“Batman Begins” Is Best Batman Movie Yet

July 1, 2005

IN 1939, BobKane created andpublished for thefirst time a storyabout a man whofights evil usingonly his ownintelligence, a fewfuturistic gadgetsand, of course,extraordinaryphysical skills –and Batmanbegan.The story waspublished in Detective Comics magazine,now popularly known as DC Comics.Today, 66 years later, Batman is one ofthe best-loved and most representativecharacters in the worldwide comics culture.The “Dark Knight” has had a long historyin film and television, morphingthrough the years with the changing times,from Adam West’s portrayal in the hugelypopular “Batman” TV series of the 1960sand its spin-off feature film “Batman: TheMovie” to the 85 episodes of WarnerBrothers’ “Batman: The Animated Series”in the 1990s.In 1989, director Tim Burton created anew project for the big screen: “Batman,”starring Michael Keaton as the caped crusader.Both this movie and its 1992 sequel,“Batman Returns,” also starring Keaton,were very successful in the box office.Joel Schumacher took over the director’schair in 1995 with “BatmanForever,” starring Val Kilmer, followed by“Batman and Robin” in 1997, withGeorge Clooney donning the mask. Thislast movie disappointed many Batmanfans and almost killed the superhero’s big screenfranchise.However, it looks like the Bat mighthave borrowed a few lives fromCatwoman – because he’s still alive.CHRISTOPHER Nolan’s “BatmanBegins” – which is based on FrankMiller’s comic book “Batman: Year One”rather than original creator Bob Kane’swork – explores the origin of the Batmancharacter and its emergence as a force forgood in the fictional city of Gotham.Tormented by childhood memories of hisparents’ murder, a disillusioned BruceWayne, portrayed by Christian Bale, travelsthe world searching for the means tofight injustice. After a stint in an unidentifiedAsian prison, followed by some rigorousninja training, Wayne returns toGotham, where he develops and unveilshis alter ego.Leading a star-studded cast, Bale doesa good job of drawing audiences into thetormented mind of Bruce Wayne. Theimpressive supporting cast includesMichael Caine as butler Alfred Pennyworth,Gary Oldman as a young detectiveGordon, and Morgan Freeman as inventorLucius Fox.On the darker side, the movie hassome great villains, including two ofBatman’s most enigmatic enemies: Ra’sAl Ghul and the Scarecrow. Liam Neeson,who plays Wayne’s mentor Henri Ducard,is arguably the best actor in the movie.His chemistry with Bale and a solid plotmake this film probably the best of theBatman movies.Devoted fans may have one or twocriticisms; for example, this movie, likeall the others, never showcases Batman’sdetective skills, focusing instead on hisfighting prowess and an awful prototypeBatmobile, which, even if it is a greatpiece of engineering, looks like a bigbrick with wheels. However, those whoaren’t over-dedicated comics fans willundoubtedly enjoy this great film.I give “Batman Begins” an 8 out of 10.

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