Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bat Watch: Batman Begins (2005)

I hadn't watched this movie in a few years, but I've got a shelf full of Batman films, cartoons and TV, and on Friday night - in the wake of finishing The Caped Crusade: Batman and The Rise of Nerd Culture, it felt like time to review some Batman again.

Not sure what to watch, I just gave Jamie some options, and she selected Batman Begins.

It's amazing how well the Nolan films work as a piece.  Some of the moments of near mission statement in this movie echoing back at us in The Dark Knight Rises as the threads which gave meaning to Batman both within the universe of the movie and in our own world.

Because the movie still has the structure and flavor, in many ways, of a standard Hollywood actioner.  The ending is a giant set-piece that doesn't make a lick of sense if you think about it (anyone using a humidifier or boiling coffee or tea in Gotham the past few weeks would have been having a psychotic episode).  Batman causes an insane amount of property damage for very little pay-off, and villainous schemes of The League of Shadows kind of suck as far as "taking down a city".  It would be more of a "CDC emergency".  Or, "Flint, MI".

The last 2 or 3 times I've watched this movie, I tend to think of this movie and the series, in general, as this sort of Bat-poem.  The dialog is so weird and truncated and unnatural up to the point where Alfred and Bruce share a joke on the plane about Bruce being declared dead, that it feels like the spoken lines are beats of an epic Norse poem or something.  People aren't using dialog, they're stating viewpoints upon fear, upon vengeance, upon justice, upon crime.  It's a whirlwind of ideas shown in context, all of which inform the next two movies, both of which indulge in more of the same.

And, despite the character moments that begin to appear in Batman Begins as Bruce re-enters Gotham, it's an exercise in call and response, in pattern recognition, the hook and recollection dialog of 00's-era actioners turned into something fresh.

That's okay.  The movies are about the idea of Batman and its meaning, and these are films with a limited run-time.

As much as I love Adam West Batman, I am glad this part of Batman exists out there, too.  As Weldon rightly points out - they're all aspects of Batman, they all can co-exist.  I can love the Lincoln Futura adapted to sleek roadster as a Batmobile, and still enjoy the primitive thrill of the roar of the Tumbler's engine and hulking power.  I can enjoy the Batusi and Batman as ninja down at the shipping docks.

If this movie has issues, it sets us up for the next two, two of my favorite movies of this century, in general.  And, yes, I will argue with you about why Dark Knight Rises was a great film any day of the week (while conceding it was hard to beat The Dark Knight).

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