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Bruce Wayne Begins - A Recovering Physicist's Apology

About Bruce Wayne Begins

Previous Entry Bruce Wayne Begins Jun. 19th, 2005 @ 12:19 am Next Entry
Saturday night I went and saw Batman Begins. It was on my “to see” list, so I was really looking forward to it. David gave it a good review, though this isn’t too surprising given the source. I had my hopes high for BB. But I was also afraid, in some remote corner of my mind I was afraid that DC, given the fact that they are DC, might screw it all up. My fears were brought full circle when in the preview clip I saw Liam Neeson. Nobody can ruin a movie for me like Liam Neeson. I will hear no debate on this, I hate him. So it was with some trepidation that I walked into BB knowing I would have to deal with Liam Neeson, and the “legacy” of “Batman & Robin.”

I walked out of the theater very happy though. Batman Begins was a very sound movie. I have some major complaints though, and will get to them in a moment. But before I get to some spoilers I wanted to say that BB is at least as good as the first Spiderman. I don’t think it was as good as Spiderman II, but BB is still a very amazing movie and highly recommended.

Spoilers begin here:
What I liked: everything that I am not about to mention as something I didn’t like! I did like the focus on Bruce Wayne instead of Batman. It was really slick considering everyone in the film talked about how Batman was taking over. From our audience perspective this was not the case, it worked very well that way. I also thought Morgan Freeman was GREAT as Lucius Fox. In fact the whole cast (minus Liam Neeson and Katie “I’m the generic love interest” Holmes) were fantastic in the film. But for my money ($18 just to get a ticket) Freeman gave the best performance, followed by Michael Cain as Alfred.

Now here comes the stuff I didn’t like. The biggest thing I hated was that DC is YET to learn from Marvel’s example of villains. DC insists on Batman facing more than one villain at once. It worked well in Batman II because Catwoman often is a wild card in the comics and is not necessarily a villain or a hero. But then DC got silly. We ended up with the Riddler and Two Face in “Forever” and Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, AND Bane in “B & R”. Each of these villains is worthy of a one on one encounter with the Batman in their own movie. What made “Batman” great was it was Batman vs The Joker. No one else, it was a good introduction to both characters. But by introducing all kinds of characters DC waters down its product. You never get a real sense of the villain that way. You don’t see the nuance that sets them apart. When Batman faces Bane and Bane has only one line in the movie, you never see what makes Bane great in the comics. He is just another generic strong villain. DC consistently did this on the Batman movies, and sadly the trend continued (though, in fairness, to a lesser degree). Thus when Batman goes up against Ra Al Gul AND The Scarecrow, it hurts the movie big time.

Now I am, pure and simple, a villain man. Even though Batman is a character that is driven to do “good” for radically different reasons than other superheroes, we still “get” why he goes about doing good. I have always found a good story revolves then around why the villain does what he does. There are obvious reasons why people are “good,” but why are they “bad?” To that end I was disappointed with BB. We do not get to see the depth of villains that I would have liked. Now that is partly because DC chose to have Batman face way too many villains at once (3 if you encluded the mob boss), and partly because the story just didn’t focus on them. I can understand that Batman character needed flushed out and that was the MAIN focus of this movie (to wonderful effect), but it just a shame to throw away such a worthy villian as the Scarecrow in a watered down form. I would have preferred that Rupert Thorn was in this movie, and not even had a super villain.

I also didn’t like the change of focus of Scarecrow. It is flatly stated that he was doing it for money. This annoys me, because there are certain archetypes of villains. There is the strong villain, the smart villain, and the science gone wrong villain, etc. Scarecrow is Batman’s science gone wrong villain. He is willing to conduct experiments relating to fear on grand horrible scales. He doesn’t care who gets hurt, because, fundamentally, it is about the data not about people. I find that premise terrifying and interesting. Science gone wrong is a topic I find fascinating, so to see such a wonderful premise altered to, “Scarecrow thinks we are going to hold the city ransom” is a real let down.

I was also a bit let down by the end, and confused. When we see who the next villain will be, I am left to wonder is BB suppose to lead directly into “Batman”? Because if so, it doesn’t mesh well. Or are they rewriting the whole history and pretending the first 4 movies did not exist? (The Burton films are worth keeping, the rest should rightly be deemed to have “never happened”). I am a bit disappointed if the Joker really is in the next new Batman movie, because Batman has so many great villains. I was really hoping for the Mad Hatter to be next. I saw the card and was so hoping once flipped over it would read, “10/6.” If the Joker is in the next film, they should cast Mark Hamill to be the Joker. He provided the voice of the Joker in all the the Batman Cartoons and he did it so amazingly well that I cannot consider the Joker having any other voice. So Hamill better be the next Joker or he needs to dub the lines in. Like my hatred of Liam Neeson, I will not entertain any debate on this topic. I am right and if you do not agree you are wrong. It is that simple. On this, there is no grey.

It comes down to this, BB is a great movie. The problems present will hopefully be addressed in the next film (I can’t see even DC being dumb enough to have the Joker share screen time with another villain), but on a technical level the movie is very sound (few CG, great acting, etc). I think the movie is amazing, and hope to see it again with my friends. It is very good, I just wish it focused more on “the villain” (note that is in the singular form DC Comics).
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From:sneakypeteiii
Date:June 18th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC)
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I agree with you on Mark Hamill as the Mad Hatter -- he did so well as a live-action villian, the cock-knocker, in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. Ah, that movie had some good moments.
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From:biggrumpy
Date:June 21st, 2005 09:25 am (UTC)
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I need to see that movie, I wonder if it is in Japan...
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From:obie_in_exile
Date:June 19th, 2005 02:57 am (UTC)
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I think Katie Holmes was a huge distraction to the movie. I kept thinking "How did she get into gotham?" Katie holmes you're not a DA! Get back in the kitchen and bake me a romantic comedy!
I never followed batman growing up and I got rather confused with all the villains relationships and the subtle hits at other plots.
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From:biggrumpy
Date:June 20th, 2005 10:39 pm (UTC)
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Yeah Katie Holmes was way out of place in dark dank Gothem. I was hoping some guy randomly climbed through her window and took her out, but alas...
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From:dlc2k
Date:June 19th, 2005 01:36 pm (UTC)
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I'm glad you enjoyed it! I think more than anything, it's really what we Batman fans have needed for years: a resurgence to move towards the "true" Batman, meaning thet character we all know from the comics. Now let's see if I can clear a few things up:

The biggest thing I hated was that DC is YET to learn from Marvel’s example of villains. DC insists on Batman facing more than one villain at once.

I'm going to have to disagree with you here. Even though I was kinda bummed they watered down Scarecrow (he's also one of my favorites) and they changed about 80% of who Ra's al'Ghul is, (also one of my favorites) think back to the past 4 modern era Batman movies. From each film, what performance was most remembered? Jack Nicholson as Joker. Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. Jim Carrey as Riddler (kids liked; smart people knew that he and Tommy Lee Jones totally fucked up their roles); and umm... I didn't take anything away from B&R, and deservedly so!! My point is, it was the villains always stealing the show. This movie was called "Batman Begins" and was about its main character: The Batman. Without a clear, detailed explanation of who Batman/Bruce Wayne is, the villains mean nothing in the Batman universe.

I can condone Scarecrow being used as a pawn in this movie for 2 reasons:
1) the emphasis was supposed to be on Batman
2) He's definitely still alive at the end, which is something I was happy about. Christopher Nolan doesn't feel Batman needs to kill off villains (while I like Burton's movies, this is his unforgivable sin to me) near the end of his confrontations. So for all we know, he'll be back in the 2nd or 3rd truer to the comic book Scarecrow.

But in summary, I DO agree w/ you: on the one hand it was a complete shame to water down Scarecrow and al'Ghul, but on the other, considering the job they did with fleshing out every nuance of Bruce/Batman, (I mean, they even pointed out that Bruce Wayne is the real mask!! Something the other movies never REALLY did) plus the fact they're both probably alive, (definitely Crane) it's forgivable.

Now that is partly because DC chose to have Batman face way too many villains at once (3 if you encluded the mob boss)....

If you have some extra cash, order Batman: Year One and Batman: The Long Halloween. These are the graphic novels BB was based on. Falcone is a real character and was instrumental to the plot.

I would have preferred that Rupert Thorn was in this movie, and not even had a super villain.

If you've noticed, Christopher Nolan worked very, very hard on making this a purist's Batman movie. Thus, Thorne (a Batman: The Animated Series exclusive character) has no reason to be drudged up. Not to get all fanboyish on you here, but the movie was about 95% accurate to the comics, which is what Bat-fans were clamoring for. Nolan and Bale both studied the comics like crazy to nail every nuance of Batman (the character and the world) that they could. In actuality, Thorne was Falcone in B:TAS for all intents and purposes. For whatever reason, they just gave him a new name.

When we see who the next villain will be, I am left to wonder is BB suppose to lead directly into “Batman”?

Nope, those movies are now erased, just like Marty's "YOU'RE FIRED!!!!" note from Back to the Future II!!!! Okay, sorry, just recently watched those. =) This is the beginning of a new trilogy, and even though I did like the Burton movies, BB, Nolan, and Bale have all demonstrated a desire to explore the "real" Batman universe, and with the accuracy depicted in the film, I'm all too ready to bury every other Batman movie ever... long considered the weakest link in Batman lore anyway.

f the Joker is in the next film, they should cast Mark Hamill to be the Joker. He provided the voice of the Joker in all the the Batman Cartoons and he did it so amazingly well that I cannot consider the Joker having any other voice.

Damn straight! Just out of curiosity, a little debate I've been having with people after seeing BB: Besides Hamill, who in this generation of actors would you have play Joker? I just can't think of anyone who could pull it off, which is why they'd need a relatively unknown actor. (Just as they're doing for Superman: Brandon Routh.)
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From:dlc2k
Date:June 19th, 2005 01:36 pm (UTC)

Continuation

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I am a bit disappointed if the Joker really is in the next new Batman movie, because Batman has so many great villains.

I kind of agree, and I kinda don't. Since the movie is supposed to be a trilogy, I'd kinda like to save Joker until the last installment, so hopefully part 2 will just allude to him more and more. (Maybe make him uncatchable or something.) But also, yes, even though Batman has perhaps the most interesting and diverse Rogue's Gallery ever, you can't deny that the Batman/Joker element is always, ALWAYS classic. Joker is the anti-thesis of Batman; without Batman, Joker wouldn't exist, and to a point, vice versa.

Who else would you be interested in seeing? I want Clayface, personally. =) Mad Hatter... eh, maybe. To be honest, unless they made him darker, he's always been sort of a pussy villain. I'd like to see them give another swing at Two-Face, which is entirely possible, since the head D.A. was killed in this movie, as well as Katie Holmes (mercifully) deciding not to reprise her role.

My 2 favorite scenes:
1) Batman standing atop one of the highest points of Gotham City, as the camera pans around him.
2) Batman: WHERE ARE WERE THE OTHER DRUGS GOING??
Flass: I dunno man, I never knew, I swear to God-
Batman: SWEAR TO ME!!!


Oh, and what did you think of Christian Bale? I think Michael Keaton has finally been beaten. Bale IS Batman/Bruce Wayne; I thought he nailed both parts. Right at first, I thought his "Batman voice" was kinda corny, but then I grew accustomed to it, and actually liked how he used it.

I just love how they made Batman fight in this movie, as well. He's never been a "here I am! Let's rumble!" kinda guy. (Something all 4 of the other modern movies were guilty of portraying.) He picks people off, then deals with the others after they're terrified and completely out of their minds.
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From:dlc2k
Date:June 19th, 2005 02:21 pm (UTC)

2 other things

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1) Did you notice the name of the villain initially being prosecuted by Katie Holmes's boss? Mr. Zsasz. WAH HAHAHA!! In fact, when the maximum security section of Arkham is released, you see his profile, and on the right side of his necks, you can see some of his self-inflicted cuts, each one representing a life he has taken. He was kind of an "Easter egg" for Bat-fans, but...

2) ... since all the criminals haven't been caught, maybe he (and some others) will be used as minor villains in the upcoming movies. I agree w/ you that each movie should really focus on 1 major villain, but I wouldn't mind a few minor ones that are quick take-downs. You know, just some names that will cause Bat-fans to go, "oooh, cool!"
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From:biggrumpy
Date:June 21st, 2005 09:17 am (UTC)

Re: 2 other things

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“Jack Nicholson as Joker. Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. Jim Carrey as Riddler (kids liked; smart people knew that he and Tommy Lee Jones totally fucked up their roles)”

I am throwing the Riddler out due to lack of evidence. Nicholson is remembered as the Joker because his character was allowed to have screen time and didn’t have to share time with 2 other villains. Catwoman is similarly remembered because Pfeiffer faithfully portrayed the aloof Catwoman. In fairness Catwoman does not need a lot of screen time to be used effectively (as the comics also show). So even though she shared time with Penguin, she was not strictly villain or hero. Which allowed her to be unique. But your argument just proves my point, Joker was remembered because it was ONLY the Joker allowing Nicholson to be great. Pfeiffer was great because really it was only her as well. There were no other morally ambiguous characters in “Returns” and she got a lot of screen time to flush out both Kyle and alter ego Catwoman. Which just proves my point. DC did not learn this lesson, because in the first two movies DC knew that few villains and well flushed out villains and villains true to their comic book roots (more or less) work well. They forgot this when they made “Forever” and abandoned everything when they made “B&R.” They were closer with “Begins” but it is still not up to Spiderman or the “Batman” standards.

I agree with you that “Begins” is first and foremost about Batman/Wayne, which is why choosing to throw 3 villians at him at once was a bad move. With most of the show concentrating on Wayne, the rogue needed to be as focused as possible. You say that without an understanding of Wayne the rogue means nothing, but it works both ways. As you have said Batman needs the Joker and the Joker needs Batman. I felt like “Begins” gave me Batman but he wasn’t complete without a strong CENTRAL villain.

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From:biggrumpy
Date:June 21st, 2005 09:18 am (UTC)

Re: 2 other things

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That is why I thought Falcone (who I thought was actually the character I knew as “Thorn” by another more “mobster” name) would have made a better main rogue. Because at the end of the movie when Gordon is talking about escalation, which was a really great dialogue, he says “You wear a mask, what if others start wearing masks?” I wanted to scream, “What do you think that thing on Scarecrow’s head was Lieutenant?” I feel like it was too soon to bust out a masked villain. A “super” villain if you would. Batman was not yet a “super” hero, so I think it may have been premature to bust out a super villain. Partly because Crain never felt like a “super” villain. He was twisted and a not nice but he wasn’t in his purest super villain form. Yet, it also appears that Crain was full out crazy by the end of the film, even saying that he was Fear and he was only the Scarecrow (that’s the rhetoric we need from a super villain!), meaning that this movie could also be interpreted as the “super”-fying of both Batman and Scarecrow. But I doubt Scarecrow will ever be seen again (though it is VITAL that he is not dead, Batman is NOT an “assassin”). Even though it is interesting to think about this movie making Batman a super hero and Crain a super villain, I still don’t feel it outweighs the loss of having a strong super villain/super hero confrontation (I mean Scarecrow got beaten by Katie Holmes for crying out loud, what could she do cute dimple him into submission?) It is because of this that I think it would have been better to have a Falcone/Al Gul thing going. Rather than watering down the Scarecrow.

Who else would you be interested in seeing? I want Clayface, personally. =) Mad Hatter... eh, maybe. To be honest, unless they made him darker, he's always been sort of a pussy villain. I'd like to see them give another swing at Two-Face, which is entirely possible, since the head D.A. was killed in this movie, as well as Katie Holmes (mercifully) deciding not to reprise her role.

Thank goodness for Katie Holmes dropping her part. She sucked. Maybe she will be killed off by a full fledged crazy super villain Scarecrow, scared to death or something. That would go a long way towards redeeming Scarecrow’s rogue-ness.

I would have loved to see Clayface as well, especially with Nolan’s policy on FX. CGI has its place in movies, but what makes so much of Begins so awesome is it is MOSTLY stunt work. So it looks realer because it is REALER. CGI looks too crisp and fluid sometimes, it needs to be used sparingly. I recently watched Terminator II and the mix of actual props and CGI to smooth the transitions made the movie (to me) look so much better than T3. The same with “Begins” even though “B&R” probably used MORE CG it doesn’t look nearly as good as “Begins.” So in short, yeah Clayface would be the bomb. But I am going to throw the Hatter at you again.


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From:biggrumpy
Date:June 21st, 2005 09:18 am (UTC)

Re: 2 other things

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To counter your fanboydom I am going to call on some of my own. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer she fights a comedic trio of uber nerds. The Trio eventually make a mind control device to “make hot women their love slaves” it is played as a joke through more or less the whole season that this machine is one of their goals. There are some genuinely funny scenes surrounding it. But then they actually make one and use it on one of the Trio’s ex girl friends. He mind controllers her into wanting to have sex with him. She breaks the mind control device’s hold and says she never wanted to do that and thus he was going to rape her. Suddenly the funny “mind control” machine isn’t funny at all. It is deadly serious and very dark. If they were to put the Hatter on screen that is how I think they should do it. He is kind of funny with his rhymes and style, but at his heart he is a villain that wants to take NOT your life but your will. It doesn’t get much darker than that, if portrayed properly. For the Joker it is about his sick sense of humor, but for Hatter it is all about absolute control. He doesn’t want you dead, he just wants your body to serve him as he sees fit. In many ways I think the Hatter is the darkest of the rogue gallery. There is a scene in Babylon 5 (more fanboy power here) where a telepath has a gun pointed at her and she forces her assailant to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head. The actor plays it so well, the pained look in on his face as he struggles to stop his gun in HIS OWN HAND from ending his own life. It was pretty horrific, and excellently played. That is how I see the Hatter using his power. Not in the cute kind of way portrayed in some of the comics and cartoons, but the real horror of causing someone to fight their own will and loosing. Also, in the comics and cartoon they never play up the results of Hatter’s control. It is always, “Ha ha, I was under his control and nearly killed everyone, or stole the thingamajig, or did something that my moral system would have never allowed… ohh well!” If a movie showed the guilt that mind control would leave then Hatter would be an amazing villain. I think Nolan could do it based on the quality of how he handled Wayne’s guilt over his parents deaths.

As for the Bale vs. Keaton argument, Keaton who? Keaton was a great Bruce Wayne, but a lame Batman. Val Kilmer was a great Batman but a horrible Bruce Wayne. The Bale Bat Voice (BBV) pulled me out of my suspension of disbelief every now and again, but it wasn’t horrible. What makes Bale great is Bale is both Batman and Bruce Wayne. And more importantly, he is both at the same time. You can see just a hint of Wayne in Batman and just a hint of Batman in Wayne. They are different personalities, but they are not COMPLETELY different personalities: they interact ever so slightly. Which was great.

Yeah I loved that Zzasz was in the film and you saw his scares. I also love that in the scene with Gordon at home his wife and daughter are in the background and she is mentions something about Barbra (I don’t know if you can fully hear what she says to the baby, there is a lot of background noise. I read her name out of the Japanese subtitles バブラ)
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From:biggrumpy
Date:June 21st, 2005 09:19 am (UTC)

Re: 2 other things

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I really loved everything about the movie. The only things I didn’t like were the villain situation and I didn’t like the microwave emitter. Everything in the movie seemed “real” except that. It broke my suspension of disbelief. Batman’s world is obviously a comic book world, but the microwave emitter seemed too “comic book.” It seemed too camp. If you are playing a little towards the camp side (Spiderman for example) it can work. But “Begins” used corny as humor (very well - the whole weaponized hallucinogen exchange between Wayne and Fox for example) but this movie was NOT camp. It didn’t even come close to being camp. So I, like Dirtae, feel the microwave emitter hurt the movie. There could have been a better way to spread the fear about. I loved the mist scenes but would have gladly given them up for the removal of the microwave emitter. But the complaints are easier to talk about than the plusses. Because the plusses arguments tend to go like this, “Man wasn’t it great that Batman took the thugs out one by one?” “It sure was!” The end. So I focused on the bad more than the good. But make no mistake I really loved this movie. It owned. Batman is back!


An Aside: ONE thing I DO NOT love is this word limit thing on responces, that is crampin my verbose prose style...
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From:dlc2k
Date:June 22nd, 2005 04:55 pm (UTC)

Re: 2 other things

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An Aside: ONE thing I DO NOT love is this word limit thing on responces, that is crampin my verbose prose style...

I can dig that. LJ must assume that we're little teenie boppers who only wanna say stuff like "LoL dudez that post roxorz my boxorz!!!1!!11! ROFLMAO" or something. Man, I wanna hold a bloody conversation!

But anyways... yeah, I dig what you're saying. I probably didn't "articulate" it very well, but I agreed with most of your points, especially regarding Hatter. If they wrote him correctly, it could be pulled off. It's just like the HUSH storyline: Riddler is now a badass. He stole Jason Todd's corpse* and knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman. From Zero to badass in only 2 issues! (The whole arc was 12, but Riddler was only in parts' 8 and 12.) Hatter could also be redeemed, and being in a movie might be the way to do it.
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From:dlc2k
Date:June 22nd, 2005 04:56 pm (UTC)

Re: 2 other things

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(posted prematurely!)

* As I've been telling you, it's looking like JT could be alive, so ya know... unless Riddler has something to do with THAT, this point for him could go bye-bye as of June29th, when Bruce/Batman and Jason/Redhood purportedly come face to face.
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From:pollopeligroso
Date:June 21st, 2005 01:48 am (UTC)

Batman and stuff

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Actually, despite the card, there is no reason to think that Joker will be the main villian of the next movie. All the bat-villians are still alive, and I'm sure some other great villian will show up.

The reason I say this is becuase it ended exactly the same way Batman-Year One did. Batman saves the day, and they talk about a new cook in town, some guy calling himself The Joker. The next comic had nothing whatsoever to do with The Joker. We're just to assume that The Batman took him out and sent him to Arkham and that's it. He'll break out in some other movie if he's needed.

As for refrences. Falcone was the gangster from Year One and a couple other story-lines. Some of whcich are my favorites. If they Falcone gets back up. I would 'love' them to do the Long Halloween storyline. No Man's Land would be another great one. And it would make a fine tradition of destroying Wayne Manor.

Anyway. I totally loved the movie. It was well worth the $5 bargan price I paid for it
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From:biggrumpy
Date:June 21st, 2005 09:25 am (UTC)

Re: Batman and stuff

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Yeah it was well worth the $18 I paid for it :P
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From:dlc2k
Date:June 22nd, 2005 04:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Batman and stuff

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O_O

A Long Halloween movie would own my soul. Many people say Year One is the greatest Batman story ever told. I think it's the 2nd best. Long Halloween is just such a great detective story, and that's what Batman is.

Of course, from all my friends who know I love Batman, the one thing I've heard most is, "When are they gonna break his back?? I wanna see Bane!!" Whoa... that's a trilogy in and of itself right there!
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From:biggrumpy
Date:June 22nd, 2005 10:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Batman and stuff

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Yeah then we could see the REAL Batman Az-Bat :P
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From:dlc2k
Date:June 24th, 2005 01:47 am (UTC)

Re: Batman and stuff

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?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Ohhh noooo you didn't!!! ;)
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