Andrew Magrath (biggrumpy) wrote,
Andrew Magrath
biggrumpy

Bruce Wayne Begins

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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