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Month of Superhero Film Reviews: Batman Begins

Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Day #25 of my Month of Superhero Film Reviews! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best and worst comic book adapted films. Alrighty then, we’ve talked about both of the Tim Burton Batman films, we’ve also talked about the ONLY Joel Schumacher that matters, so we’re skipping ahead to 2005 with the awesome Batman Begins.

Okay now we’re talking. I remember not being initially interested in this film at all due to its whole dark and realistic approach and lack of traditional Batman comic source material. But then I gave the film a chance around 2 or 3 years later and I found out that I really liked it. The film was definitely different and there were a number of things I wasn’t keen on but otherwise it was a solid film which I appreciated. So its been a while since I’ve seen it last time and now that I’ve watched it again has my opinion changed? Read on to find out.

So the plot in this film tells the origin story of the Bruce Wayne from his fear of bats to the death of his parents to his training with the League of shadows to his eventual transformation into the hero known as Batman. In this film Batman has to deal with the villain Scarecrow and the much larger threat in the form of Ra’s al Ghul and his plot to destroy Gotham City.

The story was pretty cool. Even though I am a very adamant comic book fan, the more realistic, dark and gritty tone really worked thanks to the great script and good direction from Christopher Nolan. Everything works in a more practical and realistic fashion, though there are comic book elements implemented as well and I think they’re incorporated nicely. The reason I liked the story so much was due to Bruce’s origin story, I don’t think there’s been a Batman film to date that’s gone this deep into Batman’s life prior to donning the suit. We get to see his childhood, his training and the creation of his lair, suit, weaponry and so on. I also like the part of the plot involving Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows plan to destroy Gotham, I thought it was pretty cool and hardcore. I think my only issues with the film is the fact that it wasn’t as comic book-esque as I had hoped, Batman is character I’ve always enjoyed in the animated TV shows and to see all of the source material changed and modified to work in the real world just didn’t gel with me at times during this film.

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Now let’s talk about the cast who do a good job at bringing these characters to life for the most part. So let’s start with Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman. I do like Bale’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne, I think he gives us the most accurate version of the character from the comics and his journey through this film is pretty cool and much more detailed than any other Batman film before it. However I can’t say that Bale makes a good Batman though. Bale as Batman is just terrible due to one key factor… His voice. I understand that Batman is different from Bruce Wayne and needs a different voice, however Batman in this film sounds insanely stupid! He’s all gruff, gravelly and as a lot of people have been saying online, sounds like he has throat cancer. Though it does make for some unintentionally funny lines of dialogue.

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Then we have Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth. I do love Sir Michael Caine and I think this is the first film where I really became accustomed to him as an actor. Caine’s version of Alfred feels like he has more of a backstory and feels like he has more of an active role in Bruce’s life after he becomes Batman. You can see that Alfred definitely care for Bruce and wants to help him out, but he also isn’t afraid to speak his mind and voice concern when dangerous situations look like they’ll occur. Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes was where I personally found the weak link in the film. Don’t get me wrong she’s not that bad in the film, but she’s not that great either. Dawes is a character made for film and has no relation to the comics and as a love interest for Bruce I just didn’t care because that is the one element in superhero films that I can deal without. Also Gary Oldman as James Gordon was cool, again like Michael Caine’s Alfred I feel like Oldman’s Gordon had a more active role than his predecessor and left a better lasting impression on me. Oldman is a fine actor and while his character isn’t as big as he is in the sequels he’s still pretty cool here.

Then we have our first villain in the form of Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard. Neeson is one of the most awesome actors out there and I loved his character in this film how he becomes Bruce’s mentor only to turn out to be the bad guy later on down the line. You can see that Ducard has much mystery surrounding his character and that as good as he may seem he has ulterior motives and I thought Neeson did great in the role and made the character magnetic on-screen. As for villain number two who was Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow we was different, his character was very clever, questionable and strange and as the Scarecrow he was even funkier using his toxins to make people freak out and hallucinate. But as good as he was I felt like he could have been better and when he is taken out it is done in the most anti climatic way.

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Tom Wilkinson makes for a cool Mafia boss as Carmine Falcone, he’s an intimidating bastard who plays a small part in the larger picture of evil plans going down in the film and Wilkinson was good. And lastly Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox was just the coolest guy ever. He’s a guy that works at Wayne Enterprises but also supplies Bruce with all his gear necessary for his missions. I like the relationship that Bruce and Lucius start in this film and since the character is played by Morgan Freeman you can’t really complain can you?

Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is nice I like look of Gotham City because it is so dark, has great lighting and has a unique colour palette that really helps show off how ugly and distinguishing the city is. I also like a lot of the action sequences in this film, Batman’s attack sequences are nicely pulled off though it is badly shot and edited at times because you can’t really see what’s going on. As for the soundtrack by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer its pretty good, the score that they create while it doesn’t have that same level of epicness and gravitas that Danny Elfman’s scores did back in the Tim Burton’s films, it does have a main theme that sounds pretty beastly and overall the soundtrack amplifies the action in the film very well.

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And lastly how does it compare to the comics? When it comes to Batman I’ve only read a few comics, most of my knowledge comes from years of watching Batman cartoons and research online. I think everything in this film is modified to work in the real world so characters, vehicles and weapons work in a more practical and realistic manner. There are a few comic book elements retained like the death of Bruce’s parents and his fear of bats and his martial arts skills too. I’m not too familiar with the villains of the films so I can’t talk about them. Other than that everything else is either new or changed for film purposes.

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So to conclude Batman Begins is a pretty cool film. A lot of people these days say that this film is the weakest element in The Dark Knight Trilogy but I think that is unfair as it was the film that created the foundation for the sequels to build on. This film created a new, dark and realistic world for Batman and redefined the character with much stronger storytelling, themes, characters and wonderful presentation. The film does indeed have problems and I don’t love it as much as I did before, but out of all the three Batman origins we’ve had so far this is my favourite and I recommend the film highly.

Rating: 7.5/10 (It’s dark, gritty and different but it’s still hella good!)

So there’s my review people, and now we’ve reached the FINAL 5 FILMS! WOOOO! So have you seen Batman Begins and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2013 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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Films I’m Looking Forward to in 2012: The Dark Knight Rises

Howdy ladies and gents and welcome to another instalment of Films I’m Looking Forward to in 2012. And today’s post will be on what could be described as the most anticipated film of not only the summer, but of the whole year; The Dark Knight Rises.

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Now is there really any need for me to talk about how big this film is? Do I really need to try and convince you as a person to see this film? Chances are you already know about The Dark Knight Rises and are ridiculously hyped for it. But there are a number of people in the world that aren’t that well-informed or in some strange cases may not even care about this upcoming Batman film, so for those people this blog post is gonna be about the info surrounding the film, why I’m hyped for it and why you should see it when it comes out in July.

Now TDKR is the third installment in the series of Batman films directed by the awesomeness that’s Christopher Nolan (director of Memento, The Prestige & Inception). First we had Batman Begins in 2005, which was the first Batman film since the disgusting piece of work that was Batman & Robin from 1997. Luckily Batman Begins was a solid film that was dark, gritty and make Batman seem pretty cool again. That film also introduced us to a more realistic take on the superhero genre, Nolan’s take on Batman was more like a realistic thriller with superhero elements attached to it in my opinion. While Batman Begins was good, it did have it’s fair share of problems like: Christian Bale’s raspy Batman voice, horribly messy fight scenes, the tumbler and the poor use of the villain Scarecrow. Overall though Batman Begins was very successful both financially and critically and the fans became obsessed and wanted another one…

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The film that started this crazy train of Batman madness. A good entry to this Batman trilogy.

So then wait three years down the line, it’s 2008 and we were given what many comic book fans and critics consider to be the best comic book film in existence, The Dark Knight. Before this film came out, the hype for TDK was insane. No seriously it was like the world was going to blow up. The stakes were higher, the scale was bigger and most importantly we had Batman’s best and most recognisable villain in there too, The Joker. The marketing for this film was very well crafted. The viral campaigns were so stylish and the trailers for the film looked insane and was so much deeper, creepier, darker and more realistic than ever. Unfortunately actor Heath Ledger who portrayed the Joker in the film died 6 months prior to the film’s release which shocked man people around the world, that in turn did make more people pay attention to the film due to the media’s coverage of Mr. Ledger’s death and how he was attached to TDK. So anyways The Dark Knight eventually came out in July 2008 and it blew up at the cinema. It was the hottest film of that summer and of that year. It was a hell of a lot better than Batman Begins, there was deeper character development, better fight scenes, wonderful cinematography, a fabulous soundtrack and an incredibly dense and interesting story. Though the best part of the film really was the Joker, he really just stole show in the film. Heath Ledger gave us a dark, twisted and chaotic version of the character who took inspiration from the comics while still offering up something new. Every scene he was in was incredible. It truly was Heath Ledger’s best performance in my opinion. The film blew up as the box office and broke so many damn records, some of which have yet to be broken to this day. For me TDK is a great film, though it’s a tad overhyped for my liking. Some things were still off for me like: Bale’s gruff and raspy Batman voice,  the film’s pace sort of dragged at times and the realistic setting as good as it was it started to feel less like a Batman film and more of a realistic thriller with Batman characters lurking around in it. And I also thought that TDK lacked a bit of the charm that came with Batman Begins too. But that’s just my opinion.

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The film that’s seen by many as the best superhero film in existence.

So after the success of The Dark Knight how do you follow that up? By being Christopher Nolan and busting out another film in 2012, that’s how! After TDK many fans of the film wondered how would one honestly follow-up a film like that when you’ve used the most iconic villain and put Bruce Wayne/Batman through a great deal of pain already. Well, somehow the production moved ahead, we found out that the two main new characters would be Bane and Catwoman and Chris Nolan teamed up with several of his previous collaborators in order to craft what would be his final Batman film.

Now I ain’t gonna lie ladies and gents, as much as I like Batman and have a great love for the many animated TV shows over the years, I can’t say that much of a big Batman fan overall. Technically speaking I’m a Marvel fan, more so than DC. So when it comes to big superhero films I know everything when it comes to Marvel and then casually look at DC-based stuff. So in turn that’s why I’ve been more interested in The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man, and that’s also the reason why’s there’s much more information on those films then the amount of TDKR.

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Anyways now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what’s the story of this film gonna be? Well it apparently takes place 8 years after TDK and it seems like Gotham City has been in a state of peace for a while, that is until two new villains show up on the scene in the shape of Bane and Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman). Batman must then come back into action and save the city from being destroyed. To be honest from what’s been shown in the full-length trailers, this film looks like it’s going to be big and on a much bigger scale than the previous film. I thought that The Dark Knight was the height of epicness that could be reached in Nolan’s Batman films and yet here we see in this film that the stakes are higher, the level of destruction going on is insane and it seems like Batman might actually be defeated or even worse… Killed. I found it interesting back in the early casting days that a few members from Inception was gonna be joining the cast of TDKR in the form of Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And since we’re on the subject of casting I guess now would be as a good a time as any to talk about the cast of this film.

So let’s start with Tom Hardy as Bane because I’m always more interested in the villains then I am in Batman. Now I remembered when he was signed on to the big bad villain role and most of us who had watched either Inception or Bronson knew what the deal was with Hardy so we knew we had a good actor at the ready. Now when the first few pictures came out, a good number of fans were complaining that he was too small and that he needed to look more in-lin with the comic book material. Though you’d think a lot of them would have learned that Chris Nolan’s Batman world is much more realistic than those of the conventional comic book movies so there are bound to be liberties taken with character design. And let’s remember that a great deal of stuff from Nolan’s Batman films only bare small resemblance to their source material. But anyway moving on, I remember when the first trailer came out and Bane’s voice was soooooo muffled and I had to listen really carefully to understand him and that was a major factor with all the people who saw that 6-minute preview of the film back in December. Luckily by the time the latest trailer came out Bane was as clear as day and he looked and sounded like a badass. He just seems like a big badass man of destruction. Not only is he more than a match for Batman himself, but he also seems like a calculated man ready to bring a new type of chaos in a different way from the Joker.

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Now let’s take about Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Okay we’ve seen him in the previous two films and he’s a been through a lot, but in this film Bruce/Batman looks like he’ll be put through hell and back physically and mentally. I’m just curious to see what’s been going on in Bruce’s life in the 8 years between the last film and this one. And I also wanna see how the story develops his character too. Compared to a lot of other superhero films, Bale’s version of Bruce Wayne/Batman I’m not overally interested in, he’s alright and I’m sure there are people who love it but for me there’s never been a point where I’ve been attached to his character.

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Okay now let’s move onto Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. I think it’s fair to say that when Ms. Hathaway was cast as Catwoman a lot of people weren’t too keen on her. I mean she’s hot, that’s a fact. But outside of that not many of her films have ever been amazing and she’s not really the first actress you think of to take on the character as interesting and as complex as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. But most us trusted Chris Nolan’s judgment as he’s never made a film where the cast didn’t work in his favour. The first screenshots we got of her were interesting, but lacking the more ‘cat-like’ aspects of the costume which lead a lot of fans to go into frenzy about it, complaining in many of the forums I passed through. Other people just thought she looked hot in leather and never questioned anything else about her haha. Eventually we did see the full uniform and she indeed have the cat ears and to be honest that’s all I needed. In the trailers she seems very suspicious, provocative and acrobatic; all the key aspects hat Catwoman requires, so I am curious to see what Anne Hathaway does with the role and hopefully she’ll do her comic book character justice.

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Now I know that there are many other additional cast members that’ll be part of this film, but to be honest I’m only mainly interested in a few specific people outside of Batman, Bane and Catwoman. Like Alfred, I love Michael Caine in these Batman films and I believe him to be one of the key aspects of what makes Nolan’s films work, he is the reliable butler always supplying helpful information and supporting Bruce throughout all of his endeavours. I’m also curious to see what’s been going with Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and I also want to know what the significance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character as John Blake. Outside of characters I’m looking forward to some absurdly cool scenes of destruction and cool spectacle. I also am ready for another kick ass soundtrack from Hans Zimmer who I swear is a composer of music who can never do wrong! I’m also curious to see how the character dynamic will work between Batman and Catwoman. The key thing that has my interest in the fight between Batman and Bane, finally we’re going to get a big one-on-one fight with Batman and another enemy which is totally necessary in my opinion. I just want to see Bane break Batman! 😀 We haven’t seen a proper representation of all of Batman’s martial arts skills and how he’d use them along with his gadgets in a fight. Fights in Batman films seem to lack style, choreography and that ‘cool’ effect you’d get the X-Men or Spider-Man films which excel in their fight sequences (sure they have super powers but they are still done well and that’s what counts).

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In conclusion The Dark Knight Rises is looking like an epic conclusion to the Christopher Nolan Batman films. Its got action, drama, atmosphere and so much more. Any fan of Batman or Christopher Nolan shouldn’t miss out on this film. It really is one of the biggest films of 2012, people have been patiently waiting for the arrival of this film, but now that it’s so close fan are starting to blow up. This film along with The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Hobbit is in the list of the most anticipated film of the year. Now The Avengers already started off the summer film season with a bang and has proven to be a success with fans and critics. It has now set the standard for good films this year, it’s also broken loads of records financially and has now become the 5th highest grossing film of all time! So TDKR has some pretty big shoes to fill, however if history is anything to go by, then by the time we get to July 20th the Batman fans will come in great numbers and destroy Marvel like they did in 2008. However times are different and The Avengers is no simple comic book film, it is the definition of the ultimate comic film and has been anticipated for 4 years (even more for comic book fans of the older generation). Either way I know TDKR is gonna be a big deal this summer and I’ll be there to see what the deal is. 🙂

If you still need convincing of the awesomeness of this film watch this trailer:

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Films, Media

 

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