The Observotron

I am the omnipotent machine of observation and opinion spewing. All I do and say is right.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Batman Begins: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

(Warning: Contains spoilers, bad humor, ellipses and exclamation. Sorry… It’s just the way I am!)

Yes, compared to the nipple-suited dark knight of the 90s, this batman is Amadeus. But that doesn’t mean it gets everything right. So let us take a magical journey through the good, the bad, and the ugly of Batman Begins:

The Good


Wow. Somehow Nolan and his homies were actually able to weave a tale that convinces me that a person in the real world, given the right circumstances, could become a crime fighter that leaps around the city dressed as a giant bat. Previous adaptations have already made it fairly common knowledge that Batman’s motivation to fight evil stems from when his parents were murdered in front of him while he was very young, but this movie is finally able to explain how this leads ultimately to him becoming the caped crusader rather than the insomniac who sits in the back of the bus jerking off to newspaper clippings (The kind of role Christian Bale usually plays). Here is a simple checklist of the ingredients needed to make 1 Batman:

  • Have Traumatizing memory involving bats that leads to a long-term fear of the little buggers.
  • Witness the tragic murder of parents, making you hate bad guys forever and ever and ever.
  • Be raised by kind and gentle Michael Caine. (What’s it all about Alfrie?)
  • Get slapped hard by Tom Cruise’s newest ball-warmer for not realizing that justice is not about vengeance.
  • Live in the criminal world to learn your enemy, and pick up some sweet fighting moves along the way.
  • Combine the sweet fighting moves you learned on the street with training from the League of Shadows before burning down their shit.
  • Understand the power of becoming a symbol of fear.
  • Own a company with a branch that specializes in state-of-the-art prototype combat equipment.

Combine all of these and I don’t how anyone could not end up as Batman, unless you have asthma or something.


They came up with an explanation to every well known gadget and gizmo that comes with the Batman we have all come to know; right down to why the batmobile has a rocket booster. (It was originally designed as a bridging vehicle to jump over rivers. Duh!)

Even the evil scheme to tear apart Gotham with its own fear is given weight by the way the pieces of this plot are slowly revealed throughout the film. First we hear about some sort of microwave emitter being stolen from one of Wayne Enterprise’s cargo ships. Then we are told that it is capable of vaporizing a city’s water supply. Finally, its purpose becomes very clear when we find out that a hallucinogenic inhalant has been pumped into the city’s water and will only take effect if it is absorbed through the lungs. Compare this to how the same type of scheme would have probably been handled in the 90s franchise: Jim Carrey orders his two whores/bodyguards to pull off a large tarp, revealing the microwave emitter, which isn’t really a microwave emitter at all but giant rotating question mark clad in glitter that spreads bad juju through Gotham. Voila! Break out the champagne!

This film also gives a real-world explanation for all the high-profile villains Batman shall inevitably face in the future. “Escalation,” Gordon explains. “We start wearing Kevlar, the criminals will start using armor-piercing bullets. You’re wearing a mask…” Boom! Enter the criminals that won’t shy away from dressing like clowns and cats.


The dark knight finally gets a director who understands that telling a dark story means more than shooting most of the scenes at night. This time around we have a hero that actually has more to deal with internally than just deciding what one-liner he will use the next time he waxes a bad guy. Also, this film correctly drew its dark tone from subject matter and story rather than having characters who stalked around spouting grim dialogue simply because they are supposed to be in a dark movie. The mood was never superficial and the characters, for the most part, felt real. Darkness aside, Batman Begins doesn’t forget that it is also a comic book movie and knows how to have fun, whether it’s Bruce Wayne swimming in a hotel fountain with his European lady friends or Batman instigating a rooftop car chase.

Gary Oldman

Man, this guy can act. If he told me he was a hotdog, I’d probably eat him. Oldman can play any type of role from the lord of all vampires, to a megalomaniacal comic villain, to a midget. Ok, so credit for the midget mostly goes to camera tricks, but the way he was able to get into that character and really… the other actors. Genius. Batman Begins however, is the first time Oldman has ever really been given the chance to play a normal, understated character. Gordon is not used as a cliché comic relief role like you would expect a sidekick to be. A lot of the time it is what he doesn’t say that are his best lines. When Falcone’s unconscious body is draped over a spotlight with his jacket ripped to create the model for the bat signal, one of the policemen looks into the sky and asks “What is that?” How is Gordon going to answer? Is he going to say what we are all thinking? Is he going to blatantly bash our intelligence and declare “It’s a bat.” No! Gordon is much too preoccupied with the uncertainty of the future of Gotham. All we get from him, after a moment of hesitation is “Cut him down.” Nobody else could have pulled off this role because nobody else is such a clean slate. Any other actor would overpower such a subtle character with their own persona. Oldman however is the master chameleon and brings no baggage when he gets into a character. I’ll bet if you think you have never seen him in a movie before, you would be wrong and probably on more than one account.

Cillian Murphy

This lil’ Irishman has such an intense stare and arsenal of creepy expressions that he is more Scarecrow without the mask than with. I loved every scene in which Dr. Crane had screen time, which leads me right into my biggest problem with this movie…

The Bad

Too Little Scarecrow

What kind of movie teases me with such a great villain, performed so well, and then leaves me with no final confrontation between him and the hero. Our final scene with Scarecrow has him riding in on a fire breathing horse, fully embracing his new super-villain identity, only to be given a face full of tazer by Katie Holmes and be carried off on his steed as he hangs whimpering from the pain. It was like picking up a hot hooker only to discover she’s a total tranny. Call me old-fashioned but I still need some of the film-making formula to stay intact for me to be satisfied with a movie, and that requires a face-off. No, Crane having his face tore off by tazer does not count. Now before you say anything, I know… Batman has his big battle with R’as Al Gul, his former jedi-master. Fist-fighting with Schindler just doesn’t cut it for me. I want my fight with Scarecrow and I want my hookers wang-free.


“This is not a dance” proclaims Ducard, in reference to fighting. Well, it’s sort of like a dance if we are talking about a high-school dance where you drink too much, throw-up on your date, pass out, and then wake up the next morning naked in the basketball hoop with “I Eat Cock 4 Breakfast” written on your forehead. Otherwise, no it’s nothing like a dance. The fighting in this movie is nothing but a bunch of quick edits between close-ups of knees and elbows. I think Nolan was going for more realistic fighting to contrast all the kung-fu type choreography that has become so popular recently. Apparently the realism worked on the camera man who seems to be trying to avoid getting hit by a stray blow in most shots. I guess leaving me disoriented from choppy edits is one way to make me feel the reality of fighting a man who uses misdirection. Some things though, the audience just doesn’t need to feel and is better off experiencing as an outside observer. I like Silence of the Lambs, but I don’t think being eaten will do anything to improve my enjoyment of that movie.

Love Story?

The one part of the story that we had to swallow on faith was whatever sort of romance Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes were suppose to have together. Having a love-interest that you have known all your life only happens in movies. In real life, dudes don’t dig chicks that they knew before they had nubblies, even after they do. Either that or all the girls I grew up with were built like gravel trains. The point is though that the romance aspect of this movie played out like a high-school rendition of the love story in Spiderman. So Katie Holmes can’t be involved with a superhero. Big deal, Bruce has plenty of Europeans in his rolodex. Katie Holmes always struck me as a tad hideous anyway. Speaking of which… (I am the king of segues)

The Ugly

Katie Holmes

Why do so many people find her attractive? Her face is melting off and she talks out of the side of her mouth like a stroke victim. Apparently, Warner Brothers no longer includes a screening for leprosy in their audition process. If only it was her who kept a bag over her head throughout the movie instead of Cillian. That would have brought balance to the force, and to my groin.


Origin story = good

Underused villain = bad

Katie Holmes = diseased in the face

Overall Score = 8/10 thumbs up

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