Wednesday, 1 August 2012

what went wrong with Batman Begins?

ever since I first watched it in the cinema, something didn't sit right with me about Batman Begins

it is a film that I have grown to love, but my initial viewing left me feeling rather unconvinced

and now, having just sat through Nolan's first chapter again, I think I may be able to deconstruct exactly where the problems lay.

please, don't get me wrong, I enjoy the film, but it does have certain flaws, we are after all talking about a director that hardly has a reputation for blockbusters, all of a sudden turning his hand to the superhero genre, and any mistakes made on Batman Begins certainly contributed to making The Dark Knight the cinematic benchmark that it is considered.

for a start, the film left me cold for a number of reasons the first time round, I was unsure of Micheal Caine's rather cockney Alfred, plus the film felt rather muddled, terribly unclear, and worst of all, Bruce Wayne's parents were now murdered after a family outing to the opera, and not the Zorro movie that has long inspired Batman's creation in the comics.

for that reason alone I was unsatisfied.

but like I said, with repeated viewings I grew to love the movie, and regard it in higher esteem than I initially had.

and yet, for the sake of critical analysis, let me brake down where it may have gone slightly awry.

there were a handful of cheesy moments, strange superhero swooshes and hammy lines that felt rather out of place in such a serious movie, but it was more than just this

the smallest of niggles that contribute to theses thoughts are mostly grounded in my love of the comics and the perceived history that has been built up around them, for example, Bruce's 30th birthday, when any self respecting geek knows that Batman should have been operating long before the ripe old age of 30!! I shan't bore you with more minor details of this ilk, as I believe the problem truly lies elsewhere.

such as the rather muddled storyline, and a lack of real set-piece villain for Batman to go up against, even after a couple of viewings, I still not entirely sure what was won and wht was lost by the end of the film.

and here is why, the character that this story hinged on the most was at too underdeveloped, and that character was Gotham City itself.

only after repeated viewing have I come to realise this, that Rās intends to bring the city to it's knees, pulling it down to start over again , yet the threat never felt real enough (water dispersed fear toxins and microwave emitting military weapons are hardly the recognised face of terrorism as we know it in the movies) and nor do we care enough about Gotham.

too much time is spent trying to flesh out other details that we never see Gotham for the previously decadent and now corrupt city that we are meant to believe it is, we are briefly told that it is a place of such importance that it's destruction is necessary, but never are we shown clear enough that this is the case.

and even when the high security inmates are busted out of Arkham Asylum in a move ripped straight from Knightfall, we never know the true consequences, because we don't know that much about Arkham and we don't really know who was in there and how dangerous they are.

It is a thoroughly admirable film, yet it does require patience, repeat viewings and more than just a basic grasp of the Batman myths to fully comprehend what exactly is happening.

with that said, it was interesting watching and anticipating what did follow and what is still ahead in The Dark Knight Rises.

certain moments were foreshadowed, other plot developments may have been hinted at, and I wonder what part Rās and the League of Shadows will play.

and is it just me, or did Batman look kinda chubby in his restrictive cowl in Batman Begins?

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