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on 10 June 2017
Well, feeling that Joel Schumacher had effectively killed off the Batman franchise with the camp nonsense that was 'Batman & Robin,' I was somewhat surprised to hear there was a reboot a few years later. Of course, reboots are everywhere these days but just a decade ago it was still a fairly new concept. So, not really knowing what to expect, I sat down to watch this film & was mightily impressed, though not just by its scale, its heart thumping action scenes & its gorgeous visuals but also by its storytelling & performances. Finally, we were given some background & psychological insights as to why Bruce Wayne became Batman, all thanks to director Christopher Nolan's & writer David Goyer's intelligent screenplay. What was also impressive was how they managed to take a comic book character & make not only him real & plausible but also the outlandish gadgetry he used too. Casting was also key, with Christian Bale perfect as both Bruce Wayne & the titular crime fighter, while ably supported by such stalwarts as Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Rutger Hauer, Liam Neeson & Gary Oldman; as well as rising stars, Cillian Murphy & Katie Holmes.

In the decade or so since its release, comic book films have largely turned away from the dark seriousness that this film seemed to enshrine as the way ahead for such movies & have injected far more fun, which is understandable as gloomy introspection can be a little dull after a while but for those who like the darkness & the more realistic approach to such fantastical characters, you really can't beat 'Batman Begins' & its two sequels. So, Christopher Nolan, I salute you!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 April 2016
This is a review of both the film and the Blu-ray - specifically the 'Limited Edition Steelbook' I ordered.

This steelbook case is an attractive item, depicting Batman in fine detail. It is, unfortunately, a rather costly version of the film (as I review, it's priced at £29.99) so I don't recommend it ... the ordinary Blu-ray is a good buy. The picture and audio quality are superb, and there are lots of bonus features.

The film ... this movie re-boots the Batman franchise. Directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, this film effectively defined the live-action Batman character for a decade. This is an origin story, exploring the genesis of Batman. We get to see Bruce Wayne suffer the loss of his parents, and his gradual distancing from normality, slowing becoming more than a man ... becoming Batman! The villains of the film are, for the most part, criminal gangsters - although two 'super-villains' from the rogue's gallery are included: the Scarecrow and Ra's al Ghul.

This movie, and the legacy it established, sought to place Batman in a recognisable world - depicting a sense of realism, as omitted from the earlier films. And so, for example, Batman's gadgets and his vehicle are given explanations and backstory (rather than simply just being there). Of course, having a near-immoral enemy - in Ra's al Ghul - does detract from this realism!

When the film was released, it was great to see the origin of Batman thoroughly explored - as it had only been seen in momentary flashbacks in earlier movies. Here, we understand how he's able to engage in martial arts, etc., as we see him train. All the major pieces and elements that are involved in Batman as a character - from Alfred to Wayne Enterprises, from Lucius Fox to the Batmobile - are included here. The film draws on the long history of DC comics, and seeks to create a movie that genuinely reflects how Batman is conceived in the original source materials. Of course, there are deviations - as the director has taken creative licence. Nonetheless, at its core this film does adhere to the comic books.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this movie - and have seen it several times since it's cinematic release - I still feel that it wasn't quite as good as it ought to have been. It lacked that special quality which makes movies truly great. And, in this case, I think that what was lacking was a singular sense of magnificent villainy ... yet what was absent here, in the first of Nolan's Batman film's, was more than made-up for in the sequel - with the arrival of the Joker. The sense of dread created by the Joker, in "The Dark Knight", is simply not apparent in "Batman Begins".

Still, this is a really good film. I thoroughly recommend it. It's suitable for children and adults alike, and serves as family entertainment (although there is quite a lot of violence).

This movie is an important instalment in the Batman saga ... and things go from being 'good' to 'great'. Well worth watching.
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on 23 June 2016
I go back some time and can remember the character from comics and when I saw him as part of a serial at the cinema. We used to go for the main film, but also to catch up with what happened to Batman. This probably wasn't the start of leaving people waiting, while the hero is in a dangerous position, but when anybody says "cliff-hanger", that's what I see, the Bat-mobile on the edge of a cliff and us on the edge of our seats.

We didn't see the kind of depths, explored in this genre, that this film and it's two sequels explores. We didn't find the need for any explanations, but were accepting of the hero's right to win and the villain's to provide the reason. As I've grown up, so has the medium and the message. For all the cheesy pieces in the mix, it still doesn't need too much of a depth of reason and philosophy. I think this film and it's following chapters finds the right balance.
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VINE VOICEon 8 April 2014
Okay. It's better than Batman&Robin. Quite a bit better. When the psycho pyrotechnics have subsided, the flames have turned to ashes and the Dark Knight drops into the shadows, you may wonder - if there's room for any thought in your head other than, "Wow", - how this was ever known as Batman 5. It's not a sequel. It's not a prequel. It truly is a new beginning. Christopher Nolan has taken the dominant franchise of the '90s and said, "Forget about it. Batman is reborn." And it's a bloody, brutal, beautiful birth.

Batman Begins does for the Caped Crusader what GoldenEye did for Bond. Ironic that Bale, who was so close to becoming the post-Brosnan Broccoli boy, should shoulder a series that lost its way so similarly to 007 in the '80s. For Batman&Robin, read A View To A Kill - bloated, camp disasters where stunt casting and expensively empty set- pieces suffocated the essential appeal: a damaged, dangerous, violent man - a detective, of sorts - solving a cataclysmic case and looking ineffably cool.

So, no more glitz. But no gothic, either. Nolan hasn't defaulted to Burton's original vision - remarkable in 1989, enjoyable but rather empty now behind Jack's sneer and swagger. Rather, he trusts in the inherent allure of Batman's dark heart and lets him loose on our world. Gotham here is a barely tweaked NYC, its suited and re-booted hero imposing but realistic - the logical result of a justice-seeking vigilante with limitless resources. From Wayne Enterprises' prototype body armour spray-painted black to the Bat-winged throwing stars he grinds out himself, Wayne harnesses bleeding edge technology to create an alter ego that's "something elemental. Something terrifying." He seeks and embraces the power to become a nightmare: "To turn fear on those who prey on the fearful."

Tapping into the times, fear is the film's recurrent theme. Bale has spoken of Batman as another American psycho and there is indeed something chilling when Bruce Wayne says, "People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy." It is a statement. It is a threat. Batman is the toughest of superheroes - a rage-fuelled creature of the night, whose heroics often fly close to fascism. Batman is a terrorist. But he's our terrorist.

Frank Miller reinvented Bob Kane's iconic character in Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. And while Sin City's comics genius isn't credited, Nolan and David S Goyer's script is indebted to Miller's exploration of Batman's bruised psyche and his noir-styled depiction of a Gotham wracked by organised crime more than costumed superfreaks (Tom Wilkinson excels as Mob boss Carmine Falcone). But the most surprising, shocking influence is from avant-garde Batman classic Arkham Asylum, whose terrifying visual style informs Batman Begins' most remarkable sequences - when people inhale the fear-conjuring hallucinogen of the evil Dr Jonathan Crane, aka The Scarecrow (the superb Cillian Murphy). From Scarecrow's sinister sackcloth mask spew forth images that send victims insane. The scene of Batman as an oily, snarling beast is simply unforgettable - proof that Nolan hasn't allowed a blockbuster's budget and expectations to blunt his edge.

The director is less comfortable with the third act's pre-requisite set-pieces, which suffer slightly, unusually, because of the strength of character and story that precede them. Most summer blockbusters expect spectacular action sequences to distract and amuse an audience bored by the `talky bits'. Bale's Batman is so compelling and the supporting cast (Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Rutger Hauer) so emotionally engaging that no effects-laden high-speed smackdown can quite equal the frisson of two people talking. Similarly, an increase in flippancy - making Gary Oldman's world-weary Sergeant Gordon ultimately a touch clownish - feels like a forced concession to blockbuster rules.

Casting Katie Holmes may be a similar concession, but while imagining her as a lawyer is a stretch ("You are, like, soooo totally busted"), she sparks with Bale in a lovey-dovey subplot refreshingly free of Peter Parker/Mary Jane-style whining. And Michael Caine is outstanding as Alfred the butler, providing the emotional spine for Bale's transition from little boy lost to hulking great brute. Emotion, in a comic-book movie? In spades. Nolan's picture will have your tear-ducts tingling and the hair on your neck standing straight. Funny, exhilarating and moving, it's a blockbuster whose brains and brawn are matched by a thumping great heart. The Bat is back with a vengeance.
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VINE VOICEon 2 September 2012
Batman Begins is an outstanding reboot of a very familiar setting, raising the bar for reboots and making Batman relevant and interesting again after a set of weaker film and television depictions. The 2005 film directed by Christopher Nolan has since spun out a couple of sequels but Begins is the start of the story and in its own right is a great blockbuster film. Taking Batman back to his origins, Begins offers Bruce Wayne's journey into Batman and a battle with a couple of really excellent villains. The tale of the lost soul that is Bruce Wayne and his redemption through the Batman alter-ego is really well told, vastly superior to previous Batman depictions.

Unsurprisingly, Begins is superior to previous depictions in that it sticks closely to some of the best of Batman lore. As with many comic adaptations, it is the use of high quality source material that makes for such a gripping story. The origins of Batman is in the death of Bruce Wayne's parents. Going back to the source, those parents are killed by a no-mark called Joe Chill. It is the casual and utterly avoidable nature of their deaths that makes it so interesting. Unlike previous screen versions where the meaning is entirely lost by changing the killer, Joe Chill is a perfect character to set Bruce Wayne off on his long journey. Chill is just a meaningless hood yet he guns down the wealthiest and most important citizen in Gotham. That juxtaposition entirely makes sense for the Batman character's motivation, the anguish of knowing his parents died for pretty much nothing.

A decade later as a somewhat tortured teen Bruce Wayne clearly has not overcome the grief and nearly makes a massive mistake. His subsequent journey to what appears to be the Himalayas is an outstanding sequence, probably the strongest part of a terrific film. Finding Ra's al Ghul as a mentor, Bruce Wayne's entire life view is questioned. Coming of age and finding out who you are is an all too common motif but Batman Begins gets it so very right. Wayne is trained physically but more importantly he is trained philosophically. Ra's offers an incredibly plausible case for turning to the dark side. This is fascinating as so often the case is made for turning to the light but Ra's offers argument about being prepared to defend values that really resonates. It is Wayne's eventual rejection of the Ra's philosophy that ultimately leads him to be Batman.

The physical action during the training sequences is amazing. The place really feels cold. The real-life location of Iceland is a decent stand-in with the sequences on the frozen lake being particularly breath-taking. Probably the most impressive physical action takes place when Bruce faces his final challenge. The combat within a maze of ninjas is beautiful choreography.

While the eastern sequences are particularly impressive, the visuals in the return to Gotham are also very nice. Gotham is dark, it is broken, it feels oppressive. In some ways the Gotham of Batman Begins shares the feel of Sin City. While it might not be quite as harsh as Sin City, anything that compares even closely to Sin's brilliance is itself impressive.

Perhaps the two highlights of the return to Gotham are Bruce Wayne's development of a double life and the villains he faces. The angst of the Batman character lives alongside the arrogance of another character. Bruce Wayne himself disappears. All that remains is the grim and unrelenting Batman and the vacuous Bruce Wayne. Neither is the real person. Other double life super heroes have only one alter ego, Batman Begins presents two in the same person - fascinating. The pinnacle of the Bruce Wayne alter ego is his incredibly insulting speech at a party in his honour. It is just dripping with egoistic venom. It serves a particular plot purpose but really pushes character boundaries in a way that other films have not dared.

As with any great character, it is the relations with others that mark Batman out. Love interest Rachel Dawes played by Katie Holmes is the perfect romantic foil. She is sweet but highly intelligent. She sets a standard for Wayne that he cannot possibly meet. This is just so excellent - the romantic love interest should be easily obtainable. Katie Holmes is not a stunner and she's playing a girl next door. Even so she turns the exceedingly rich, handsome, and altruistic Wayne even when she knows all he does. This denial plays so well into Batman's heart-hardened character.

His relationship is far closer with Michael Caine's Albert the butler. Caine works very well in this role. His trademark accent seems to fit which is unusual for a film from this century. Albert is the helping hand Bruce needs but he's also the source of some of the film's underlying meaning.

The corporate angle of Bruce Wayne's life is one of the few areas that doesn't quite work. The antipathy with Rutger Hauer's Earle interacts with Morgan Freeman's Lucius Fox doesn't flow well. Earle is one of the few cliches in the film and his line about getting memos is horrendously dated and out of place in such a modern and dark film. Lucius Fox is not much better. Why he is buried down in the basement with all the most interesting gadgets is unclear as after all those are the very pieces of equipment that a corporation would want to avoid falling into the hands of others yet the enemy of the acting CEO seems to be given free run with all the corporation's technology.

Still, the weaker spots are more than made up for with the interaction between Batman and the various villains. Scarecrow and Ra's are both outstanding. Scarecrow is wonderfully played by Cillian Murphy. He is incredibly menacing especially without the mask. The way he inflicts fear upon the vulnerable is truly evil and makes for a great opponent. Ra's is much more of a subtle combatant for Batman and it is right that there seems to be some respect between the pair. Liam Neeson's height, age, and gravitas fit so well.

All of the greatness of Batman Begins would not be possible without Christian Bale. Bale is himself quite a dark and intense person. In the same way that Robert Downey Jr was ideal for Iron Man, Christian Bale is ideal for Batman. He is less believable as the young adult Bruce Wayne in Gotham but he is pitch perfect on the trail towards the Himalayas and fits both the gritty, noble, and self sacrificing Batman and the spiteful and anti-social persona of Bruce Wayne.

The acting is supported by good action sequences. Good use of the utility belt and other traditional Batman effects helps. The batmobile looks great. The chase sequence it is involved in is perfectly fine but not especially interesting given the over-abundance of chase sequences in cinema. Batman's fighting style is interesting. It does not looks like boring wire work but it seems hard hitting and impactful.

As a piece of cinema, Batman Begins is coherent, interesting, and entertaining. Some of the characters are superb, especially Batman and the two main villains. The setting works so well and taking Batman back to the darkness the original exists in makes for a far more thought-provoking plotline than anything television or cinema has produced so far. Christopher Nolan's reboot of this franchise is a cut above many other reboots and everyone involved deserves credit.

The DVD Extras on the two-disc edition are solid. The talking head work is really good, exploring the most interesting aspects of the film. The technical exposition of the costume and the batmobile are both engaging. The miniatures special effects section is a little un-inspiring but the introduction to the fighting style is fascinating even if some of the elbow crunch strikes seem a bit odd. The Extras are a good complement to an outstanding film.
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on 19 August 2012
After growing disillusioned with his privileged life style and never really having recovered from being left an orphan at an early age after the brutal murder of his parents, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) the billionaire industrialist leaves Gotham behind in search of answers heading for Tibet where he meets the mysterious Ducard (Liam Neesome) who offers him a chance to join the mysterious League of Shadows ran by the all powerful Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) a secret organisation trained in ninja skills who intend on eradicating organised crime. After being at odds with their intentions and methods Wayne returns to Gotham with the skills learned from his experiences with intention of dealing with crime in his own unique fashion.

Some eight years after Joel Schumacher hammered the final nail into the previous era of the Batman franchise with the truly atrocious Batman & Robin, Warner Brothers recruited critically acclaimed director Christopher Nolan to reboot their property . Before this Warner had wisely rejected the option to let Schumacher make a fifth film and put their product back on the shelf, rumours had circulated that Darren Aronofsky had intentions to make a low budget gritty version of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns but it was 2005 that they decided to put a film into production with Nolan helming with David S. Goyer collaborating with Nolan to make this origin film and re-introduction of the caped crusader.

With 9/11 casting a long shadow over everything the intention was to dispense with the camp excess of the previous attempts by Burton and Schumacher and present Batman in a more real world. Nolan had impressed with his second film the critically lauded Memento, one the most original thrillers of recent times and also with his follow up shown he could cope with big names eliciting two electrifying performances out of Al Pacino and Robin Williams in his more than competent Hollywood remake of the acclaimed Swedish thriller Insomnia but this would be the first time the Brit would be allowed a big budget and the weight of bringing a franchise back to life which was frankly in a laughable state.

Key to his film would be finding the right actor to bring Batman and Bruce Wayne to life, Bale who had impressed in his early years in Spielberg's Empire of The Sun and more recently terrified with his portrayal of Patrick Bateman in the big screen version of Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho. Bale unlike previous actors would give a far more three dimensional approach to the character, essentially playing three roles, the playboy, the real Bruce and of course the Batman. No other actor really nailing this down. People in retrospect have argued for Michael Keaton's take as definitive but I've never heard a good enough argument to convince me of this. Bale presents all angles of Wayne's personality brilliantly, if there was to be any dispute over Wayne it certainly was redundant when Nolan cast the two times Oscar winning legend British actor Michael Caine as Bruce's faithful and fatherly Butler Alfred, the man responsible for bring him up after his parents murder. All other takes on the character seem jokey and unreal whereas Caine with a warmth world weariness and experience that completely sells his casting in the role, those world famous eyes saying more than many actors can say with their mouths, simply Nolan couldn't have chosen better. If this wasn't enough, for the role of Jim Gordon, here only a Sergeant in the Gotham Police force and shown in flash back in uniform, another Brit would be employed, Gary Oldman who had made a return to commercial arena playing Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films like Caine feels like no one else was better, Oldman has always been renowned for sounding like an American despite not being a native and his Gordon adds another impressive reading to his C.V.

Nolan rather than going for the cannon villains of the series opting for not so well known Ra's Al Ghul and Scarecrow as well Carmen Falcone making sure the focus is on Batman and not some colourful scene stealer's, he gets a roster of capable actors Liam Neesome , Cillian Murphy and Tom Wilkinson to bring Batman's adversaries to life.

At the time the idea of the reboot was something that had rarely been attempted despite now becoming Hollywood's most popular option to ring the cash tills. Batman Begins is actually an incredibly important film, for all the talk of the Bourne franchise being the main reason the Bond series was rebooted it is this film that actually gave EON the idea they could reset their property and bring it into the 21st century. Nolan a professed Bond fan takes a few pages from that series with Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) here obviously Wayne's quartermaster equipping his boss with an arsenal of technology to allow him to make the crime fighter more unique and formidable. Nolan would also recruit Bond veteran Chris Corbould SFX guru amongst other things to realise Batman's most famous vehicle the Batmobile. After previous incarnation just looking frankly ridiculous, Corbould with the tumbler would present a practical and impressive form of transportation that would aid the detective rather than just look good, the tumbler being half car half tank, a expensive project developed for military use that was deemed too expensive gathering dust in the warehouse of Wayne Enterprises until it catches the companies owners eye.

A more comic book like approach than it's sequel, Nolan clearly needing to introduce his take as realistically as possible, although the League of Shadows element does jar somewhat with a more real world feel, the film feels more comfortable once Wayne returns to Gotham to put his plan into place to strike fear into the hearts of Gotham's underworld, this moment of the film feels where Nolan is more at ease, the second half with plot to flood the cities water supply with poison and the climax feel far more of the comics and give way to some cheesy dialogue, Oldman's Gordon gets given some ripe lines to say and at times feels like some jokey side kick, an element that Nolan thankfully jettisons in the sequel. Although back in 2005 for my money this is the best comic book film to date, I guess the first Superman or Bryan Singer's second X-Men entry might give it some competition but Nolan took the genre somewhere it had never really been before adding a depth and darkness, some striking visual sequences, using Falcone's body draped over a spot light in the shape of the bat insignia is particularly memorable and Crane accidentally gassing himself with his own weapon and witnessing a demon like Batman must rate as one of the most darkest moments the genre had attempted at the time. Nolan who at the time said he had no plans for a sequel still teased us with a tantalising send off as Gordon hands Batman a playing card which the detective says he'll look into, it would be another 3 years before Nolan would return to the story but boy would it be worth the wait!
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on 7 February 2015
It's ok but very farfetched and ridiculous at times , The special effects are also not very good for a batman film which really surprised me , I think at times the film tried too hard when it really didn't need to be so complicated and over the top for example the bad guys are not really very bad in the whole scheme of things but just generally seem to jump in and out of the story to add some kind of interest to the storyline , I don't think this film really needed to exist in the first place , It was an interesting watch to see the development of batman but the film made me start to ask more questions than answers.
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on 9 August 2017
Exposing the foundations of how Bruce evolved both physically and mentally into the Batman answered questions I wasn't aware I had. Action sequences were great and the Wayne Corp. toybox (curated by the incomparable Morgan Feeman) is an Aladdin's cave of science and technology where anything's possible if money's no object. Plus the Tumbler is superb
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on 19 December 2016
I bought the Steelbook, and I often complain to Amazon for mixing all of the reviews together, so now I have made that clear. The orange in the image on Amazon is actually a reflective bronze colour, which is far nicer than the image can reproduce. So you cannot see the true quality of what you are buying, so you will have to trust me that the real steelbook is far nicer than the image.
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on 30 November 2015
Batman Begins is a great start to the Christopher Nolan adventure into the world of Bruce Wayne. I admit that I bought the other films on Blu-ray before this one out of preference but then bought this at an outstanding value price on Amazon.

Looks great, sounds great.....Its BATMAN....what more can I say.

The Blu-ray comes with the expected extra features and looks stunning as most modern movies do on Blu-ray. Very Happy
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