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Batman Begins (Blu-ray Review)

1 Aug, 2008 By: John Latchem

Box Office $206.85 million
$28.98 DVD, $30.97 two-DVD set, $34.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense action violence, disturbing images and some thematic elements.
Stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe, Morgan Freeman, Linus Roache.

Batman Begins was the perfect film to reinvigorate the “Batman” film franchise following the campy misadventures of 1997’s Batman and Robin, which effectively put an end to the series that had begun with Tim Burton’s 1989 film.

Likewise, Christopher Nolan, taking on just his fourth feature film, was the perfect choice of director to deliver a quintessential Batman story. The announcement that Nolan, a relative unknown at the time, would be the one at the helm for the long-awaited reboot may have come as a surprise to some, but those of us familiar with his work on Memento or Insomnia had complete faith in his ability to pull it off, and we were not disappointed.

The film is brilliantly structured to serve two purposes. One the one hand, if successful and well received, it provides an origin story for Batman that could become the jumping off point for a further series of films (which we got with The Dark Knight). On the other hand, if Warner decided the film hadn’t performed well enough for a sequel, it could have sidelined Batman for a while, leaving the film feeling something like a prequel to the stories of the Burton era, complementing them by using villains that hadn’t been used on film before.

The film features its share of plot twists and surprises, playing with the expectations the audience might carry into the film from any knowledge of the source material about who these characters are supposed to be. Plus, we are given, in great detail, some actual practical explanations for a lot of the tech that Batman deploys.

The primary theme of the film is fear, making Scarecrow the ideal choice of bad guy as he attempts to infuse the Gotham City water supply with his fear toxin. But the notion of fear plays throughout several storylines — from Bruce’s fear of the future in the wake of his parents’ deaths, as he seeks out a purpose to avenge them; to the fear he strikes in criminals by taking up the mantle of Batman.

The likely debate among Batman fans is whether this or The Dark Knight is the best Batman film of all time, and while most might side with the latter, anyone who picks Begins isn’t making a bad choice at all, as both rank among the greatest superhero films of all time. It just goes to show how well served the character was by Nolan.

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