Plot: As a child, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) watched his parents bleed out in the street, after a holdup went south. As he grew up, he remained haunted by the experience and consumed with the concept of understanding of criminals, which would lead him on a global exploration. As he delved into the darkness of the criminal mind, he eventually found himself locked up in a rundown prison. A mysterious man named Henri (Liam Neeson) would rescue him from the prison and offer him a path, a chance to battle against the darkness that plagues his mind. This leads to intense ninja training and Wayne hones both his mind and body to peak levels, but he balks when asked to kill a criminal. He refuses to be an executioner, which creates a rift between he and his new trainers, but Wayne is able to return home. As he was assumed dead, his return shocks most everyone, but with the help of a butler and an untapped genius, Wayne plans to take back the night.
Entertainment Value: While the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman films treated Batman as a prop, with the villains as the real focus, Christopher Nolan puts his Batman front and center in Batman Begins. His vision remains faithful to the established lore in most ways, but would push toward a darker, more action movie oriented Batman, a huge shift in approach. Nolan also recruited a remarkable cast and polished the entire movie to a high shine, so this is pure Hollywood gloss. I like Batman Begins, as it is a good action movie, but I don’t love the overly serious, generic action movie elements. But then again, Adam West is my personal favorite Batman, so perhaps a deadpan, high sheen Batman was never going to bowl me over. The production values are impressive however and even if you miss the fun, quirky Batman threads, this still stands as a well crafted action movie. Christian Bale has the lead and dials up the camp, shouting all of his lines like a total lunatic. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the cast, who deliver skilled, subtle performances, but I love the wide gap in performance approach. In the end, I wouldn’t rank this as one of my favorite Batman movies, but for those who appreciate a darker, more action driven superhero, this is highly recommended.
No nakedness. I can imagine how insane a sex scene would be here though, with Bale screaming at the top of his lungs at a calm, understated Katie Holmes. But this wild scene never takes place, as vengeance is the focus, not romance. No blood. The movie has a good deal of action, but it is all bloodless and while the overall tone is dark and serious, the action doesn’t reflect that approach. The fight scenes are polished and well staged however, certainly the most elaborate in the Batman cinema world up to that point, so genre fans will love those sequences. The gadgets get some screen time as well and deliver the expected superhero fun, though the Batmobile is kind of jank in this one, if you ask me. The dialogue is well written and well performed, but Bale is just totally off the rails with his effort here. As I said, he simply shouts all of his lines and this leads to some unintentional humor, which I appreciate. We also have self righteous blather and some pupil/mentor lingo, but otherwise, while well written, this one doesn’t have much memorable stuff. On the craziness scale, this one is pure Hollywood action movie and doesn’t veer from the usual elements, but Bale’s ridiculous performance puts one point on the board.
Overall Insanity: 1/10