Hey folks, Harry here... Last night... or actually tomorrow night in Japan (international dateline) was the "world Premiere" of BATMAN BEGINS and ol Sanjuro was there for us! However, if you want to see what it was like to be in the audience watching the crew of BATMAN BEGINS present the film to their first audience.... Click Here - (thanks to Steve from Belgium for that link!) - there's some of the new BATMAN BEGINS music over some of it, plus all the introductions and actor and talent greetings to the Japanese audience!!! Very cool. I see this Monday and couldn't be more jazzed. Moriarty, cur that he is, sees it today! Fuckhead!
First-time reviewer here, just got back from the world premiere of Batman Begins in Tokyo and it was AWESOME!!! The flatout verdict for this film is: MAGNIFICENT! Basically, here's to Nolan and his crew - mission successful: franchise restart accomplished, sequels will be greenlit immediately (or at least they better be). I'm a Japanese guy studying film in the States and I'm one of those douchebags that will say Batman can kick Superman's ass with an array of kryptonite tools, sure Bats will die of radiation but not before killing Supes, right?
Anyway a quick premiere report before I get into the film. As usual, the red carpet brought in the token Japanese celebs first before the near-entire cast came including Bale, Neeson, Freeman, Holmes, Watanabe, with Nolan and his wife/producer Emma Thomas, and other producer Charles Roven. There was a surprise random appearance by Gerard Butler, who was in town promoting "Dear Frankie." The problem was nobody knew he was gonna be there and he started getting pissed off pretty quickly as everyone kept on giving him Batman flyers for autographs - duh, it is a batman premiere after all - and dude we didn't know you were comin'. Anyway, same old publicity deal: Neeson gave words of gratitude in Japanese, Katie felt honored and thanked us, Bale said it was futile to judge the movie before we had seen it so he decided to let the work speak for itself, also saying something along the lines of "Your excitement's catching up with me and now I'm getting an adrenalin rush, this time it's a completely different Batman that you've never seen before. For such a cultural and mythological icon, this is THE realistic version of Batman. So I hope you enjoy it!" Freeman quipped "Talk to this man, if you don't like it," pointing to Nolan, "if you do like it tell your friends." And finally, Watanabe felt honored representing Japan in Hollywood (GO KEN GO!)
Anyway, onto the film. The film starts off with a Marvel-rivaling DC Comics logo and it kicks ass. Followed by THE fall into the cave where Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) wakes up (it was a nightmare), in a Chinese prison. Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) representing Ra's Al-Ghul's (Ken Watanabe) League of Shadows finds him at the prison, recruits and trains him. Soon, Wayne leaves in an explosive exit and returns to Gotham, cracking down on crime, one step at a time.
As a Batman fan, I was very much satisfied as this successfully covers everything of his origin and character; as Bruce Wayne, there is the idealist and then there is the playboy, and Batman. It also gives definitive explanations into the gadgetry involved and sweeps you into the Batman universe. It had the obligatory "I'm BATMAN" scene (his introduction, in fact), which was marvelous. There were certain moments that reminded me of the first Batman movie, such as the antagonist spraying gas over the city and there was a fantastic sequel set-up for the Joker's entry into the franchise, which personally I cannot wait. Nolan MUST do the trilogy that he and Goyer have envisioned and I just hope they continue to cast acting greats as the bad guys.
As a Batman movie, all the right elements were there, the aforementioned obligatory line, the quips, even the obligatory kid idolization scene wasn't too mushy. When you think of such a dark character, you don't think of him as a kid's hero but in the scene where the boy looks up to him, it works because he is living in such a shithole that anybody that decides to clean up is a hero in his eyes, regardless of freaky costume.
Another great thing was how the villain did not steal the show it is, as stated by the makers, Wayne's show with Batman as a strong secondary character. The bumpy part with a sequel would be continuing this balance of having a strong Wayne-driven narrative but with a Batman ass-kicking every time crime had to be punished. Other do's and don'ts for the sequel would be definitely to bring a solid Joker, a scene with Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) introducing the Batwing - haha - and certain Scarecrow related items could come in handy for Joker (laughter/death instead of fear/death, perhaps)?
Nolan's true auteurism is apparent even in a comic book genre pic such as this. His trademark playing with the flashback, non-linear narrative works well when confronting Wayne's fall into the cave. The music sounded great with Zimmer's action pieces nicely complimenting Newton Howard's more psychological tones, although personally I'll have to go again to appreciate it fully (as well as buying the soundtrack, of course). The performances were stellar - Bale is THE definitive Batman, even though he sounds a little like a more hoarse version of Alec Baldwin as Batman, it is to good effect and the scene where he interrogates Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), and even more so with Detective Flass, really captures the intimidating, feral nature of Batman from the comics. The two definitive identities clearly felt like the same person this time round, in past movies Wayne never came out clearly in Batman and vice versa. The big stuff about the movie, the action and the car chases are all top notch but the smaller nuanced performances from Freeman and Oldman are superb. Oldman is MONEY - many funny quips belong to Gordon and I hope they give him an even meatier role for the sequel. Tom Wilkinson as mob boss Falcone was solid and you gotta hand it to Michael Caine. In this movie, you finally feel the love between "father and son" and not that sugary crap they forced down our throats with "Batman & Robin." Gotham actually feels like a city, alive with people and an atmosphere even though it has succumbed to corruption. Combining the downtown areas featuring Wayne Tower (and monorail) with surrounding shanty towns, one can actually live at the Nolan-NY Gotham rather than the Burton-Gothic Gotham or Schumacher-Versace Gotham. Nitpicking flaws, I'll have to save for the second time I watch this. The only thing I can think of is maybe some of the action scenes (non-car related) had quick editing but then again I wasn't in the best of seats.
As a moviegoer, this is truly a summer spectacle rivaling Star Wars, which doesn't come out here until JULYYYYYYYY! (patience, yeah I know). The Japanese audience loved it although I'm sure many were disappointed with Watanabe's screen time as was I but he definitely played the pivotal role convincingly and enigmatically.
If Batman was like a mozzarella garlic bread, looks nice but tastes bland, then Batman Begins looks and tastes like a juicy steak from heaven filling your entire palate with deliciousness. It's gonna be the standard for Batman movies (and comic book movies) for years to come. I don't think they'll want to tinker with the origin ever again until Warner Bros feels the need to restart the franchise after they give Paul W. S. Anderson, Batman Beyond.
If you post this, I'm Sanjuro Kuwabatake.
And now... if you breathe... here's the Pope from Brazil with his look at BATMAN BEGINS!
Harry, I am a long time reader from Brazil.
Just left a special press screaning of Batman Begins and was blown away. I was almost crying in utter joy. This is everything we could ever hope for and maybe even more.
What makes this pic so mesmerizing is its epic scope. Unlike other super-hero movies (including spider-man) this is a dense and profound movie. It makes the spidey flicks soppy sentimentalism look like preppy garbage. Nolan's analysis of the Dark Knight's trajectory carries an emotional punch unlike any we have seen in blockbusters before. Unlike Hulk, it is however enjoyable and interesting. Despite not having Batman showing up for the first hour, the pic does not loose its pace.
Batman's origin is explained in a very interesting manner. The audience is absorbed by his fears and nightmares, ultimately sympathising with the character, and further enhancing the humanity of the tale. The theme of FEAR is prevalent throughout the movie. We all have fears, and fear is one thing we cannot control. Dealing with innate fears is what creates Batman's identity, but also threatens to destroy the city he has swore to save. It is a complex approach that leads to an overall well rounded movie where all loose ends and plot-lines are superbly connected around one simple premise.
Nolan's realistic approach is note perfect. Keep in mind, it is not as grounded in the real world as say "Batman Year One", but Nolan's and Goyers addition to the story add several layers that transform a by-the-numbers story into an epic tale that takes the audience back and forth from shady Gotham to the astounding hills of Iceland (Butan in the movie). We have astounding explosions, ninjas, preechy moralising.... but it all rises above any cliche we have ever had to endure, and becomes enjoyable.
The actors are all TOP NOTCH. Christian Bale IS Batman. He was born for this role. He is both sympathetic and dangerous. His gruff Batman voice is scary, and you can see his controlled anger in his eyes. Bruce Wayne is also the best yet. He is portrayed as a stupid billionaire that gets drunk and burns down his house. This emphasises the dualisty of Bruce/Batman persona and enhaces the dynamics of his realtionship with Rachel. Michael Caine carries the emotional part of the story. He is a father and partner to Bruce. Their loving relationship is depicted perfectly and brought tears to my eyes. Alfred has a much larger and more meaninful part than in the other movies. He is just not there for comic relief, despite having many excellent one-liners. Katie Holmes is also pretty good. She does what she can with the role and makes it truly sympathetic. We cheer for them to hook up. Morgan Freeman is spectacular as always as are the other good guys supporting actors.
Now, to the bad guys. Liam Neeson is the ultimate Batman villain. He brings a level of reassunce to the role that we understand his motives despite acknowledging the horror behind them. He has a remarkable screen presence. For the first time in a Batman movie, I was terrified and angry at the villain and rooted for Batman to kick the shit out of him. Liam is such a bad ass. He IS RAS AL GHUL. Could not have been any better. I have never seen Liam bring such gravitas to any other movie he is in. Congrats to Nolan for bringing out such a strong performance from an actor we usually know what to expect of.
Ken Watanabe does what he can in MINIMAL screen time. Still, some good sword fighting here and there.
The Scarecrow, Jonathan Crane is SCARY. The Scarecrow outfit will bring nightmares to kids... Wait until hell brakes loose in Gotham and everyone starts having hallucinations. Ultimate Bad trip.
GOTHAM CITY is amazing. Not as stylized as in the Burton movies, but comes truly alive in this movie. We can feel the claustrophobia of a city run by corrupt oficials and crooked cops. It is such a mess one trule admires Bruce's will to save it. It just seems impenetrable. The action scenes are bigger and better than spiderman. Everythings seems more real and tangible. We feel it alot more.
Batmans COSTUME is also perfect. I hated it from pics, but in the movie it works just fine. We always see him in shadows. There is a large segment where Bruce builds the costume from sketch which is a delight to any geek. Even the pointed ears are explained, they come from China.
There is just so much to say about this movie I feel I have not even scratched its surface. From the portrayal of the mob, to drug dealing, gangsters, corporate misdealings... there are sooo many layers to it. So many outstanding characters. They all have a soul. But this movie belongs to Batman. And this is how it should have always been. Are you ready to begin? This is an instant classic, I really believe that in an ideal world, it should be Oscar calibre.