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00603 – BATMAN BEGINS



Movie-Hype00603 – BATMAN BEGINS



THE BEFORE

A midnight screening at the IMAX theatre. Can it get any sweeter? Well, actually, yes. It costs two and a half bucks more. What’s up with that, I asked, but plans has already been made, so I ponied up.

We were to meet at West Side Luigis, Canada’s idea of what New York Italian is. I had this ten dollar off coupon, which the waitress said was expired and wouldn’t let me use. Then I saw “all you can eat soup and breadsticks” with a pasta order. I smiled at the server: “You’re gonna wish you’d given me that coupon.”

So it’s Ajax, Marcellus and me. About my 8th bowl of soup Quincy also shows up. We get to talking about all sorts of things, mostly them razzing me about my adventure with the 19-year old violin major last Saturday night. In honor of that, I asked about weirdest first dates ever. I can’t repeat the best story, but it involved a roller coaster and a giant loogie.

Soon it’s time to go to the theatre. I was all jacked up. I think staring at a five-story screen will do that. You forget how freakin’ immense IMAX is. I got up right before the show to explore and ran into this hot girl (and of course got her email), so I was on fire.

Before the movie starts they give us this laser show. It was okay, I guess, but pretty cheesy and make-fun-able. And, the announcer points out that IMAX is Canadian.

For those of you who haven’t journeyed up here in the Witness Protection Program, I have to explain. Canada is a great place, but with a little bit of a chip on its shoulder, when it comes to America. Consequently, they claim to have invented everything in the history of the universe. If a guy had maple syrup the morning he did something great, he’s Canadian. I find it kind of silly, and beneath them. I mean, Canada’s a fine land, you know? Someday they’re going to find that blue fairy and become a real country. But in the meantime, they just take credit for everything under the sun.



THE DURING

BATMAN BEGINS is the best BATMAN movie ever made. BATMAN BEGINS is the best Super Hero movie ever made. BATMAN BEGINS should get Oscar consideration.

It’s that good.

Finally we get an “origins” story worthy of a great hero. What makes Super Heroes so interesting (or should, at least) is why they do the things they do. Taking their time, director Christopher Nolan (MEMENTO) shows us exactly why Bruce Wayne is the way he is. How can he fight that way? Why use bats? Where’s all this anger coming from? All explained, and really cool too.

I liked how hard they tried to not get too sophisticated with the equipment he uses, recognizing that at first Batman was starting from scratch and didn’t have every cool thing under the sun. The Bat Cave? An actual cave. The Bat signal? It’s blurry. And the Batmobile? It deserves it’s own special on American Hot Rods, but I think Ajax said it best: “It’s like a dune buggy mated with an armadillo.”


I could easily spend 10,000 words talking about the cast. I’ll try not to, but I will say that Rutger Hauer and Gary Oldman both give refined performances. I did not know Gary Oldman was capable of this. Color me impressed.

Then there was the big four: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson and Tom Wilkerson. (Wilkerson is the best actor you’ve never heard of. Do yourself a huge favor and watch some of his films.) What can I say here? I’ll limit it to this: I may not like every single one of their movies, but I have never seen any of them give a performance where I thought anyone could have done a better job. These men are the best there is at what they do.

Which means that Christian Bale, as Batman, had his work cut out for him. Thank the Maker, he’s up to it. At first Bale looks like Matthew McConaughey and Tom Cruise had a child. But get past that and see how much he brings to the table.

One of my problems with all the other Batmans, even though I liked a couple of them, was that they focused too much on the bad guys. They are interesting and all, but Batman himself is so compelling! He should be the main character. This is a guy who’s fighting crime, but right there on that edge, always in danger of falling off the deep end.

HYPERION’S RATING SYSTEM

Suspension of Disbelief Index (out of 10): 9. We are talking about a Super Hero here. However, the emotions are very real, so take those seriously.

Genre Grade (Super Hero Movie): A+

Violence: A good bit, and not all cartoonish, either. This is not for kids

Sex/Nudity: Nada. I’ll probably regret saying this, but it really didn’t need it

Chemistry: Fantastic. Bruce Wayne with Alfred is already one of the best duos ever

Pantheon Percentile: 94. One helluva movie.

Bale brings that intensity to Bruce Wayne. I believed his anger, his guilt, and surprisingly, his fear. This guy is top notch. He’s been doing a lot of independent films or I think he’d already be A-list, but now he definitely will be. He can act circles around most his age. Watch out for him.

The dialogue is tight, sharp and acerbic. The humor is never forced, and comes as a great relief to a very serious film. The special effects are not over-used, but effective when we get them. The sets are fantastic, giving us a Gotham both as glamorous as anything Manhattan ever produced and as squalid as Hell’s Kitchen. Taking nothing away from earlier versions, this is Gotham as I imagined it.

We get several bad guys, each with their own thing: one creepy, one smooth and vile, and one strangely honorable, which makes him all the more evil. Bruce Wayne and Batman are equal to the task. Yes, there is a woman, played by Katie Holmes, and she does fine, but this isn’t a romantic film. They really could have kept her out, but you have to have some girl. Understanding that law (and it is a law), it’s really not much of a distraction. BATMAN BEGINS is virtually flawless.



THE AFTER

I was so excited walking out that I didn’t want to come home just yet. So, Ajax and I stood in the empty parking lot and relived much of the movie. Eventually we turned to wandering what other Super Hero movie could be as good, and somehow wound up casting a real-life G.I. JOE movie (which is such a good idea that I’m thinking of writing a script). But as the old saying goes, “When you start arguing about who’s going to play Cobra Commander, it’s time to go home.” Now I know (and knowing is half the battle).

One thing Ajax said struck me. “This movie is so perfect,” he said, “that I hope they don’t make another one.” While I would love to see what the director would do next, and I already miss Michael Caine as Alfred, and Christian Bale as Batman and all the rest, I may have to agree.

This is the movie you want to have in your mind when you think of the Dark Knight. This is the movie to go out on top. This is BATMAN BEGINS, and they will never do it better.

Hyperion
June 15, 2005

Credits
Thanks to Ajax, Marcellus, and Quincy

4 comments:

Dominique said...

I am so glad to hear this. I love reading your reviews on movies I'm sitting on the fence or iffy about. I originally was going to see it in the theater due to the special effects. (Yes, I'm one of those - theater or video worthy choosers - but come on, I've not found my Sugar Daddy yet.) After all, if you're going to see a flick with special effects, the theater is the place to be. But now...I am actually looking forward to seeing it and the nuances of it and why you liked it so. If you liked it that much, it has got to be beyond awesome. Thanks for doing the reviews; I appreciate it.

Off topic – what is up w/ you & the violinist – and getting the other dames email – what the play-ah you are! Oh well…I still loves ya despite it.

Ajax said...

Yeah! Batman, shmatman. Yhat about the 19 year old 'Clockwork Orange' violinist. She sounds very interesting.

Seriously though: Any movie where the lead double-stacks supermodels to get them into his Italian-made two-seat sportscar is a great movie. Any movie where the aforementioned lead buys an entire hotel so the aforementioned supermodels might frolic in the restaurant fountain is destined for greatness. Forget the silly bat-crime-fighting nonsense. More supermodel water-frolicking!

Also, the word 'spelunking' should see much more usage post-Batman Begins. Triple word score for the writers. Whoo!

T.H.Esaurus said...

IronMan rules

Mokuyobi said...

Hey! You know I have skills other than being able to play the violin.

I have numchuck skills...computer hacking skills...in fact I only want a boyfriend who has great skills.

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