Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by:Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Morgan Freeman, Linus Roache
Released: June 16, 2005
Grade: A-

I happily thought I’d seen the last of the Batman movies after the release of 1997’s Batman & Robin.  With Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman and Alicia Silverstone, it was a truly pathetic movie.  Hands up anyone who liked this?  Hands up anyone who can actually remember what it was about?

I was sceptical about a new Batman movie but not any more!  Batman Begins is on a par with the new Spider Man series as the best comic book movie of the past 10 years.  There are a number of reasons why this is the case so it’s time to give them their fair dues…

Christian Bale.  He’s one of those brilliant actors who keeps slipping under the radar.  I will not forget him when it comes time to publish a new list of my favourite actors.  His performance as a 13-year-old in Steven Spielberg’s Empire Of The Sun remains one of the finest acting jobs ever by a child.  His signature role to date would have to be as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.  Bale’s performance in Batman Begins is brilliant.  He’s dark and void of emotion.  And I love the slow, deliberate way in which he delivers his dialogue – it seems so humorously blasé.

The supporting cast.  I defy you to find a bigger name supporting cast in a 2005 release.  Gary Oldman plays a rare good-guy.  Liam Neeson plays a rare bad-guy.  It’s great when you see top-name actors tackle a role that contradicts what you’d usually expect from them.  Recent Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) is also in the mix along with two top British actors – Tom Wilkinson (In The Bedroom) and one of the best actors under 30 going around today, Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later).   The pick of the bunch though is Michael Caine who exudes class at all times.  Every single line he has is a gem.

Christopher Nolan.  You may not know the writer-director by name but you will know him by reputation.  Nolan has only made two major films and I’ve considered both worth of an A grade.  First was 2000’s Memento with Guy Pearce (considered the 22nd greatest film of all time according to the Internet Movie Database) and 2002’ Insomnia with Al Pacino and Robin Williams.  The 35-year-old Nolan is a true original and all of this films take you on an unexpected journey.

I haven’t spoken much of the story but you should know what to expect.  Our caped crusader battles to save the citizens of Gotham City from an evil villain.  What might catch you off guard is the story’s depth.  The opening hour looks at how Batman came to be and the second hour shows what Batman is capable of.  It’s a great balance of drama and action that stays true to the essence of the comic book.  Aside from an unnecessary scene at the very end there is thankfully no reference to any of the other four mainstream Batman flicks.

There hasn’t been a lot of publicity for the film which may have contributed to my liking for it – sometimes the best movies are those you enjoy without expectation.  The media seems to be focusing more on the love interests of Katie Holmes-Cruise, who plays a small part in the film.  Well, I send my congratulations to Ms Holmes on her recent engagement to Tom Cruise.  I hope it helps her land more roles because her performance here isn’t going to.  Her over-the-top innocence and annoying voice keeps the film from reaching near-perfection.