Batman Begins explores the origins of the Batman legend and the Dark Knight's emergence as a force for good in Gotham. In the wake of his parents' murder, disillusioned industrial heir Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels the world seeking the means to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful. He returns to Gotham and unveils his alter-ego: Batman, a masked crusader who uses his strength, intellect and an array of high tech deceptions to fight the sinister forces that threaten the city.
Just when you though that the Batman
franchise was dead and buried--certainly after the abomination that was 1997s Batman & Robin
--along comes director Christopher Nolan to brilliantly bring it all back to life with the astonishingly strong Batman Begins
Nolan, whose curriculum vitae already features Memento and Insomnia, focuses his attention where films in the franchise havent gone before--by examining that character of Batman himself. Thus, the story here is the genesis of the character, from the death of Bruce Waynes parents, harrowing training with the mysterious League of Shadows, right through to the Dark Knights first appearances on the street of a crime-ridden, moody Gotham City.
Nolan plays several trump cards in his take on the Batman legacy, and none pay off quite so handsomely as his casting. Christian Bale is an immense force in the dual role of Bruce Wayne and Batman, bringing a brooding anger and genuine unease to the Batsuit. Hes backed with strong turns from Tom Wilkinson, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, and Cillian Murphy as the unstable Scarecrow.
In spite of a last twenty minutes that cant quite sustain the tone of whats gone before, Batman Begins is a major achievement, and one of the finest superhero movies to date. Easily the best of the Dark Knights big screen adventures, it manages to be a blockbuster film thats unpredictable, compulsive, superb to look at and well worth many repeated viewings. A staggering achievement, particularly considering the state the Batman franchise had got itself into.--Simon Brew