Sunday, January 31, 2016

Batman Begins (2005)

      Batman Begins (2005) [D: C. Nolan. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, etc]
     A typically convoluted story about good and evil in Gotham City. Well-done CGI of the city, the usual slam-bang-boom, fire-and-crash destruction, plus Ninja-style fighting. It’s a good attempt at providing a psychologically plausible back story for Batman, whose parents were murdered (deliberately) in a mugging when Wayne was about 10 years old. It invokes chivalry, loyalty, courage (defined as accepting one’s fears), and of course duplicity and narcissistic self-aggrandizement among the evil doers.
     Does it work? The Batman of DC comics was more of an abstraction of the Knight. This Batman is human, the fights are staged to emphasise his vulnerability. He nearly dies learning the fighting skills he needs. Alfred has to rescue him a couple of times. He has to work through some pretty heavy (if a bit hokey) psychology to become the Dark Knight.
     The movie is a fable, abstract patterns of in/justice, good/evil, protectors/destroyers, and so on threaten to overtake the human story without which the fable becomes merely an essay dressed up as a story. The figures that represent or express these values risk their lives, which engages our sympathies (even the evil Ducard, who wants to destroy the world because compassion has upset the balance that he identifies as justice, is complex enough to make him believable.) Romances happen in a fantastic universe, here technology stands in for magic, and a wise scientist-inventor for Merlin.
     I liked this version of Batman. He’s not really a series character, though. I suspect the sequels will focus more on spectacular crashes and ingeniously cut fight scenes than psychology. ***.

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