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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Christian Bale
Michael Caine
Cillian Murphy
Katie Holmes
Liam Neeson
Ken Watanabe
Tom Wilkinson
Rutger Hauer
Gary Oldman
Morgan Freeman.
Directors
Christopher Nolan.
Screenwriters
David S Goyer
Christopher Nolan.
Running Time
140 minutes

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Batman Begins
Christopher Nolan's impressive reinvigoration of the bat-franchise.


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Plot
Billionaire down-and-out Bruce Wayne (Bale), traumatised since the murder of his parents, is recruited by The League Of Shadows, ninja assassins devoted to eradicating society's ills. Rejecting their methods, he returns to Gotham and embarks on a one-man war against crime.


Review
Batman Begins

As the title suggests, this sets out to be radically different from the series inaugurated by Tim Burton's Batman in 1989 and trashed by Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin in 1997. Indeed, director Christopher Nolan gets even further than Burton from the camp of the 1960s TV show, to the point where you wonder how cartoonish Bat-foes like the Penguin could ever appear in Nolan's rusty, economically desperate Gotham City.

Whereas Burton sketched an Art Deco hell and shoved Michael Keaton on screen in a Bat-suit in the first minutes, Nolan puts off the moment when Christian Bale dons the mask for almost an hour. Influenced by the look and feel of the X-Men films, Batman Begins spends a lot of time in a world only just removed from reality before getting to the superheroics.The first act finds Wayne in a Chinese prison and a Himalayan monastery, transforming from bearded brawler to black-clad ninja as he flashes back to a lifetime of trauma that - in this version - began even before his parents' deaths, as he falls down a well and is terrorised by the bats which later inspire his night persona. Burton had Wayne's mom and pop killed by the hoodlum who would become The Joker, but Nolan reverts to earlier comics and makes the murderer a panicky no-one named Joe Chill, blurring the set-up so young Bruce and even Wayne Sr. (Linus Roache) must take some blame for the killings.

The Nolan who made Memento and Insomnia is at home with extreme psychological states - this might complete a Three Colours Of Neurosis trilogy by following memory loss and sleeplessness with phobia. It's certainly a smart move to cast the former Patrick Bateman as a Batman who always seems about to crack up. Bale even makes the old playboy-idiot act work, suggesting - as Michael Caine's dry Alfred notes - a man who needs to pretend to have fun because he might accidentally enjoy himself.

Batman maintains a secret identity, but he's recruiting an army for a war - forming alliances with Gordon (Oldman), the only honest cop in Gotham, and Wayne Enterprises' R&D man Lucius Fox (Freeman), while treating childhood sweetheart/Assistant D. A. Rachel Dawes (Holmes) as much as an informant as love interest (she takes the role played in comics by Harvey Dent, who becomes the disfigured villain Two-Face, suggesting a possible career-changing stretch for Holmes if this thread carries through).

With a city that looks less fantastical than Burton's, Nolan hits the streets and slums of Gotham to show a horrific escalation of evil that demands Batman's presence even as Gordon suggests he might make it worse; old-fashioned Mob guys (Tom Wilkinson) are edged out by masked freaks (Cillian Murphy, starily creepy even before he pulls on his Scarecrow hood) and a fanatical force run by the bastard sons of Fu Manchu and Osama bin Laden. Unlike Burton, Nolan doesn't skimp on action either, with brutal fights, vehicle chases and, in one great sequence, a mass escape from Arkham Asylum of serial killers and maniacs doped up with the Scarecrow's fear serum.

In terms of big-screen comic-adaptation triumphs, it's recently been Marvel who've been ahead (X-Men, Blade, Spider-Man); but, by learning several tricks from Marvel franchises, Batman Begins undoubtedly gets rival comics house DC back in the game.


Extras

Batman Begins (2 Disc Edition) Batman Begins (2 Disc Edition)
Released: 21 October 2005

Batman: The Journey Begins: creative concepts, story development and casting.
Shaping Mind and Body: the fighting styles in the movie.
Gotham City Rises: production design.
Cape and Cowl: the new batsuit Path To Discovery: filming in Iceland.
Saving Gotham City: the monorail sequence.
Genesis of The Bat: Batman incarnations from teh mid-1980s to the the present.
Confidential Files: character and weaponry gallery.


Verdict
Significantly grittier than previous Bat-beginnings, this finds new things to do with, and say about, a character who's been around since 1938. In a year when the franchise watchword is "dark", this delivers the full noir with a side order of dementia.


Reviewed by Kim Newman


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Batman Begins
Empire Star Rating

Batman Begins is Darker and Better

Check out my other reviews on http://straighttelling.co.uk! Everyone must be familiar with Christopher Nolan's epic Dark Knight trilogy by now. This is neither a sequel or a prequel to the previous Batman films. Nolan decided to revamp the franchise. No one suspected this new take to be darker or even better than the 89' original. Nolan is experienced at dealing with psychological issues (Memento and Insomnia both cover it) and is if not the best to tackle Bruce Wayne's troubled past. Thro... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TroyPutland at 10:40, 13 May 2014 | Report This Post


"Sometimes ... a man rises...from the darkness ...", and sometimes a movie does too, and this movie is the proof!

In 1989-1992 Tim Burton made ​​two classic Batman movies (BATMAN RETURNS-BATMAN), just great movies to watch. In 1995 Joel Schumacher made "BATMAN FOREVER" that was actually a good movie, but with only one good and perfect performance (Jim Careey). But in 1997 Schumacher simply ruined the franchise with the stupidly stupid movie "BATMAN AND ROBIN", ruining the Batman franchise and destroyed, was excluded from Hollywood. 8 years later in 2005, Christopher Nolan wa... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ralph25 at 23:20, 11 April 2013 | Report This Post


Batman Begins

An Excellent Start To An Excellent Trilogy ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LukeTheFilmFan at 15:01, 21 February 2013 | Report This Post


Batman finally takes centre stage

The title of my review refers to one of many influences of Richard Donner's Superman on Christopher Nolan's excellent take on Batman's origin story, as it is the first instalment in the franchise where the show is not stolen by a wildly over-the-top villain, but the Caped Crusader himself. This was a Batman movie that simply needed to be made, not just to repair the damage from Joel Schumacher's 1997 abomination, Batman & Robin, but to truly do justice to the character of Bruce Wayne. By ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 20:04, 05 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

L: chris kilby I'm even later to this party than I was to k Knight Riseshat the hey... Where ] he get those wonderful toys? It’s a question which clearly has bugged Christopher Nolan for years. Well now we know – he gets them off that guy in wshank Redemptionn get you ga Batmobile! A straight origin story (albeit one told in the anything-but-straight, disjointed narrative style of Jean-Luc Godard or Nic Roeg which only settles down into something more linear and conventional ... More

Posted by cerebusboy at 17:28, 23 August 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

L: chris kilby I'm even later to this party than I was to k Knight Riseshat the hey... Where ] he get those wonderful toys? It’s a question which clearly has bugged Christopher Nolan for years. Well now we know – he gets them off that guy in wshank Redemptionn get you ga Batmobile! A straight origin story (albeit one told in the anything-but-straight, disjointed narrative style of Jean-Luc Godard or Nic Roeg which only settles down into something more linear and conventional ... More

Posted by cerebusboy at 17:23, 23 August 2012 | Report This Post


Brilliant Film

A fantastic film that is a perfect example of how to do a superhero film. All the cast are at the top of their game, the story and dialogue is powerful and in general it is just a brilliant movie. The score is also spectacular as is the editing, visual effects and everything else. Epic film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reaper996 at 16:33, 21 August 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

tl;dr ... More

Posted by homersimpson_esq at 17:16, 20 August 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

I'm even later to this party than I was to k Knight Riseshat the hey... Where ] he get those wonderful toys? It’s a question which clearly has bugged Christopher Nolan for years. Well now we know – he gets them off that guy in wshank Redemptionn get you ga Batmobile! A straight origin story (albeit one told in the anything-but-straight, disjointed narrative style of Jean-Luc Godard or Nic Roeg which only settles down into something more linear and conventional once Citizen Wayne arriv... More

Posted by chris kilby at 17:01, 20 August 2012 | Report This Post


In preparation of watching The Dark Knight Rises in just over on hour ( :happy: 8) 8) ), today I watched: tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372784/]Batman Beginshristopher Nolan`s reboot of the Batman franchise is probably the best origin story ever, my appreciation of this film grows with every viewing. Everything is right, from the thundering musical score and the story to the story and the wonderful dark atmosphere, from Christian Bale who gives us a great Batman to the excellent direction by... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 18:05, 24 July 2012 | Report This Post


Bale, Caine, Neeson, Freeman, Murphy, Oldman and Wilkinson are all superb in this film, the villains truly are fantastic, a brilliant twist in the third act and by the way in Dark Knight Maggie Gyllenhall is so much better than Katie Holmes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gears of Kong at 04:10, 10 June 2012 | Report This Post


Fear

Goes deep into Batman's origin, which is what us fans need. It goes really deep in fear, which is the films theme. It is very well done, the acting is top notch. Bale gives Bruce Wayne/Batman the heart the character has been missing. Simply a masterpeice. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MovieFanatic9 at 21:10, 15 May 2012 | Report This Post


The film rushed its beginning which to me was important to show how he got to be where we've never seen before. The beginning was also abit cheesy, and that to me (giving that I saw the dark knight first) isn't very Nolan. But never the less, was enjoyable and I ADORED watching batman, and the larger than life, full-of-depth Bruce wayne. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by YouWillBeUnprepared at 11:40, 12 May 2012 | Report This Post


Very good start to the movie trilogy.

It was a generally good movie, I really liked it a lot. But I didn't personally like Ras al Ghul. But overall strong. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by asda24995 at 14:50, 24 January 2012 | Report This Post


Batman Begins Review

Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 23:41, 13 December 2011 | Report This Post


Odd plothole

I can't believe I just noticed this. Ok so this toxin has to be inhaled through the lungs, not drunk or eaten. It's been in the water-mains for weeks, and in all that time not one citizen of Gotham, boiled a kettle? No cups of tea, coffee, hot water bottles, porridge? This is still one of my favourite films but this is a huge oversight. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by pleakhouse at 00:17, 26 August 2011 | Report This Post


Batman Returns

Batman has always seemed to make great viewing and with the darker takes on him of the past to decades, great movies. This was a real treat though. It’s almost a rational take on an irrational super hero. Christopher Nolan has managed to give Batman a human face and the world he inhabits a sense of scale and realism. But that’s not to say that it is lacking in the sense of the theatrical. Back in 2005, the hype for this film was building, with a new take on the old comic hero taki... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by neopol at 09:59, 03 June 2011 | Report This Post


Classic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 17:31, 04 November 2010 | Report This Post


Batman is Darker and Better than Ever Before

To be honest, I never really liked the old Batman movies to begin with. And I think we can all agree that the series went downhill rapidly (Batman and Robin ring any bells?). So you can understand why I would have my doubts about this attempt to reboot the Caped Crusader. And yet, Batman Begins comes through on all fronts, with a much better explanation of Batman's back story than anything the comics and Tim Burton have ever managed. And featuring two of Batman's less commonly known baddies (... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by COLO at 15:08, 08 July 2010 | Report This Post


definitely one of the Greatest movie ever made ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mbembet at 09:09, 07 July 2010 | Report This Post


A sense of the theatrical...

Batman has always seemed to make great viewing and with the darker takes on him of the past to decades, great movies. This was a real treat though. It's almost rational take on an irrational super hero. Many of his trates had become figures of fun and jokes, but this movie successfully explains away the fact that he can keep this double a life a secret and that he's up all night and nobody seems to care! Chris Nolan has managed to give Batman a human face and the world he inhabits a sense ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by neopol at 16:13, 09 May 2010 | Report This Post


Great

One of the best movie of the decade ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shady_88 at 16:52, 13 March 2010 | Report This Post


Having seen Batman and Robin I felt that there was no hope for the Batman franchise but here we are!!!! I've never left a cinema so unbelievably satisfied. This is taking Batman back to its dark roots!! Brilliant piece of film and the start of a new generation for Batman. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PureAinmhi at 15:54, 14 June 2009 | Report This Post


Where do I 'Begin'?

Christian Bale becomes the most believable Batman to date and Nolan sets the bar for all comic book adaptations with Begins. This is a great origin story with Nolan and Bale creating a tormented, broody bat and yet again a belivable Gotham. Burton and Schumacher’s ignorance have been put to shame by Nolan. Unlike previous Batman films Begins stays true to the comics and Nolan impressively makes the most mature and fresh comic book adaptaions to date. . . Apart from the sequel obviously! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shaunyboy27 at 11:45, 23 April 2009 | Report This Post


Batman at his Best

The dark knight returns to his brilliant brooding best after the disaster that was Batman and Robin. Christian Bale is a magnificent Batman/ Bruce Wayne creating depth to both sides of his persona. Nolan's realistic approach to Batman is groundbreaking and brings the gritty, dark influence of Frank Miller's Year one to create a film that is an explosive adreneline filled adventure. The Hans Zimmer soundtrack helps to emphasize the dark tone that is expected of a Batman film. Batman has been bro... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DAMO 89 at 16:59, 19 March 2009 | Report This Post


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