johnlink re-ranks BATMAN BEGINS (2005)

With Christopher Nolan’s landmark trilogy concluding soon, I wanted to see the first two installments again. I’ve ranked the first film once, though it was back when I was in the infant stages of this blog and utilizing a more systemic method. I have never gotten to the second film for these pages (I haven’t seen THE DARK KNIGHT since it was in theaters), so I am definitely looking forward to doing so. Since this is a re-ranking, just a reminder that I do go back and look at my original article, but I don’t look at the scores as a way of trying not to match or contradict what I’ve previously put on record. Each viewing of a film brings with it a new perspective, so it is not a surprise at all if some scores change.

I watched BATMAN BEGINS (2005) on 7.6.12. It was my fifth viewing of the film, and first since November of 2009. Original ranking can be found here.

Having seen this now several times, my appreciation continues to grow. Comic book movies are still getting it wrong more than right (THE AVENGERS and most of its tie-ins being a notable exception). THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN reboot has BATMAN BEGINS to thank for its existence; no way a series gets redesigned so quickly if a successful, darker origin story doesn’t already exist. BATMAN BEGINS is, then, a movie many other movies are attempting to emulate.

This movie is not perfect. The batmobile appears out of nowhere when Batman needs it the first time. The technology used by the titular hero would have to be recognized by some who designed it. People run into each other in a giant city on cue. Unbelievable falls are survived.

But, shit, this is still a comic book movie, right? For all its serious musings and beautiful design, this is still a movie about a vigilante who dresses like a bat. Nolan really nails this film’s aesthetic in a way that had not been previously seen in the genre. The action is top notch, with the first appearance of Batman as we know him (the scene at the docks) being all-time action-flick memorable. The fighting is superb, and the multiple shots of Batman grabbing a villain before snapping off into the distance are spectacular. The drama builds to action in BATMAN BAGINS, rather than the action being the motivating force of the film.

In an entirely watchable film from beginning to end, the training segment with Liam Neeson and Christian Bale is such a joy to watch. Neeson doesn’t play this as a villain the way that Cillian Murphy does as Scarecrow. Instead, he is a man convinced that there is only one way to right the balance in the world, and that way just happens to involve mass murder.

The performances in this are a joy to behold. Bale is perfect. Absolutely perfect. Neeson and Murphy create a nice contrast as the baddies. Michael Caine is an absolute marvel as Alfred, a role he was born to play. Morgan Freeman brings history to an otherwise lost role as the man behind Batman’s tech. Gary Oldman really does embody the optimism of a young Gordon. Katie Holmes does some of the best work of her career as the moral compass for Bruce Wayne’s young and confused mind. Heck, even King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) gets to have a short (though memorable) turn as a little kid who gets a gift from Batman, and who later is protected by Holmes.

The acting, the writing, the cinematography, the mise-en-scene… all of it is taken more seriously than a comic book movie usually cares to. This could be an absolutely crippling formula, but instead Nolan turns it all into an asset as he manages to produce one of the best films of the decade. If there is one misstep in the design, it is that Gotham City does not feel like a city in the real world. The juxtaposition of the rich utopia against the crime filled distopia are, perhaps, too sharp in a city which seems to be nothing but corrupt and evil. Perhaps this is a necessary choice to spur Wayne to put on the Bat suit, but it does come across as the only heavy-handed concept in the entire film.

This is a classic. Perhaps it is too soon to label it as such, seven years out from its release, but I think this is one film which earns that lofty accolade. This is a movie I would watch in an instant any time someone suggested to do so.

SCORES

FILM: 8; MOVIE: 10; ACTING: 8; WRITING: 9; BONUS: 2

One point for the score, and one point for the cinematography. Each is rich, fulfilling, and an absolute asset to the joy of the film.

8+10+8+9+2=37

FINAL SCORE: 9.25

My previous ranking looked like this:

FILM: 7; MOVIE: 10; ACTING: 8; WRITING: 7; BONUS: 2

7+10+8+7+2= 34

FINAL SCORE: 8.5

So, my appreciation for this film HAS grown since the last viewing. Interestingly, I gave bonus points in the same two areas.

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~ by johnlink00 on July 7, 2012.

4 Responses to “johnlink re-ranks BATMAN BEGINS (2005)”

  1. Certainly the greatest Batman film ever made. That is until The Dark Knight Rises rears its head and brings it all the way back to this truly immense piece of cinema. Great review John.

  2. […] second review, from July of 2012 can be found here. It is written utilizing this site’s now-standard […]

  3. […] Here is the Link to BB (this is a link to my second article. The link to an older article can be found here as well). […]

  4. […] The magnificent CASABLANCA, the powerful INSIDER,  the joyous AVENGERS, a wonderfully rebooted BATMAN BEGINS, the well spoken RESERVOIR DOGS, the classic RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC, an old favorite CITY […]

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