I was lucky enough to go and see the Batman Begins premiere at the IMAX last week. Unlike regular cinema screens, this one is more than 20 metres high and 26 metres wide, and normally shows specifically made 3D features shot on huge rolls of film. The thought of this much more immersed viewing environment was an exciting curiosity, and I couldn’t wait to see how it would effect my enjoyment of the film.
After the brief introduction by the staff and a taster of the normal viewing fayre they offer (complete with Elton-esque 3D specs), the trailers and previews were over.
The lights dimmed and we sat in the dark.
And Batman Began.
As I sat in my chair, watching the credits scroll up the huge screen, surrounded by hundreds of people applauding unashamedly, I came to the conclusion that this was the first real Batman film.
I am no Batman fanboy. A die hard Marvel supporter, wearing my geeky knowledge of the X-universe on my sleeve (and even a tattoo on my chest), I assure you that this review is pretty unbiased. Would I lie to you baby? Would I lie to you?
This is the film that fans have always wanted and makes the previous installments, even the previously untouchable gothic fragility of Tim Burton pale in comparison. It adds the one thing that all the films before this have lacked: A story about Batman. The Joker, the Riddler, Poison Ivy, Catwoman et al, all were the real stars, not the man himself. Baddies Ra’s Al Ghul and The Scarecrow had their parts and both played them well (the former with a gently psychotic charm, the other swaying towards a more ‘go bonkers kill everything’ attitude), but finally a wonderful tale is woven out of Bruce Wayne’s past. It is not disturbing or psychotic (as Bale himself reportedly said he was edging the character towards), but noble, with a backbone of sense and purpose.
Directed by Christopher Nolan from a script by David Goyer and Charles Roven, Batman Begins features Christian Bale in the lead role as Batman and his billionaire alter persona, Bruce Wayne. Bale does a superb job in his role, hardened yet human, with a dry sense of humour and humility that would result from being raised by the excellently used Michael Caine as Alfred. It’s hard to believe after seeing him so emaciated in The Machinist that he could transform his body in the way he has. Morgan Freeman managed not to bore me for the first time in ages and I was left with a much higher opinion of Katie Holmes than I had before. Although as my cousin quite rightly pointed out: “Christ can she do nothing but whine? Cheer up!” Finally Gary Oldman played the lovable James Gordon, pre commissioner days, and showed how the first stages of the strong partnership he and Batman would come to share very in the future started with just the right amount of trust and suspicion.
Gotham itself was beautiful. The dizzying skyscrapers were in an underplayed and entirely unobtrusive deco style, the slums were detailed and believable and miraculously, Gotham does get sunshine! The gadgets, the batmobile (!), there’s just too much to take in. It’s all there and it’s a batfan’s wet dream. It’s anyone’s. Even if you didn’t know anything about the story, the ability of this film to stand alone and tell a well-crafted story is a nice testament to the director’s ability.
Christopher Nolan’s ability shines on Batman Begins, and from a director who has no previous experience of the action genre, he manages to create frantic but coherent fights that illustrate the abilities of Batman without seeming nonsensical. He has taken command of the franchise and raised the bar for comic-based films, making the likes of Elektra creep away with well deserved egg on its face. Only just, mind you. I can understand that some people would find them too much to take in, and it did remind me a little of the Bourne Supremacy, which had such over-edited fight scenes that it was almost unwatchable and made me feel a little motion sick.
As with most comic book films, and most comics for that matter, there are some glaring plotholes which plenty of nerdshoes are getting there panties in a bunch about on their blogs and suchlike, but who gives a shit right? If you go and see a fantasy film, afford it the benefit of the doubt in some areas and remember artistic license is often a blessing to stop the brain working too hard to kill all the fun. Calm down you nerds or I will bully you and steal your lunch money! Haha not really I’m not coming in 100 metres of your fetid bedroom ‘aroma’.
Anyway, if you couple a great film with the fact that the screen at the IMAX was bigger than my ego and the company as ever was flawless, you’ll understand why I have no intention of seeing this again until at least the DVD comes out, because it’s just not going to top that night.