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Vern, Ghostboy and bunch of others take a look at BATMAN BEGINS!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here... Now, of the three main editors of the Movie News of AICN, only one hasn't seen this movie yet... Yeah, me. So, who's the one dealing with all these spoiler-ific reviews? Yeah, me... At least I was having fun running around Chicago's dastardly and evil O'Hare airport, missing connections and having good times while the Austin screening of BATMAN BEGINS was rolling... Anyway, this is all to say that I haven't seen the movie. I didn't read the script. I want there to be some surprises in the movie for me, so I haven't read any of the below reviews. I'm sure they're great, but I'm gonna be selfish on this one. If BB's as good as everyone and their mother is saying it is, I want to be as fresh as possible come next week. So, be warned. There could be tons of spoilers below.

We have a couple regulars to start off. Our main man Vern and Ghostboy. Vern is first up to bat! ZING! He also has some personal information to share with his mass of fans! Enjoy!

I got two thrilling stories for you today boys. First up is my review of this new Batman picture. Second is an unrelated, earth shattering movie scoop that you have not seen on access hollywood, E.T. - The Entertainment Tonight, the Michael Jackson trial re-enactments, or any of those shows. Possibly it was in some newspaper column in a city called Rochester, but I have not confirmed that yet. Anyway enough preamble let's get down.

STORY #1 starring Batman

You know how RAMBO 2 tried to help our nation get over Vietnam? Well this one is trying to help us get over Joel Schumacher. The idea of BATMAN BEGINS is to pretend none of that other shit ever happened and start over. And they do a good job taking a 98.9% different approach.

One thing they figured out, if you want a good comic strip type movie you gotta hire a great maniac to play the super hero. Take for example Eric Bana, who gave one of the best performances of whichever decade that was in CHOPPER. Absolutely brilliant as a lovable psychotic murderer who cuts his own ears off, so they cast him as (The [Incredible]) Hulk. Same thing with Christian Bale here, many of us are most familiar with him as a sadistic yuppie with perfect abs running around naked with a chain saw, biting women on the ass, etc. So he's perfect for Batman.

This one's pretty different from AMERICAN PSYCHO. His character (name's Bruce Wayne I believe) is another rich guy but he wants to make the world a better place and that kind of crap. Not shoot women with nail guns. But at first we don't know that, we first meet him as an american con in a hellish Chinese prison. He's a bad motherfucker we know because 1. he's probaly gonna turn out to be Batman I bet and 2. he purposely goes to Chinese prison to practice on criminals. Good stuff. (spoiler note: unfortunately we do not get to see some sort of badass escape from Chinese prison, a forgivable offense but also the first sign that this is not a perfect movie sent down from the Heavens like the internet would have you believe. Let's have realistic hopes here, fellas.)

This is a smart idea to start out weird like this because everybody, even me, knows that Bruce Wayne's parents were killed by a mugger or the Joker or Green Goblin or somebody like that, and that's why he decided to dress up as a bat and get good at climbing ropes. So it's nice to start out with something unusual before rehashing that material again. This does tell that old yarn again but what they do is they make it more in depth, more grounded in a halfway real world (not entirely real, let's not exaggerate). They make you really like Bruce's dad and get sad when he (spoiler) gets killed. And they show how and why Bruce Wayne builds the whole Batman operation from the ground up: how he learned to fight, how he got a cool cave, where his equipment comes from, how he avoids arousing suspicion when ordering strange items from overseas, who helps him cover his tracks, even why he has those little spikes on his gloves. And why he decides hey, you know what would be cool, I should go with a bat motif.

Like in the other movies, Batman wears an asinine armored scuba outfit with point ears, but they use a couple good tricks to make it forgivable. Number one, they don't show it as often. There's one part where he's in silhouette and he looks really cool. It's kind of like remember that movie ALI, I thought Will Smith really looked alot like Mohammed Ali when you either squinted enough or when they showed him from the back. This is the same way, he almost looks cool when they're not showing him.

Number two, they show him building the suit, so you can understand why it looks so stupid. Just the body part alone cost $300,000 dollars. What's he gonna do, start over because it doesn't make him look cool? Bruce Wayne isn't that petty. If they're real friends they'll judge him on who he is, not on his clothes. And think about this Batman, you look EXTREMELY fucking cool compared to Daredevil. (That little pep talk works on all super hero movies except Daredevil.)

And the third trick about the costume is, alot of the movie isn't about wearing the costume, it's about leading up to the costume. Travelling around the world training, fighting crime without a costume, pretending to be a drunk playboy. They make Bruce Wayne into more of a character, more of a methodical guy instead of just the weirdo who stares out the window and/or makes speeches about duality.

Not that there aren't speeches. I liked how much the movie focused on story and character instead of the usual "comic book movie" stuff, but there's a section there where it gets a little bogged down by too much dialogue of characters exchanging their views about justice. I wanted to say, "Hey, David S. Goyer who wrote this script, you know one of the reasons your character Blade is so cool? Because he knows when to shut the fuck up, which is most of the time." David S. Goyer wasn't there though and anyway before I got a chance to say it the movie really kicked in.

One thing I liked is how much they try to make it seem real. They shoot it more like a crime drama, not some gothic fairy tale. And most of the gadgets seem like semi-plausible experimental military type technology. Even the grappling hooks he uses they make seem sort of real, because they sound like equipment you kids use for your rock climbing or Road Rules. Also Gotham seems like a real city some of the time. Later on though, especially when the action gets big and out of control, they end up with some of the cheesy soundstage feel. Also the crime ridden areas of Gotham remind you of those '80s New-York-is-hell movies like THE WARRIORS or CHAINS or a couple of the Michael Jackson videos. At least they don't have dudes with mowhawks pulling switchblades on people.

The cast is great, especially Bale (SHAFT), Liam Neeson (DARKMAN) and Michael Caine (ON DEADLY GROUND). Katie Holmes is pretty good except she can't pull off a couple chunks of exposition they gave her and they made her lecture Bruce Wayne enough that you wonder why he bothers with her. Nothing too bad though. As for the villains, the emphasis is much more on Batman getting things in place than on villains, but they're good ones without much of a trace of that histrionic post-Jack-Nicholson-as-the-Joker comic book movie villainy we've seen from Tommy Lee Jones in that one movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger in that other movie, Colin Farrel in a different movie where his super power is flicking deadly peanuts and paper clips at people, or the other guys like that in the other movies.

A warning for action movie fans though: the action is this movie's one major weakness. Its KRYPTONITE if you will. (little comic book reference for you guys, I bet some of you hardcores will get that one. [if not it's from superman I believe, don't quote me on that it might be spiderman but I think superman though]). In a movie that pretty much starts out with a dude going up to Shaolin Temple and asking to be trained, you want to see some good fights. To be fair, I just watched 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER so my standards are temporarily high. But most of the action here is shot in a very Bruckheimery/GLADIATOR style where the camera is too close and shaky for anybody to really have any idea what is going on, except that it involves Batman in some way I believe, and possibly that guy who he is fighting. This is frustrating because Goyer definitely sets up what could've been some great fights, including more than one where our guy has to take on multiple ninjas with swords.

Hint to Christopher Nolan: in a ninja fight, there should be some shots that show their arms and legs. So you can see what they are doing. In my opinion. I'll send you some ninja movies if you don't understand what I'm talking about. Like I always say, think Bruce Lee in ENTER THE DRAGON, not John Saxon.

Honestly though, unlike hugely popular best picture winner that I didn't like GLADIATOR, the badly shot action scenes didn't ruin the movie for me. Because I really liked the story and characters, and never was waiting for another fight. I was thinking you know, I'm really enjoying this movie, I'm surprised how seriously it's treating the story, how it expects you to care about character drama instead of guys in colorful costumes climbing around on giant statues and crap like that. Which means of course that most people will hate it and say it's boring, like (The [Incredible]) Hulk. That's what I was guessing but when the movie ended there was a huge, enthusiastic applause and people walking out with big smiles like they'd been smoking weed all day, which they hadn't, because they were waiting in line for this screening. I'm not a psychic as far as I know, I have never touched an object associated with a crime and gotten visions to help solve the mystery. But my impression was that this was an honest to Christ applause, they really were excited about this movie. As far as I saw Batman was not in the audience so they weren't just being polite. So hopefully alot of you will like it.

If not, there's always life.

STORY #2 starring me

Okay, so BATMAN BEGINS was story #1 today, story #2 has no connection or similarity to story #1 at all except that it also concerns a Great American Icon. In this case, me. I don't want to sound like I'm full of hot air, I know most of you won't give a rat's tail end about this, but for anybody that does it's time to go public with the information that some young Hollywood hipster from Canada is trying to make a movie out of my web sight, life's journey, etc. The script writer is named Skander Halim, and when he first approached me for this "option" business a couple years ago he told me he was a story editor for a TV show but "don't watch it, it's about a farting alien." I felt sorry for the kid so I played along. I got ten bucks and a pack of Newports so it was a pretty good deal. Also his people sent me a script of his called PRETTY PERSUASION. Pretty good script I thought although yes, Skander, I saw HEATHERS too. Let's move on with our lives now.

I'm still sure a movie about me is only a little more likely to happen than CATWOMAN RELOADED. But the twist I never saw coming is that his PRETTY PERVERSION script was turned into an actual movie, and a genuinely good one in my opinion. I saw it at the Seattle International type Film Festival last week. I'm not gonna review it obviously because I have a commitment to excellence so I watch out for the ol' conflicts of interest there. But this sleazy and perverted, er I mean bold and uncompromising black comedy actually turned out great. It has a few elements I seen in WILD THINGS and yes, HEATHERS but it puts them together in a really smart, original and confident way. I laughed alot and only squirmed when I was supposed to. Like the part where James Woods gets caught jerkin off on the couch. Seeing triumphant scenes like this on the screen I realized it was a whole lot smarter than I caught on when I read the thing. I'm slow I guess.

My solemn vow not to review the movie almost seemed unneccessary because watching it I knew I genuinely liked it, not in a "that's pretty good for some guy who actually reads my crappy web sight" kind of way. In my opinion. So if you can confirm that it is good from some objective third party or parties, please fly to New York or LA on August 12th to enjoy it in its limited release before it spreads like wildfire and becomes this generation's DIE HARD. Or at least SPEED. Sorry there is no nudity but there is some cunnilingus so Harry will like it.

The movie Mr. Halim wrote about me is of course called VERN TELL'S IT LIKE IT IS and it is sort of a phoney baloney hollywood version of how I came to be and the great impact I had on the world through reviewing films on my TV show. (Don't ask me, I didn't write it.) He told me it was like a hard-R version of Pee Wee's Baadasssss Song or whatever that first Pee Wee Herman picture was called. To be frankly honest it is not the sort of gritty and philosophical masterpiece that I would have written if I for some reason wanted to make a movie about myself. But I didn't and his script made me laugh so I hope they will make it and share my laughter with the world. Also because I would get paid.

According to some rag called the Hollywood Reporter, Halim is about to direct a ghost movie he wrote. But if he is an honorable man of his word like you or I, he's also working hard trying to get the story of yours truly into the right hands. Personally I think it's his life long dream project, like GANGS OF NEW YORK, only with more prison, uh, scuffles. (I should mention by the way there are many unpleasant incidents in this script that are 100% fabrications. I don't do shit like that anymore don't believe the hype people.) It's alot of lewd humor but also satire about internet film critics, high vs. low culture, and who knows what else, I only read it once. But I remember there was alot of stuff in there for people who really love the films of Cinema. Remember when you first started posting about how much such and such movie sucked, you did it because you mostly LOVED movies. That's who this movie is for in my opinion, the old you. Also for ladies.

My role in the movie is to write lots of harsh notes to Halim which he will probaly ignore. I am trying to get him to change the title to BOILED HARD which promises all the action of HARD BOILED but with all the explosions of DIE HARD. Even if he doesn't listen to me though I got some of me in there because the script faithfully adapts some stories from my columns and quotes some of my reviews. The other horse shit in there hopefully I'll clear up in the novelization.

I'm hoping this will be the first movie in Hollywood history adapted from a geocities web sight. Then maybe those fucks'll give me some more data transfer without making me pay $4.95 a month or whatever. And before you say anything, yes, Hulk Hogan should play Vern. Actually Roddy Piper would be better in my opinion. I sent this guy a list that started with Nick Nolte and ended with DMX. I'm just praying I don't get Leslie Nielsen.

Anyway sorry for the self indulgence, but now it is off my chest and I am a free man. I don't have enough money to fight crime though so don't give me any shit about what I do with my life. I'm talking to you, Katie Holmes.

thanks friends,

--Vern, data transfer exceeded, soon to be a major motion picture

Next up is Ghostboy!

Howdy folks,

I don't know if you care to read another review for Batman Begins - I mean, you all know you're going to see it - but nonetheless I figured I'd take a break from writing reviews of tiny little indie films and interviews with their directors and tackle a good old summer blockbuster.

A few spoilers are contained within; and since I'm of the school of film criticism that suggests that reviews are best read after you've seen the film, I've tried to write something that will still be worth glancing through after you get back from theater next week. But I digress - here's my 1500 word opinion.


Super-hero stories are praised when they are dark, loved when their characters are troubled, lauded when those characters are sometimes allowed to die. We demand the infringement of reality on these fantasies, because without a recognizable and relatable context, the concept of a super-hero itself is pointless. It's a bit easier to pull off in comic books, where the form allows for a higher suspension of disbelief; when those books are adapted to film, a great deal of care must be taken in making what is essentially a very silly concept not only believable but deadly serious on a dramatic level. One way this can be done is to elevate (or perhaps deconstruct) the heroes to primal archetypes, the story to the realm of myth; another method, and the one that is inevitably more popular and thus far more successful, is to focus on the heroes, deconstructing them again but this time in an attempt to make plain their psychoses, their nervous tics; to make them look more like the rest of us.

It is for this reason that the best recent comic book films - Bryan Singer's X-Men pictures, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films, even Ang Lee's faulty but fascinating Hulk - have been helmed by directors whose interest in action and explosions is merely incidental to the material. They've brought the necessary sense of consequence to their adaptations, and in the case of the latter X-Men and Spider-Man films, made some truly great and pieces of entertainment, equally thrilling and thoughtful. Compare these to Daredevil or the upcoming Fantastic Four, and consider what a difference a filmmaker makes.

Almost paradoxically, an equal respect for the history of the characters is also demanded of these filmmakers; they need to be living, breathing people who also happen to live up to their status as pop culture icons; while Spider-Man needs to be taken seriously, he also needs to be a lot of fun. The best adaptors know that while certain changes need to be made to fit their medium, fifty or sixty years of development goes a long way towards establishing a recognized tone. Again, Singer and Raimi, by their second films in their respective series, mastered the fine art of pleasing the fanboy alongside the film critic, not to mention the less discriminating audiences that lie between those two extremes.

So now director Christopher Nolan, famed for his indie crime mysteries Following and Memento, does his best to follow suit on both levels with this reinvention of Batman - who, alongside Spider-Man and Superman fulfills the troika of the most renowned super-heroes. This most tortured of heroes was certainly in need of some newfound gravitas. Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film created the franchise, and was an excellent bit of comic book fantasy that benefited from Burton's inimitable vision and personal neuroses; but his sequel, Batman Returns, although technically a far better film, was far more a gothic fairy tale than a Batman story. And then when Burton left the series...well, if you don't know what happened next, you're probably better off.

In Batman Begins, all gothic elements have been rescinded. Gotham City is not a twisted mass of German Expressionism but a vaguely futuristic metropolis that suggest a Manhattan whose burroughs have extended well past the Hudson River. It's quickly painted as a city rife with organized crime and corruption of the corporate and political sort, with clearly defined social lines. It's an environment that, in short, seems mostly real, one in which a man dressed as a giant bat wouldn't necessarily fit in with the architecture. This cuts down on just about every opportunity for grandiose posing, which, considering the film's intentions, is mostly a good thing.

Nolan's aim here is to remove all traces of the super from the super-hero; his Batman is simply vigilante with a scary suit. And his film is at it's best when it's not about that vigilante at all, but about the steps the young Bruce Wayne took prior to donning that famous cowl. Nolan and screenwriter David S. Goyer use the first half the movie to follow Bruce Wayne through the gray area unexplored by the prior movies and the majority of comics, between the point when the young heir saw his parents gunned down in an alley and the advent of the Dark Knight's first prowl. Much of the movie is based on Frank Miller's landmark graphic novel 'Batman: Year One,' but even there Miller merely alluded to twelve sketchy years Wayne spent abroad, ostensibly gaining the skills he'd put to use on the criminals of Gotham City.

So here we first find a bearded, muddy Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in a Japanese prison, suffering from nightmares and attacks by fellow inmates. His presence there is explained in flashbacks, prior to his exoneration at the hands of a mysterious Englishman named Ducard (Liam Neeson) who knows Wayne's history and wants to help him utilize his anger and fear. He works for a mysterious organization headed by a man named Ras Al Ghul, and he promises Bruce that he'll give him training that will allow him to make a difference in the world.

Ras Al Ghul was, I believe, a Middle Eastern wizard in the comic books, but here he is a Japanese overlord, played in what is little more than a cameo by Ken Wantanabe of The Last Samurai. He and Ducard preside over a legion of vigilante ninja warriors. Given what's physically required of Wayne once he assumes his alter ago, it makes sense that he'd have ninja training; the whole secret organization aspect seems to have more specifics than necessary, but soon enough Ghul is dead and Wayne has returned to his manor and faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine) in Gotham City, ready to put his new skills to use. The film really hits its stride as he develops his new persona (from his own fears) and acquires his equipment (from his father's company's failed military division). An extension of the Alfred character is the one played by Morgan Freeman, an employee of Wayne Corporation (itself headed by Rutger Hauer - Nolan's assembled himself quite a cast) who helps Bruce build his armoir, and Nolan even goes so far as to explain how Wayne manages to have his batsuits manufactured without attracting suspicion. The practicalty of costumed vigilante-ism is, it turns out, the subject for a lot of logical humor.

Prior to working on this film, Nolan was developing a biopic of Howard Hughes that was eventually overtaken by Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. Essentially, he's jumped from analyzing the state of mind of one eccentric billionaire to another, and he and Goyer have done careful work developing the character of Bruce Wayne; they don't take him for granted, and they're careful to provide honest for his grief and fear and hate, and the extreme choices they catalyze. Christian Bale delivers a finely graduated performance; while I still prefer Michael Keaton in the suit, Bale's Bruce Wayne is, for the first time in any of the films, an actual human being.

The result of all this is that, by the time Batman first appears in costume, the movie is halfway over; and even then, he doesn't really appear, but darts around in the shadows, taking down organized crime bosses and corrupt cops, and building a working relationhship with the not-yet-Commisioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman, who in a rare non-villainous role, very nearly steals the film). This is all mostly terrific, and it strongly harkens back not only to Miller's origin story but to the title of the very first magazine the character ever appeared in: Detective Comics. But then a weapon of mass destruction turns up missing, and various overwrought plot devices start turning, and finally, far too late to carry any weight in the plot, Ras Al Ghul shows up again, and we remember that, oh yes, this is based on a comic book.

It's a bit of a disappointment that the movie falls prey to weak villain syndrome and that it ends in a climax that seems stolen from a different, lesser form of entertainment. Nolan and Goyer do such a good job up to that point charting the growth of Batman, and developing the city of Gotham itself as his adversary, that an evil figurehead is entirely unnecessary. What was at first wonderfully subtle eventually becomes rather underwhelming. On the other hand, this is the first movie of a resurrected franchise, and we can take solace in past examples - Singer's films, and Raimi's - and assume that Nolan, having established the character and the city so fully, will be able to give them both an adversary very much their equal. If Nolan looks to Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel 'The Killing Joke' as much as he did to Miller's 'Year One,' then one can expect in the next Batman film a rather disturbing portrait of criminal insanity - with, of course, a few explosions to balance out the psychology. In the meantime, the coming year will bring with it a long awaited version of Superman, helmed by Singer; and with it will come discussions of the ramifications of immortality, the struggle for normality, pop iconography, good and evil dichotomy, and all the other issues one might realistically expect when dealing with an invincible alien in red and blue tights.

And with that, I'm outta here.


Here's the next one!

I don't want to say anthing that majorly spoils BATMAN BEGINS, and I definately don't want to be the broken record that writes what everyone else has already said. Last night I saw the press screening of BATMAN BEGINS here in Salt Lake City. Here are my thoughts.

#1- BATMAN BEGINS is not only a great BATMAN movie, it is a great MOVIE! You do not have to attach the word BATMAN to the phrase "It is a great movie." The movie speaks for itself. Not for Batman.

#2- This is a Christopher Nolan movie. Not a David Goyer movie. This entails that the film will take you on a journey through someone's mind and psyche. It will have dark moments and it will have human emotion. A David Goyer film entails action sequences wrapped around a weak-ass storyline. Take for example Blade Trinity. Was it fun? Definately! (Mostly due to Ryan Reynolds). Was there a good story? HELL NO!!! There wasn't a story at all. It's obvious that Goyer wrote a serious of cool action sequences and tied it all together with a half-torn shoelace. Chris Nolan must've taken the rough story of BATMAN BEGINS from Goyer, added detail, and then made it his own. I alsolutely love the story to BATMAN BEGINS.

#3- Whoever it was that did the sound deserves a high five for this one! One review I read said that the Batmobile sound was great. I'd agree, but I thought that other aspects outweighed that factor. *VERY MINOR SPOILER* The sound of the gunshots when the Waynes are murdered- chilling! I'm not kidding! That hit me! Not to mention the parts with Scarecrow. I don't even need to get into those scenes! For those who've seen it- you know what I mean. If you have yet to see it- you'll see what I mean. *END SPOILER* The sound, as well as the superb score, created a tense dramatic reality for me. Hats off to those folks.

#4- How the hell did they get all those actors?! I couldn't have imagined a better cast. Each and every one of them did SUCH a good job with their part. You end up connecting with each and everyone of them by the end. Which ties into...

#5- Talk about character development. Instead of having sissy character prancing around with cheasy music in the background, you meet real people in BATMAN BEGINS. Not a single character comes across as one that you've would've found in the previous train wreck we know as the original films. These character are tangable.

EVERYONE LISTEN!!! Batman has been resurrected! He is alive and glorious! Brace yourselves for a ride that moves so fast you'll want to do it over again immediately after finishing. You will be left saying what I'm saying now, "I want more!"


And the next... and in the brief skimming I did when coding it is loaded with spoilers... my eyes hurt...

Hey Harry

Long time reader first time reviewer. Yesterday on June 7th I got the best birthday news I could have ever asked for. At about 1pm I get a call from my buddy who does promotions for a popular urban chic Brooklyn magazine. He told me he had a surprise for me. All he told me was to show up at our local AMC River east multiplex in Chicago. When I get there he hands me a blue Warner Bros. ticket. On the other side it said ADMIT 2 for BATMAN BEGINS SCREENING!!!!!! I was so overwhelmed with joy I almost shed a tear-honestly. Warners “police” were out pretty hardcore. We were searched by metal detectors before entering the theater, my buddy had a digital camera and they took his batteries out and threw them away! When we were finally allowed to enter the theater, I was surprised to see the theater was only _ full. After we all received free copies of Us weekly and Sprite remixes the Warners people finally started the flick.

So here goes my Batman Begins Spoiler heavy review. (Please use this Harry! I am 22 as of yesterday and this is the review I have been waiting to write for 8 years!)

I will say that this movie will rock you, BUT it dose have some kind of VERY annoying FLAWS. Namely the action scenes and the Batmobile scenes.

The flick starts. Lots of fucking bats, we get the new Batman logo and I am on the edge of my seat. We get shots of a young Bruce Wayne chasing a young Rachel through the woods by Wayne Manor. Something about an arrow head, Bruce falls through a hole in the ground plummeting through to the future bat-cave, Thomas Wayne lowers himself down and we get an EXCELLENT close-up shot of an iconic Batman shot of Thomas grabbing Bruces arm and holstering him up in true batman fashion. Flash to the present and we have Bruce Wayne in some sort of prison. He is haggard looking. Inmates start some type of shit with him and he gets into it with about 6 inmates, but Bruce fucks them all up.

Now this is the scene that kind of had me worried. The first fight scene was so frantic and cut so choppy that it looked like Bruce was moving around kind of like with an invisible hoola hoop and the guys around him were just falling down SWEAR TO GOD!

SOOOO Bruce gets thrown in some type of confinment were he meets Ducard. Ducard tells Wayne that he can help train him to fight evil. He tells him to grab a flower of some sort and meet him at the top of this mountain. Bruce arrives and is introduced to a false Ra Al (note- I won’t totally spoil all of this)

During his training we get a flash back of Wayne’s Parents death. Before the Opera Thomas Wayne shows Bruce the infamous pearl necklace he plans to give Mrs. Wayne as a present. At the Opera house Bruce gets frightened of the bats being portrayed in the play, due to his earlier accident. He tells his parents he is ready to go and they exit out the back. A crack head Joe Chill Runs up and shoots his parents….GRIPE!!!!!- this scene could have been 200 times better. Especially with the foreshadowing of the pearl necklace. Wayne drops his wallet, chill gets pissed and shoots Martha and a Thomas point blank, very brief, no over dramatic pearls dropping in blood, all slow-mo like I was dying to see, not the uber violent slaying that would drive a man so crazy he would later dress as a bat and fight criminals. FUCK!

At the police station we see Deputy Gordon!

We get introduced to Jonathan Crane who is getting criminals off by multiple reasons of insanity

I am going to just sum a lot of this up. Wayne is a young man and he returns to Gotham after leaving Princeton, to go to the Joe Chill early release trial. Bruce plans to kill him at the trial but is beat to it by Falcones Mob cronies, who kill him to keep him quiet. Wayne goes to visit Falcone and is beat up an taunted about his dead parents. Wayne leaves and that explains how he is in Butan.

Now Bruce is trained by the Shadow leagues to hunt evil. GRIPE!!!!! So Ducard AL GHOUL (that will make more since later) says when a civilization has reached its evil peek we go in and destroy evil, Africa etc. etc. ….Gotham. –WTF?! Out of all the fucked up place like Iraq and Afghanistan, how do you go from Africa to Gotham? So Bruce gets trained, in some excellent training scenes. And needs to kill a murderer in a final test. Bruce all flips out and fights the shadow league and burns there house down.

Wayne returns to Gotham and is back to fight some Crime!! Wayne returns and is in perfect Billionaire Playboy fashion. Swanky parties, getting drunk, getting laid, smacking bitches etc. (Bale is the best Bruce Wayne by far)

Wayne starts to meet Lucy’s Fox who hooks him up with a $300,000 armor suit. Wayne goes out an fights crime with the suit, gets his ass handed to him.

He returns to Fox who gives him Kevlar cape and Tumbler.

Batman captures Falcone in some of the most indistinguishable fight scenes I have ever seen.

Batman has a Batmobile that only goes on lower Wacker here in Chicago- GRIPE!!!!!!! The Batmobile is awesome BUT the theater that we saw this movie in is 1 block from lower Wacker. That is were they filmed a majority of the Batmobile scenes. So why the fuck did they basically loop the fucking Batmobile footage over and expect nobody here in Chicago- a big target market not notice?

Anyway Batman encounters Scarecrow who sprays bats with some fear gas and sets his ass on fire. Batman’s Second encounter with scarecrow has batman turning the table on him and spraying him with the gas for a truly awesome looking scene!

Ducard AL GOUHL shows up at a dinner party for Bruce and burns his house down, but it appears that Wayne just got drunk and did it himself. Enter Alfred to save the day. He carries Wayne to the cave were he hops in the Batmobile and cruises Lower Wacker AGAIN!!!!

So all the ARKHAM inmates are released and Scarecrow can Join AL GOUHL in pursuing there plot in releasing fear gas in the Gothams water supply with a stolen Wayne ENT. Weapon.

So they release the gas everyone starts freaking out. Batman beats up D.A.G. Rachel beats up the Scarecrow? And Batman Saves the Day. But now LT. Gordon tells batman that there is a Bunch of Arkham inmates out and that there is one going by the name of Joker!

There are a lot of things I left out but this is the majority of the movie. If you are watching all the TV spots and trailers online, Stop! The majority of the film is in all of these spots! I think the fear gas scenes could have been a lot better and more gothic and chilling. The fight scenes were almost unwatchable, and the Batmobile was limited to 1 hour of footage that was edited into 2 10 min clips.

This movie still is awesome the story outshines the action. Also Nolan is a good director but He can’t shoot action! STUDIOS DO NOT GET NON ACTION DIRECTORS TO SHOOT ACTION MOVIES, OR AT LEAST HAVE A GOOD 1ST A.D. THAT KNOWS HOW!!!!!!!!!! But I mean it is still a hell of a good time. I will be seeing this again on the 15. The reality factor is awesome too. You will love this movie, as long as you don’t care about not seeing direct action. But c’mon 150 million dollars and you can’t use 1 fucking crane!

I post as IPOLO but Call me Cyrus “IPOLO G.”

Now for the second to last...

I had the chance to catch a Batman Begins preview screening tonight, and I had to send in my $.02. I'm sure you're getting alot of these right about now, but here's my take.

I grew up on Batman. "A Death In The Family" was my first real exposure to comic books outside of the SuperFriends, and I don't think there could be a more dramatic juxtaposition in tone than the two. For years afterwards I'd get my one issue every month in the mail, and as a kid without disposable income that day was looked forward to for weeks. I'd read through each issue two, three, four times... Enough about that - I'm a huge fan.

When I heard that Christopher Nolan was slated to direct the latest incarnation of the Dark Knight, I was pretty ecstatic. I loved Memento, and even really enjoyed Insomnia. It was just a different picture - sadly too many, it wasn't Memento with Pacino in the Guy Pearce role. But there was this visual intensity that really drove what I feel is still an underrated film. So - who better to strip all of the neon and pop music soundtracks of the Burton/Schumacher attempts than a guy with inventive structure, pacing and visuals? What Bats needed was a much more understated, subtle presentation. And Nolan could bring that.

I was wrong.

This film is the sweeping superhero epic that I frankly did not expect from Nolan, especially his first time out. And I loved it. It's dark, heavy and moves at a breakneck pace. And they crammed a lot in. The origin part just flies by, but it's paced well and tied into the rest of the film beautifully. Bale's characterization of Wayne is heavy enough though to allow us to feel the gravity and the motivation of the character without spending a whole two hours there alone in the origin. And when he returns to Gotham, the facets of the Bruce Wayne persona are used very deftly as he slides from Dark Knight, to angry brooding, to prick billionaire playboy that provides enough fodder for the gossip pages, but without overplaying it straight into camp. And that's the thing - this movie is the epic that Daredevil didn't have the balls to be. I really enjoyed that film, but it wasn't big enough. Nolan is all balls, and not afraid to fail. Gotham is an epic, believable environment - but it breathes.

Oldman as Gordon is great - the antagonistic side of their relationship is there, the uneasy friendship. But the respect between the two of them is earned, and believable. Both are young, and green - but provide the flames to light the hope so missing in Gotham. Morgan Freeman, despite any rumors to the contrary looks like he's having a ball. And as usual, he's a joy to watch. Michael Caine grew on me...whatever you think of the previous incarnations, Michael Gough was amazing in the role for me - he was Alfred. But Caine worked for it, until boom, he'd earned the mantle rightfully.

Katie Holmes has little to do here, not so much her own fault, but she's forgettable. That was one mistep, as well as the suit. With all of the inherent suspension of disbelief, why it seems silly for Bats to wear some sort of micro-fiber/kevlar/i-dont-know-what FABRIC, is beyond me. But by the end of the film, you'll forget. You're having too much fun.

For all it's successes and failures, it's a work in progress. We're set up with two of the lesser known A-list rogues, to prepare for the more iconic baddies who will raise the bar for the hero. And this is how it should be done - we're going to watch Wayne grow into his role as Gotham's protector. Throughout the film I felt that I couldn't imagine Supes showing up - they're just not on the same level at this point. But by the time Clark and Bruce meet (in the proposed Superman/Batman sequel) he will be formidable enough to stop the Blue Boy Scout in his tracks. So I assume, so I hope.

But the key is, the future is bright. And I couldn't be happier to be along for the ride.

If you guys use this, call me Nytesabre. 'Night.

Now for the last one...

Hey Harry,

Call me El Underlingo. (I had to settle for el_underlingo since the_underling was taken as an email address.)

I work at a major Hollywood studio, and I'm less of an underling than I used to be. In fact, I can count exactly three people I could fire right now -- one of whom knows he's pretty fucking close, or better know. Anyway.

I'm writing because I've seen Batman Begins. I also got to meet Christopher Nolan, which was pretty fucking cool, y'know, even if he'll never remember me. (Didn't meet him at the screening, though, which would've been extra cool.) I actually saw it a little bit ago, but I was spurred to writing by the mediocre reviews it's gotten in Variety, Time, and a couple other places.

Here's the thing:

Batman Begins is a GREAT MOVIE. It is the BEST Batman movie yet. If people are worried that Christopher Nolan might've somehow fucked it up, Christopher Nolan did not in any way remotely come close to fucking it up. (Yeah, I know you already did a review, but I have a reaction which is somewhat more tempered but, in its own way, equally enthusiastic. I'm just an understated underling, I guess.)

Now. That said, I'll say this (with a minimum of spoilers):

It's not a perfect movie. I do pretty much agree with a lot of what you said in your review, but I think there are conceivably fanboys out there who are gonna criticize it for whatever shortcomings they perceive. They may not spend hours thinking of new descriptions for AICN of how many glorious gallons of whatever sticky emission shot out of whatever joyful hole in their nether-regions in celebration of its Bat-perfectness.

But it's a damned good movie.

Granted, parts of it are a bit familiar feeling, or even worn (although worn is a stretch). The origin story is about half-familiar/half-interesting. I don't think you CAN make a character like Liam Neeson's fresh and new, but this picture...well, it doesn't, either. But he's certainly watchable enough, and Nolan handles things with enough panache that it's never boring or THAT familiar. Just, don't expect to be blown away by every frame/scene/whatever being something you've never seen before. Maybe you know what I mean, maybe you don't.

Neeson is good, though, as is the whole cast from Christian Bale on down. It's not like this is anybody's best work but they're way better and more interesting than you'd expect or fear in a summer superhero movie.

I've also read things about this being a "realistic" Batman. Okay. There is no way there is anything "realistic" about this Batman. The stunts, the toys, the vehicles -- nothing realistic about them. What it is, is somehow more GROUNDED than the other Batmans, particularly as they went on. The "realism" is about on par with the first half of the first Batman, don't you think?

Anyway, that's it. It's a great movie. Not perfect, but great, and I really don't expect to see another "summer blockbuster" that's anywhere as good, not this year.

And hey, if you use this or anything I send you and you happen to notice me let anything slip that could give away which studio or whatever, couldja delete it? I want to keep this job for a while yet in the vain hope that they might start paying me more. Meeting Chris Nolan is cool but it doesn't pay the rent.

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