Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
100 Greatest Characters
Your all-time favourite heroes and villains
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save up to 63%
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

LATEST DVD REVIEWS
Woman In Gold
4 Star Empire Rating
Accidental Love
1 Star Empire Rating
Duff, The
3 Star Empire Rating
Queen And Country
4 Star Empire Rating
Salvation, The
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
My Darling Clementine
5 Star Empire Rating
Third Man, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Monty Python’s Life Of Brian [steel book]
5 Star Empire Rating
Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Goodfellas
5 Star Empire Rating

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


submit to reddit


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


Related Reviews
Books
Art Of Batman Begins, The
 
Games
Batman Begins
 
Sounds
Batman Begins
 

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Batman Begins
Empire Star Rating

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


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


RE: Batman Begins

atman & Robin, George Clooney and co practically killed off the Dark Knight. It is an extremely camp version of batman, totally unbelievable bad guys and why the hell does Batman have his own credit card. I mean WTF. Batman Begins thankfully enough is the total opposite and thank God. Christopher Nolan has managed to transform a hero that had become a laughing stock into a tormented, dark hero that most fans would expect. t=arial] t is very good. Batman has to save Gotham from a to... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dapper Dan Man at 16:19, 15 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: 5 Stars? 5 Sodding Stars?!?!?

L: blaud What is wrong with you? the story is all over the place and the overall style screws up the batman legacy p; how?  ... More

Posted by krudler at 13:51, 21 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: When did this review change??

I thought Begins was great and a much needed reboot to the franschise. Nolan is a great director and I cant wait to see The Dark Knight this weekend. 4 stars from me. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shool at 10:34, 21 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: When did this review change??

L: fierce-hairdo ORIGINAL: max314 ORIGINAL: Mycroft Batman Begins annoys me. They set him up as a symbol of inspiration but then don't properly show what impact he's having on the city, especially from the public's perspective. We really don't have a good understanding of the city at all, the Spiderman films do a much better job of that. They also make no hay out of it being a symbol of fear that somehow inspires people. At the end of the day the only thing we're shown of Br... More

Posted by SkullKassidy at 03:04, 21 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: When did this review change??

L: darth silas Just to respod to Mycroft and Fierce hairdo's comments on Batman supposedly betraying his mantra about killing people.Batman did not kill Ras'al ghul,Batman saved the city,by jamming those controls on the train making sure it did not reach gotham tower,he then saved himself by blowing out the back of the train and gliding to safety. He wouldnt have been able to save Ras anyway cos he wouldnt be able to glide away by carrying him.Batman made the choice between saving go... More

Posted by no1psh at 13:30, 20 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: When did this review change??

Just to respod to Mycroft and Fierce hairdo's comments on Batman supposedly betraying his mantra about killing people.Batman did not kill Ras'al ghul,Batman saved the city,by jamming those controls on the train making sure it did not reach gotham tower,he then saved himself by blowing out the back of the train and gliding to safety. He wouldnt have been able to save Ras anyway cos he wouldnt be able to glide away by carrying him.Batman made the choice between saving gotham or saving Ras.He... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by darth silas at 12:26, 20 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: When did this review change??

As anyone seen that bit in BrassEye where Morris is toying some judge into saying Batman shouldn't go? It's bloody funny. ... More

Posted by DanCurley at 12:17, 20 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Is he the Bat, or just a frail mouse with fake wings??

Mmmmm. I watched this last night. I'm starting martial arts tonight (Jeet Kune Do - Bruce Lee's free-forming type) and I wanted Liam's "If you can fight six men you can engage 600" ringing through my ears as I walk in and start flying kicking.   ...the only other Batman film that deserves to even be mentioned next to BB is the one from the '60s (which truly is one of the most hysterical movies ever made). Joel Sch must have been weeping from all three eyes when he first watched Be... More

Posted by DanCurley at 08:21, 08 January 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

 www.lermanet.com/image/mad-magazine.jpg ... More

Posted by Mason Verger at 20:46, 07 January 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

God I'm amazed my input still kicks around on this site.   Well after much refelction and soul searching and a couple of viewings, BB is still overrated and only got any kind of acclaim cos its better than Batman and Robin. Over egged under thought and  just far too long kinda like the new King Kong movie.   Where are the classic lines?   Where does he get those wonderful toys? remember Bob you.... are my numberrrrrr onnnnnnnn  na Love that Joker &n... More

Posted by LoganX at 23:25, 16 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Begins, but prefer Burton's 89 vision despite its flaws & oddness. Begins; in going for a more realistic tone, makes it harder to actually make Batman comfortable inside it. Hence the lengthy intro/set up and thereafter the brief & veiled glimpses of Batman in action. e=2] e=2]Burton's gothic Gotham was created to accommodate Batman & the Joker. Even he had to conceal a great deal of the action in shadow, steam and long shots. Lets face it, actual characters decked out like thi... More

Posted by zenon at 14:00, 22 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

  Batman Begins was great. How did so many people find it boring?! After sitting through the previous 3 Batman films, Begins was excellent! Nolan made it so that it was real, similar to Burton's version. The acting was just right, and katie holmes was fine (would people leave her alone), and Cilian Murphy provided a decent and non-eccentric scarecrow, but with the same amount of malice and wit- perfect. It was dark, beautiful and damed well dramatic too! it certainly stunn... More

Posted by jor el180 at 18:07, 20 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

How boring was this film,and that murphy bloke as scarecrow was just crap. Blade is the ultimate superhero.   ... More

Posted by cenz at 14:59, 20 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

i like this film it was more gritty than other batman films and gave something fresh to the franchise ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by elfzooey at 12:06, 20 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

AN BEGINS Director Christopher Nolan/b]  [b][/b]  Just when the movie world thought that a particular comic book / film franchise was over and done with, pre nbsp;: INTIMIDATION GAME[/b], hence all the mixed and purposely built miss-leading stories in the press, director Christopher Nol/b] movie to date. [b]BATMAN BEGINS[/b].   This movie tackles and portrays Bruce Wayne / [b]BATMAN[/b] from an angle previous/b] fans would argue the fact that that Tim Burtons [b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Samuelpoet at 11:21, 20 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

s been the best Batman since Keaton. They made this film darker and they went back to the original roots. Neeson was perfect as Ra's - no one could have played it better that's for certain. t=arial] the new Alfred too. Just the right amount of cockney in a butler, of course, and you can't really go wrong with Caine in anything he does. t=arial] ance was a different matter, though. Katie Holmes was surely not the right person to play this part. She was practically wooden in character, and I s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jessica_ca_ca_ca at 09:23, 15 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

People here knows nothing about Batman from Frank Miller. Definetely! It's actually a copy of the first film but with different characters and a different style, I would even say dull, and not dark, sometimes ridiculous, like the small jokes they have to insert and a stupid romance that never ever happened in a batman graphic novel! Liam Neeson, great actor usually, but what a ridiculous part! "Excuse me, i got a city to destroy". Boooooo!!!! Clicheeeeee! And that is a really huge Chris... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mrsbateman at 22:46, 14 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Batman Begins

FAB FAB FAB - I though it was the best yet ... More

Posted by FBTurner at 16:51, 13 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Most Over rated Batman Film without doubt

You are absoultly right everone else on the planet has gone mad Batman Begins is shit. Micheal Keaton is a legend. ... More

Posted by Naweed_1 at 16:18, 13 March 2006 | Report This Post


Batman survey

i am a student and my dissertation subject is on Batman. I have posted a survey which asks 12 simple questions on all the batman films to date. If you do the survey i will be really greatfull and hopefully get a good mark with the information that i will gather from you. Batman Survey (1a) Have you seen all the batman films from Tim Burtons 1989 Batman to Christopher Nolan’s 2005 Batman Begins? *Yes *No (1b) If No which films have you... More

Posted by The Cheshire Cat at 21:29, 12 March 2006 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
My Movie Life: Andrew Haigh
The 45 Years director on the movies that made him

Vanity Projects: The Musical Edition
A dozen more hits and misses from the rock and pop world

Inside The Martian: Empire Meets NASA
Prepare to science the shit out of it...

Deadpool: A Complete History
Empire's guide to The Merc With A Mouth, in comics and on screen

Evil Media: Haunted TVs, Tapes And Tunes
Ten sinister reasons to go off-grid

Spectre – Everything You Need To Know
Empire's essential briefing on James Bond's 24th outing

The N.W.A-Team
Empire visits the set of Straight Outta Compton

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)