting guys who dress up like clowns! Now… the clown: there’s an interesting story! Why would a criminal dress up like a clown?! Get me Jack Nicholson for the clown and it’s a go!”

The Batman series continued to deteriorate until, by the fourth abortion of a movie, I stopped watching altogether. Do I want to see Arnold Fucking Swazzledoodle in another role where he belts out stupid one-liners with gusto and then heads over to Craft Services to pick up a Butterfinger? No. Do I want to see the end result of Hollywood GrassFucking Producers fucking around with the Batman universe? No. Batgirl, Robin, Batcat, Batdog? Do I want to see Alfred serve Master Bruce dinner but then hilariously fart while putting down the plate? No. These are not things that appeal to me.

Batman Begins? It appealed to me. Holy shit on a kringle, they cast someone as Dr. Crane/Scarecrow who I’d never heard of before! The main villian doesn’t speak in one-liners! The villianous plan actually makes some modicum of sense! Jesus, Hollywood, did you actually not meddle in the making of a movie for once?

Batman Begins opens with a stunning 40 minutes of no Batman. You see, to do a movie about how Bruce Wayne created Batman (and for said movie actually be good) perhaps you should actually spend some time telling how Bruce came to be the man he is. To that end, we witness Bruce’s training at the hands of the League of Shadows. There is only one word I can type to re-create the utter awesomenicity of this part of the movie: NINJAS. Not the mutant turtle variety, but historically true ninjas. It is not often I lean over to someone in a movie and say, “This is awesome,” but I did it to Erin last night.

To be completely honest, I thought I had gotten my money’s worth by the time Bruce returned to Gotham ready to become a crime-fighter. Then they just had to go all-out cool and give me a comic book movie with villian in addition to the background of Bruce Wayne. I appreciated the sentiment, Christopher Nolan (director of Memento and Insomnia [which, by the way, is another awesome movie]) and I won’t forget it.

One of the other great things about the movie is the way we see Jim Gordon (holy shit! I just checked and Gordon is played by Gary Oldman, who I totally didn’t recognize last night) and the way his relationship with Batman develops.

I’ll end with this hard-to-come-by-in-Hollywood priase for this movie: with the minor exception of one detail, it just makes sense. So many movies these days treat the audience like grade-A fuckwads who can’t piece together a storyline. The end result is one where you walk out of the theater and go, “Umm, how could he escape by blowing ahole in the wall of the cell when we saw them take away his GigantoGun before putting him in there?” Apart from the fact that its a comic-book movie (and therefore inherently unrealistic), I liked the fact that, given the situations people were in, they acted in ways that permitted me to suspend disbelief.

So from what I hear, they’ve already signed up everyone to do at least one, possibly two sequels to Batman Begins. If they turn out at all like this one I’ll definitely be going. Here’s to Hollywood not coming in and ass-raping a good movie with good actors and good director with more goddamned Bat-Nipples.

The Verdict: 9.0/10.0


12 thoughts on “Batman Beginagain

  1. Awesomenicity: The level of awesome an item possesses (motherfuck that’s a lotta s’s). Generally measured on a scale (from lowest to highest):Don’t You Dare Put Awesome In The Paragraph As This Thing (example: Baby Geniuses)Not Awesome (example: Are We There Yet?. see also: The Greatest American Hero when watched in a non-ironic fashion)Awesome (example: The Greatest American Hero when watched in an ironic, drunk fashion. see also: Wet Hot American Summer)Fucking Awesome (example: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. see also: Bat Begins)The Unnamed (example: don’t think there is one. if you were to encounter something of this level of awesomenicity, you would probably shit your pants with *GLEE*)And there you have it.

  2. You’ve read Batman: Year One, right? Although the movie isn’t really based on it, except maybe in spirit, its a damn fine read if you’re interesting in a good Batman story.

  3. very good review. due to my somewhat flexible work schedule, i think i’ll check out the cheapo afternoon show tomorrow afternoon. disbelief, prepare to be suspended.

    also note, hollywood, Batman.Begins-cd1.bin, Batman.Begins-cd1.cue, Batman.Begins-cd2.bin, AND!#@%!#% Batman.Begins-cd2.cue are all on my hard drive ready to be viewed freely in my livingroom… and you know what, i’m going to get fucked up tomorrow at 11am and go catch this flick at the theater down the street, all because a trusted friend gave a positive review. perhaps if you made more movies that people would recommend, rather than rely on your paid tv monkeys to recommend lies, that you would actually make more money per movie…. is it really that hard? i mean, i could help.

    also, josh kristopeit is married. i seen it. doves flew.

  4. By the way scientist, if you go to the movie, I’d be interested to know what you think is the “minor exception” to the “it just makes sense” opinion I had. I was able to get over it for the sake of the story. I’m not sure you’ll be able to, but I’m curious.

  5. the wedding was fine, but it was seriously the worst DJ i’ve ever seen in my life. i’m not exaggerating. worst dj ever. you don’t believe me? how about this: electric slide, then macarena (sp?), then electric slide AGAIN, and then heavy metal. i just got up and went home.

  6. also, he said kristopeit wrong, then asked for the brides father to come dance (i don’t know the story but he isn’t in her life anymore, so it was kind of bad)… the bride had told the dj that her grandfather would be dancing… then later she told the dj that it was her uncle and aunts anniversary and to call them up to dance, the dj then asked for the grandma and grandpa to come dance for their anniversary (um… no)… the grandma is of course dead. there were about 5 more blunders, many many people hated him.

  7. Wow. That is bad. The wedding erin and I were at the other week (up in Two Harbors, MN) also had a DJ who played no dance music whatsoever. I guess the crowd was bonkers for him, and afterwards I heard so many oldy oldersons saying how “the music was just so great!” My mom turned to me at one point and said, “Is he ever going to play good music?” She scored points there, so I obliged her and went to request “Bang It” by Frontline. Needless to say they didn’t have it. I did rock out with my cock out to Back in Black, though.

    Skeezer, if you ain’t heard “Bang It” by Frontline yet I suggest you get it. The very finest in Bay Area/E.A.Ski-ish rap. Also you probably don’t get Keak Da Sneak on your backwoods radio, so try to get “Supahyphy” (or maybe “Superhyphy,” you never know what crazy derivitives of English those rappers are going to use next.)

  8. i give the movie 7.5/10… but it was 7.5 throughout. solid entertainment, but it never really peaked for me. very good set up for a movie with planned sequels though.

    i’m guessing the minor exception is where did he learn to fight off all the chinamen in the prison? right?

  9. i’m guessing the minor exception is where did he learn to fight off all the chinamen in the prison? right?Not exactly. The evil plan was to use the microwave emitter to vaporize all the water in the mains and release the fear chemical into the city. Good plan except that human beings are made mostly of water, so the machine should have caused all humans within range to explode as the water in their bodies vaporized. Hoom, I thought it was fairly obvious.

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