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23 June 2005 @ 03:42 pm
Batman Begins  

It can be the kiss of death to go into a movie with sky-high expectations. I went in thinking it'd be The Greatest Movie Ever. Whereas it was just good. Which isn't bad, but isn't TGME.

First, the things I liked:

I liked that it was grittier and more realistic in its way than previous Batman movies. The pre-Gotham stuff was cinematically beautiful and full of fun kink. Plus they left it totally open for slash potential. Which is never not a plus.

Overall, I just thought the whole origin story was great. I haven't read any of the comic books or graphic novels, but there were wonderful details that showed a lot of thought and were recognizable backstory even for someone like me. My favorite happened during the scenes where the inmates escaped from Arkham and spread out through the Narrows. As they're drugged and hallucinating, Batman flies above them, and they all see him as this terrifying red-eyed demon. And that makes so much sense to me, because one of the credibility issues for superheroes is being taken seriously when they're running around in costumes and masks and naming themselves after small flying mammals. So here's the perfect explanation for why he *is* taken seriously--because the inmates who'll become the criminals Batman fights have been exposed to him for the first time while they're in a highly susceptible state of terror. Many of them will probably have nightmares of him for years to come, as will the inhabitants of the Narrows--ordinary citizens who will help create his mystery and myth.

The actor choices were cool. Especially Linus Roache, Morgan Freeman, and Qui-Gon. Cillian Murphy was the stand-out. He's kind of pretty, but in a highly creepy way that's not so much attractive as disturbingly compelling. I liked his character development and presence; how he started out more or less innocuous but then developed an air of menace that was amazing. And he has a great voice.

Things I didn't like:

Most of the dialogue was simply wooden and terrible. And the movie took itself too seriously--erring on the opposite side from the earlier movies, which were often too campy.

As just one example, the whole bit where Rachel identifies Batman as Bruce Wayne because he repeats that line back to her (about it being what you do, not who you are inside, that matters) was just GAH. So not good.

Overall, I just wasn't surprised enough. Even with a story where known elements have to be adhered to, there's potential for startling the audience, at least in how it's executed. But the initial parts of the movie were what I'd been expecting from the trailer, and the later parts weren't especially novel. E.g., the whole "Let's target the District Attorney" plotline. Yeah yeah. I did like that the Mafia guy was taken out of the picture early on--I didn't expect that. And the drug plotline was cool, I admit. (And reminded me a lot of Alias. Ha!) But it wasn't all that and a bag of chips. Just the bag of chips, really. I do like chips, but...eh.

I may be the only person who didn't like Michael Caine's performance. I thought his accent was bizarrely distracting and his mannerisms were too broad. I'd have liked the role played by someone more subtle.

Katie Holmes was just out of her league.

Christian Bale's pancake make-up was often distracting in later scenes, and many of his line deliveries while in the Batman mask were melodramatically sonorous, which pained me on his behalf.

Overall, it was around a B-. If I see it again, maybe I'd revise that upward. That's happened before, with movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, where I adored both Sparrow and Norrington more and more the second and third times around.
viverra_libroviverra_libro on June 24th, 2005 12:26 am (UTC)
Very similar to my thoughts on the movie. But I didn't have such high expectations b/c NPR said his performance was "sullen", and well, that's not an attitude that's usually going to be inspiring, or that I tolerate particularly well (in others, of course ;) ).

Total agreement on Cilian and Katie.

I also thought that it was uneven in walking the line between "cartoonish" and "dramatic" with the costuming and scenery. There wasn't a consistent feel to the world. Perhaps that was intentional, but I found it distracting, as it made me wonder how exactly I was supposed to perceive things.

Never thought about the "spreading the word" aspect of the flight over the city -- neat!

Hope you're feeling less out-of-sorts today. ::hugs::
Lady Agnewladyagnew on June 24th, 2005 02:51 pm (UTC)
I only saw the first 45 min of it -- mainly as a test viewing before I watched Mr and Mrs Smith to see what the whole fuss was about -- but I absolutely agree with the feeling that the movie took itself too seriously. The script was very intelligent in a literate way, as evidenced in the way words and verbal motifs repeated and gained in significance, etc. but the movie had no lift. It was determinedly earthbound, though I liked many of the little sharp moments (the killing of his parents, the murderer getting show down, Katie Holmes slapping him twice in the car), the movie was so focued on making its point, it didn't notice it wasn't really having an effect or any power. Felt more art-housey than mainstream entertainment, which is cool, but I like my superhero movies blockbustery and stuff.

I saw Howl's Moving Castle the week before, and even though I had problems with the plot and characterization, there are just so many moments of grandeur and charm and visceral beauty and that I want to see it again.
Anna S.: jm-shorneliade on June 24th, 2005 04:51 pm (UTC)
I saw Howl's Moving Castle the week before, and even though I had problems with the plot and characterization, there are just so many moments of grandeur and charm and visceral beauty and that I want to see it again.

I've heard several people mention this but hadn't heard any previous buzz on it--just looked it up in the IMDb.com. The visuals in their gallery are very intriguing! :)
Pouncer: Cillian Murphythepouncer on June 24th, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
I had a mixed opinion too, and wrote about it here. The predictability was one of the biggest disappointments.
Anna S.: christian-baleeliade on June 24th, 2005 04:50 pm (UTC)
Oooh--thanks for pointing to that. Good review. And people actually discuss things in your LJ! How do you get them to do that? I must be off-putting. :(
Pouncer: Flapper Profilethepouncer on June 24th, 2005 05:09 pm (UTC)
I have no clue how that post got discussion going - I've written other analysis that only gets "good points!" type replies.
Melycoffeeandink on June 24th, 2005 05:00 pm (UTC)
You are so good to me. :)

I thought Cillian Murphy was gorgeous and creepy and I wasn't sure whether or not he was Tom Welling until I realized he could act.