Batman Begins: Movie Review

Y’all, I am so done. I am such a DC movie fan at this point, there’s no turning back–and Batman Begins tipped me over the edge.

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My profuse apologies to friends who are diehard Marvel fans. I think Marvel movies are good, but DC movies are great. I really like Captain America, but neither it nor The Avengers had the same affect on me as the two DC films I’ve seen thus far. Hey, if I, who grew up on classic/historical/fantasy films, am this interested in the lives and fortunes of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, then there’s something about this storytelling that I like.

I know that’s not the popular opinion among most people my age right now, but hey, I reckon most people think I’m weird and backwards and out-of-step anyway 😛

With that said, let me give you my thoughts on Batman Begins. I’m outlining it the same way as I did with my Man of Steel review: synopsis, what I didn’t like, what I did like, and a brief overview of the characters.

(A few small comparisons between Man of Steel and Batman Begins are inevitable in this post. But I’ve got a Batman/Superman post in the works so I’m trying not to steal my own thunder, haha.)

Synopsis

Batman Begins, like Man of Steel, is an “origins” film. We are introduced to Bruce Wayne as a carefree little boy who, while playing with his friend Rachel Dawes, stumbles into a cave. A flock of bats terrify him out of his wits, creating a phobia he carries with him into adulthood. As a boy, he also witnesses the murders of his parents, who are robbed and shot by a desperate criminal.

Wanting to figure out how he can fight crime, Bruce learns to think like a criminal and even works with criminals–until he’s discovered by a man calling himself Ducard, a member of the mysterious League of Shadows. Ducard teaches Bruce how to be a ninja and to master his fears, but after Bruce falls foul with the League, he returns to America and decides to fight injustice on his own. He won’t take the law into his hands, but he will fight for the defenseless.

What I didn’t like about Batman Begins

There’s some humanism . . . pretty subtle, but there nonetheless. One of the prevalent quotes in the film is, “Why do we fall? So we can pick ourselves up.” Unlike in Man of Steel, where the humanism is more along the lines of “Everyone has the potential to be a force for good, i.e., there’s good in all people, i.e., no such thing as total depravity,” in Batman Begins it’s more like “Humans can pick themselves up by their bootstraps.”

Also, God’s Word is the source of true justice, and you can’t change a city from the inside out without the Gospel. Neither truths are acknowledged in Batman Begins.

There were also a few bad words. But only a very few.

What I did like about Batman Begins

Anyone who’s been following this blog knows I’m a strong believer in keeping the baby and throwing out the bathwater. So now that the bathwater’s gone, let’s cuddle the baby 😉

There’s a strong conservative message of noble individuals using their wealth to improve the economic health of their society. Another major lesson is that it doesn’t matter how you were raised or what you aspire to be, but it’s your actions, how you live out your principles, that tell the world where you stand. There’s also clear distinction between true justice vs. personal revenge.

The flawed but admirable hero defends/protects innocent people, but refuses to take the law into his own hands. The heroine is strong and capable, but feminine and determined to stand up for what’s right no matter the cost. There’s also a wonderful example of a father having a profound, positive influence on his son. Perseverance, hard work, and respect for life are upheld as good character qualities.

The Characters

Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale)

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I didn’t expect to like Bruce as much as I did. I thought he was going to be a jerk, so I was pleasantly surprised to find he’s a really good character! Although he has some very real struggles at the beginning of the film, he has a real desire to defend the innocent and become an example to decent people who are too intimidated by rampant corruption to stand up for what’s right.

Bruce is a hard worker: he builds his own super-suit and fashions his old cave of terrors into his secret hideout. He perseveres through some intense physical training, a big necessity if he’s going to be fighting and trussing up criminals through the night. Another admirable character quality is his respect for his father’s memory and for Alfred, his butler and father-figure.

His alter-ego, however, is that of a brainless playboy. (No inappropriate scenes in this film, though, related to that.) This façade irritates his friend Rachel, who insists that what Bruce does with his life will define who he really is.

The scene where Bruce reveals himself to Rachel, then, was very poignant.

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Now I’m really, really upset that Christian Bale won’t play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. He’s so perfect in the role. Ben Affleck, don’t you dare mess this up.

Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine)

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As the butler of Wayne Manor, Alfred becomes Bruce’s father-figure after Thomas and Martha Wayne are murdered. He’s one of the few who knows Bruce’s secret identity and even helps Bruce build the Bat-suit.

I think Alfred may very well be my favorite character. His loyalty and affection towards Bruce is precious. Not only that, but he has some of the best lines in the whole film–all delivered in the most charming British accent.

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Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes)

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This girl! Now this is my kind of heroine. She’s smart, courageous, and principled, but possesses a beautiful, tender heart as well. I started cheering when she tasered a villain and comforted a frightened little boy with motherly compassion–in a single scene!

Rachel, like Alfred, has a profound influence over Bruce, but in a different way. Alfred is the kindly father/grandfather figure who gently encourages Bruce. Rachel, by contrast, is the steely-eyed childhood friend (and possible love interest) who isn’t afraid to stick her finger in his face and tell him what’s what. But even if she has to be stern with him, Rachel loves Bruce and knows he’s destined for great things.

My sole quibble with Rachel is that her relationship with Bruce didn’t have a satisfying conclusion. Why are you kissing the poor guy when you’re about to tell him you can’t carry on a romance with him until he gives up the cape?! Grumble-grumble. She needs to sit down with Lois Lane and get a few pointers on the subject of romance and incognito superheroes. It can be done, Rachel.

(Note: I’m watching The Dark Knight right now–review upcoming–and I don’t like Rachel’s character in that one at all. She’s like a completely different person. Switching actresses on me didn’t help, but her personality isn’t even the same. So if you ever hear me saying wonderful things about Rachel Dawes on this blog in the future, be aware that I’m talking about Rachel in Batman Begins.)

Dr. Crane/Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) + Ducard (Liam Neeson)

Dr. Crane/Scarecrow was kinda . . . underwhelming? The psychiatrist alter-ego gave me the creeps just because he was so sleazy. You knew he was working for the Mob and it was maddening to think that criminals were getting off scott-free because Dr. Crane was declaring them insane.

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Scarecrow was not terribly scary for me. He was intimidating, to be sure, simply because he could make people really insane! But I’ve seen worse in The Lord of the Rings, and besides, I’m much more afraid of the Joker right now.

Now Ducard.

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This character was the biggest surprise of the film–such a surprise, in fact, that I, who am usually dubbed The Spoiler Queen, refuse to give away anything! I’m sure there are other people out there who haven’t seen it yet, so I’m not going to ruin it for them. Suffice it to say that when The Surprise hit us, we all nearly jumped off the couch shouting, “WAIT, WHAT?!”

It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

Conclusion

Batman Begins was a fabulous introduction to the character for me. It was a very well-done, engaging, and meaningful film that I thoroughly enjoyed and one that definitely deserves a re-watch.

Age recommendation: my 13-year-old sister watched this but did cover her eyes for some of the Scarecrow scenes. Definitely not recommended for younger viewers. Thanks to more realistic, gritty situations (murders, drug lords, government corruption) Batman Begins is darker than Captain America or even Man of Steel.

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And yes, I now love Batman. Um, excuse me while I set up my handy-dandy tomato shield, just allow me to keep talking. I love Batman very much, he’s shot up very high on my Favoritism Scale. I’m very glad to have him.

(*raises shield*)

I must confess that Superman is still my favorite superhero.

(*covers head, waits for the pelting tomatoes to stop*)

But Batman is a CLOSE CLOSE CLOSE second! I all but got down on my knees the other morning with folded hands and asked Emily if that was permissible. She benevolently assured me it was, and so did TJ. So there. It’s allowed.

(*lowers shield, flicks tomato gunk off, and skips happily into the distance*) 😉

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12 thoughts on “Batman Begins: Movie Review

  1. I just love superhero films, it makes do difference to me if they’re Marvel or DC! 🙂 And this movie was SOOOOOOO GOOD!!!! I was pleasantly surprised. Christian Bale is so perfect as Bruce/Batman. I was so disappointed that he wont be in the Superman/Batman film. 😦
    Great review! I can’t wait to read your review on The Dark Knight, as I haven’t seen that one yet. 🙂

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    1. Both the DC films I’ve seen have pleasantly surprised me; I really appreciate their depth and how well-done they are! I just love Christian Bale as Batman–although sometimes, especially in Batman Begins, I can still see glimpses of Laurie!

      I remember when they announced last summer that Ben Affleck was going to play Batman. I couldn’t have cared less; then I saw Man of Steel and thought, “Aw drat, no Christian Bale”; now I’ve actually seen Christian Bale in the role and I’m so disappointed he won’t be in the MoS sequel! Ah well, Ben Affleck may really be able to pull it off. He’s just *got* to pull it off. He has Christian Bale to live up to and Henry Cavill to go up against, so he really has no choice in the matter, haha 😉

      The Dark Knight is good but not nearly as enjoyable as Batman Begins, mainly because it’s so much darker. There isn’t the same optimistic go-get-’em feel about it that you have in Man of Steel or Batman Begins. I’m hoping The Dark Knight Rises will be a little brighter.

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  2. I enjoyed Batman Begins too (sorry, don’t know HTML for italics)–watched it until 1: 00 a.m. when it came on TV a few years ago! Bruce’s ninja training was amazing (and, I thought, far more realistic and logical than the long supply of Bat-deus ex machinas from the 50s TV show. 🙂 ).

    Your reviews are very organized and thorough without scattering spoilers everywhere! I like the way you organize by likes/don’t likes/and characters.

    God bless!

    Literaturelady

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    1. Haha, that’s okay–I’m not that good at HTML either 😉 We stayed up late to watch this one too! There just wasn’t any stopping once we started it. And yes, it’s all so real-life–as real life as a superhero movie can get, anyway!

      I’m glad you like the reviews! I try not to make them too full of spoilers since I know most people don’t like them. The characters are fun to write about–that’s my favorite part of reviewing a movie 🙂

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  3. I’m not quite sure why you keep stating that you’ll be getting hate; Batman is a well loved, popular character and I’m so glad you liked this movie because it is one of my favorites. While I’m a Marvel Die-Hard, I personally bought Batman Begins and The Dark Knight because I liked them both so much! So, of course I am thrilled that you have so far enjoyed Bruce’s story (I will be interested to hear what you think of The Dark Knight Rises since I didn’t really care for that film.)

    I really really loved Batman Begins; Bruce is a great character and I thought the film communicated his fears and characteristics excellently (waaay better than with Clark in Man of Steel but I know we already disagree about that, so ignore me.) Christian Bale is the perfect Batman/Bruce Wayne. I LOVE ALFRED HE IS THE BEST. AH. And I also like this Rachel; I like how they’re mostly just friends throughout this film (sadly she and the romance element got butchered in The Dark Knight *sob* so the relationship doesn’t really get any better than it was in this movie!) And the big twist at the end totally floored me as well!

    I’m so glad you’ve cottened to Batman! While I still think you cheated yourself by skipping most of the Avengers origin films, I’m still keeping hope that you will go back to watch Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Thor and then give The Avengers another try (also Iron Man 3 and Thor The Dark World were FANTASTIC). After all, it IS possible to be both a DC and Marvel fan. 😛 While I prefer Marvel to DC, I still am a Batman fan and a Joker fanatic!

    Looking forward to your review of The Dark Knight when you finish it! 😀

    ~Jamie

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    1. Okay, whew, I just wasn’t sure that it would always go over well, especially since this is the second time I’ve been completely blown away by Marvel’s competition, LOL. It’s one of those first world problems, you know, getting caught between competing movie studios 😉

      ADSFJKLSDFJKL ALFRED. Isn’t he just absolutely wonderful? His humor is my favorite kind: dry and gently sarcastic. And you know who I forgot to mention here was Lucius Fox! He’s a great character, too…I’ll have to give him all the attention he deserves in my next review. I just can’t imagine why they botched Rachel in TDK. All the other characters are so wonderfully portrayed and developed, but they reduced her complex character in BB to simple “love interest” in TDK. And I was so mad that she kissed Bruce and then Harvey five minutes later! Poor, poor Bruce.

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  4. Hello! I enjoyed the post!
    I definitely consider myself to be a mainly Marvel fan, but this Batman is the exception — they are incredible movies, so deep and dark. Marvel is the best at fun Superhero escapism, but these Batman films really get under your skin and make you think, and I love that. Scarecrow is a bit underwhelming (especially next to the Joker!) but I like him for the Crane side because of Cillian Murphy, and how cool and understated he is.
    Looking forward to reading your take on the rest of the trilogy. 🙂

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I like the movies that make you stop and think, as well–especially when they also have admirable characters and complex plots 🙂

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  5. Another Batman convert! I remember only going into the theaters to see this movie because Christian Bale was in it. He was my first celebrity crush (be still my little 9 year old beating heart)…only I didn’t fall in love with him when he played Laurie in Little Women…it was actually when he was playing Jesus in the television movie, Mary, The Mother of Jesus (another good movie that you and your family should see). Awkward right? The the next day I felt soooo guilty about it because I though it was sinful to fall in love with someone who played Jesus…so there’s my embarrassing story for the day.

    I really did like this movie, but I didn’t care for The Dark Knight, I felt that it was too much about Heath Ledger’s performance, which was great, but it was just too bizarre for me. The Dark Knight Rises is definitely my favorite, but it is much much more violent (so be warned, keep the little kids out of the room, because even I was little shocked by the violence)! Anne Hathaway as Catwomen was absolutely brilliant and the storyline by the end takes the most unbelievable twist…I think you’ll like it. The story really takes Bruce back to where he started in Batman Begins and molds him back into the man who became the Batman (if that makes any sense).

    I’m glad you liked my post, too : ) Like I said I have literally been waiting a whole year to write that! I am getting tired of Valentine’s Day (which is a religious holiday by Catholic observation and people need to respect that) being seen as ‘Single Awareness Day,’ and more often than not, I see it in young single Christian women who should have so much more to live for than just gazing out their windows, waiting for some great guy to walk up the pathway.

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    1. That’s kind of a funny story, actually! It made me smile 😉

      I just finished The Dark Knight last night, and I agree with you, it was rather bizarre. There was SO much going on, it was hard keeping track of all the deceptions and subplots and plot twists. If the Joker had been the only villain, I think it would’ve been much easier to keep up with the story, but they had to bring in Harvey Dent/Two-Face and he was so awful. I’ll do a review soon, but thanks to your description and my own brother’s assurance that there’s a triumphant ending, I’m really looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises. Can’t wait to start watching that one on Friday.

      Your post was excellent. You’re right, young Christian women have so much more to do than brood over this stage of life. To quote a Frozen line, they need to “go enjoy the sun and open up the gates!” 😉

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