“Batman Begins (2005)” Review

‘Batman Begins’ is a truly rubbish title. It manages to have connotations of both ‘Batman’s First Day at Work’ and ‘We Want to Start Another Lucrative Franchise’ yet, despite the alliteration, it fails to sound even vaguely impressive. Why wasn’t this just called ‘Batman’?

Why did I watch it?

Memento is one of my favourite films, and his remake of Insomnia is terrific. I’ve enjoyed other of Christopher Nolan’s films (Inception, Interstellar) but comic superheroes aren’t particularly my thing, so I never got round to watching his Batman trilogy. Maybe I’d been missing out?

Did it meet expectations?

The ‘origins’ part of the story is very much the kind of thing Nolan excels at and its absorbing and impressive, if a little rushed.

Once we get into comic book territory, though, the slightly po-faced approach to the material seems to miss the mark (Bale’s over-played growling “Do I look like a cop?” is funny for the wrong reasons). The physics and the psychopharmacological aspects of the plot are treated with absolute seriousness, despite their absurd lack of credibility. Gary Oldman’s Gordon feels like the only performance that’s not underplayed to the point of vanishing (perhaps because he’s so experienced at going over the top) and its spot on. Michael Caine as Alfred is not bad either, filling the role that Michael Gough (The Cybernauts) so definitively stamped his mark on. And Cillian Murphy makes a compellingly edgy (if disconcerting youthful) adversary. In terms of the Bechdel test, well, there is a woman in the film but that’s as close as it gets. (That’s 0/8.)

More than anything else, it’s made me want to re-watch the Burton films, which I remember as being more fun. But this is just about good enough that I’ll give the next film in the trilogy a go…

You should watch it if…

  • You are willing to switch your brain to neutral for a couple of hours entertainment.

You shouldn’t watch it if…

  • You require a sense of humour in your superhero movies.

Next up: The Death of Stalin (2017)

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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