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Batman Begins

June 27, 2005

Yes, Batman’s back with a suitably alliterative title. After 3 instalments that can at best be described as blah (dear god above, that anatomically correct suit, replete with abs and nipples!), finally we have a Batman that is decidedly decent. Director Christopher Nolan (of Memento) has created a Bruce Wayne whose humanity is striking and raw, and a Gotham whose decadent decrepitude is too close for comfort.

Christian Bale is wonderfully dark as the caped crusader. (He is also quite a tasty morsel, but that’s beside the point.) His portrayal of a fearful creature who must become the feared is beautifully believable. His need to excise his guilt provides an interesting counterpoint to the wider questions posited, those of justice, inequity, iniquity, revenge.

Wonderful also are the performances rendered by Michael Caine, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman. Caine is the impossibly stiff-upper-lip butler Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s closest confidante. His deadpan delivery hits the spot, and throws into relief the possibility of loyalty and friendship in a world torn apart by selfishness and self-interest. Liam Neeson is wholly credible as the evil Ras Al’Ghul: his wonderful sneakiness coming to a head at the end of the movie. Morgan Freeman, like Caine, deadpans his way through the movie and provides the necessary comic relief to punctuate and puncture the suffocating darkness of the movie.

Batman has always been the darkest of all the DC/Marvel comic superheroes. Without superpowers, he is merely human, and must needs rely on his cunning, his strength, himself, even as he contends against demons without and, more imortantly, confronts the demons within. Batman Begins has done well in illustrating this struggle of not only external evils but internal ills. And in this day and age of America looking outwards to guard against the unseen enemy, but not retreating inwards to solve the Gothamesque problems of poverty, crime and deprivation, it is time for us to take notice of what this movie implies.

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