Thursday, December 01, 2005

Batman Begins


Dir: Christopher Nolan (Memento; Insonmia)

I am pissed off at this movie. In the way that you get pissed off at someone who has so much potential and wastes it on something trivial. In the way I am pissed off at Stephen King for taking his awesome talent and applying it to books about killer dogs. Here is a movie that teases me, makes we want to love it, and then snatches it all away in the interests of careening a train into a building.

The early story of the Batman begins well enough, a series of flashbacks and Freudian pre-adolescent traumas that explain the choice of a wealthy socialite to hang out in a cave and beat up freakish criminals. But it is a glorious fifteen minute segment high in the mountains where the film leaves its mark. Bruce Wayne learns to channel his hatred into vengence. And Liam Neeson too has learned that. There are subtlties and complexities to their divergent paths in the face of the same trauma that are begging to be explored. And it is so clear that the filmmakers could easily have done it, had written the back story, had probably even shot the scenes, ones that would take a long time to really explore the philosophical underpinning of the various strands of vigilantism espoused. Here would be a narrative that has something important to say, as well as being exciting to watch.

But, the need to get to the car chase left these bits, alas, for the cutting room floor. Or, hopefully, for a directors cut 3 hour long DVD, where the potential of the film can be realized. The pivotal choice of how to express ones vengence is too hurried, and fails to satisfy. Once the Batman is born, the movie is on its own a fine entry into the genre, with lots of cool gadgets and an interesting apocalyptic plot, etc. I enjoyed it and would recommend it on those levels.

But I can't help but be haunted by what could have been. Watching this film made me realize just how good the first Matrix movie was; that when you can combine a smart and sophisticated story with lots of cool popcorn effects, you have really pulled something off. Batman Begins sacrifices story, and I feel cheated.

I'll get over this and like the movie more in six months. But so close!



Blogger Paul Johnson noted on 12/01/2005 11:05:00 PM that...

I felt the same way about Insomnia, another Nolan film- it could've been AMAZING and instead was just very solid because a couple bad directions were taken at a few crucial points.  

Blogger ronvon2 noted on 12/01/2005 11:19:00 PM that...

You seem to be on a summer blockbuster kick.

Even with all your criticisms, I still believe BB is a one of the best comic films ever (toss up between Dick Tracy and Spiderman 2 for the top spot). You knew there had to be a climatic showdown; at least he tried to make it metaphoric.

Nolan has made three really solid films-and only three films. By all accounts, that is a noble beginning to what I hope is a fine career.

Again, my apologetic personality comes to the defense of the flawed...  

Blogger ronvon2 noted on 12/01/2005 11:20:00 PM that...

Oh, go see the original Insomnia. Great Film.  

Blogger Omri noted on 12/03/2005 02:04:00 AM that...

Marcus vs. Roger Ebert: This is at last the Batman movie I've been waiting for. The character resonates more deeply with me than the other comic superheroes, perhaps because when I discovered him as a child, he seemed darker and more grown-up than the cheerful Superman. He has secrets. As Alfred muses: "Strange injuries and a nonexistent social life. These things beg the question, what does Bruce Wayne do with his time?"

I think it would've benefited from more talking animals.  

Blogger ronvon2 noted on 12/03/2005 11:44:00 AM that...

Well, there is 6 foot tall talking bat...  

Blogger maxwell noted on 12/06/2005 02:53:00 PM that...

I'm with Omri on this one. It's the best of the crew. Although I do miss the tight skivvies of batman forever.

I like comic heroes who have problems.