Content Warning: Violence and Thematic Material
As a huge Batman fan, I was super excited when I first watched this film. Christoper Nolan (Inception, The Prestige) helms this Batman reboot and looks to bring a darker side to the caped crusader and his tragic life. As with previous Batman films, Batman Begins also tries to push the limits on how menacing his movies can truly be.
The movie starts out with a young Bruce Wayne growing up in Wayne Manor. It effectively shows the strong bond the Wayne family had before his parent’s tragic death, and also reveals the start of Bruce and Rachel’s relationship. One of the first scenes in the movie shows Bruce stealing an arrowhead from Rachel, and her chasing him trying to get it back. As he is running away, he falls into an old well and breaks his leg. His father eventually finds him and comes down the well to get him. When he reaches Bruce, he asks him the question, “Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again.” It becomes the most important quote of the movie and also meant a lot to me from a Christian perspective. In our walk with Christ sometimes we are going to fall, but we can’t give up when we fall. We have to pick ourselves up, refocus on Christ, and grow stronger from our fall.
You also find out early in the film that Bruce is scared of bats, and that he becomes Batman in order to embrace his fear and take control of it, instead of letting his fear take control of him. In fact, during one conversation between Bruce and Alfred, Alfred asks him, “Why bats, Master Wayne?” He replies, “Bats scare me. It’s time my enemies shared my fear.” I thought it was a great addition to the origin story of Batman.
Christian Bale (The Prestige, The Fighter) plays the new adult Bruce Wayne and turns in a fantastic performance. I personally think they couldn’t have gotten anyone better for the role. He brings Batman’s pain to life. Katie Holmes plays the adult Rachel. She performs decently, but I thought she could do more with the role. I kept waiting for her to “wow” me in some way and it never happened. Michael Caine plays Bruce’s butler Alfred and gives perhaps the best performance in the movie by basically being both Bruce’s mentor and conscience. Gary Oldman plays Jim Gordon, and, though he gives a good performance, I felt he was not the right person for the part. Gordon was always more of a hard-nosed, gritty detective, and Oldman just doesn’t bring that to his role. Liam Neeson (Taken, Non-Stop) plays Rhas Al Ghoul and brings his Qui-Gon Jinn personality to the forefront as the man who trains the young Bruce Wayne. It’s a perfect role for Neeson. Finally, Cillian Murphy (Red Lights, Inception) plays Scarecrow, a psychologist who has extreme measures of treating his patients. Being a fairly new guy to the acting community, Cillian turns in a creepy and fantastic performance in the role.
Christopher Nolan brings his masterful directing skills to this movie and does so almost flawlessly. By showing the sad and tragic childhood that made Batman into a superhero, Nolan brings a dark, ominous tone to the film.. He is quickly becoming one of the greatest directors alive.
And, finally, the score for this film is one of its best attributes. It brings Gotham City and the pain of the characters in the movie to life and will stay with you for weeks afterwards.