Ken Watanabe serves as the bridge between The Last Samurai and Batman Begins. Out of all the cast connections I could have made to eventually get to Batman Begins, would you have ever expect that one? I enjoy being as unusual as possible. The unexpected twists are always the best ones.
Before I get into the review, let me tell you what this movie means to comic book fans in general. It is debatable whether Batman Begins has lost its lofty perch I the last five years with comic book based movies rapidly increasing in quality, but for a time there, it was the greatest comic book movie of all time. Fans considered it a godsend because we could finally stop pretending Tim Burton ad made the quintessential super hero film with 1989’s Batman and hand the honor rightfully over to Christopher Nolan. Because he is a geek like us who understands what comics are all about.
Nolan takes the Neal Adams Batman--take my word for it, non-comics geeks--and puts him on screen proper for the first time ever. He is dark, brooding, and far more Batman than Bruce Wayne, just like he is in the comics. Nolan rounds out the film with a stellar cast, including Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Rutger Hauer. That illustrious group could make ay film shine, much less one based on a comic book character.
What I really liked were the layers. There are characters and situations introduced in the film that have special meaning only if you are familiar with the comics, yet not knowing all the details does not detract from the general audiences’ enjoyment. Secret geek code, if you will.
The Scarecrow is not a particularly prominent villain in the comics. It was a risk to make him the main villain, but it works splendidly.
As does pretty much everything. The acting, the story, the production design--it is all good. I am even willing to forgive changes made in the costume and vehicles--no small feat for a loyal comic book geek--because it all gels. Batman Begins isa classic in the comic book to film genre.
Rating: **** (out of 5)