Batman Begins (2005) Director: Christopher Nolan
Batman Begins is the first part of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, surely the best of any contemporary superhero films. The story is based on the DC Comics hero, Batman. It has an all-star cast of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Ken Watanabe, Morgan Freeman and many others. The film was shot in the United Kingdom, Iceland, and Chicago. It was the first Batman movie since the terrible, Batman & Robin in 1997. Batman Begins takes a decidedly darker tone.
It tells the story of the rise of Bruce Wayne, from a boy of great wealth under his family’s company, Wayne Enterprises -the leading business in Gotham City. One night, on their way out of a movie theatre, Bruce’s parents are both robbed and killed at gunpoint, leaving Bruce an orphan. He travels widely, eventually arriving at the mountain sanctuary of the League of Shadows, the dwelling of Ra’s al Ghul. He trains to fight with ninjas, even under the influence of a powerful drug that grows on the mountains. However, he does not fulfill his training because he refuses to kill a man who committed a crime. Instead he fights the league, and burns down their mountain home, only saving Liam Neeson’s character (his teacher), who we later learn to be the true Ra’s al Ghul. He returns to Gotham to fight crime, assuming the appearance of a bat, his childhood fear. He poses publicly as a shallow playboy. He tracks down a criminal ring led by corrupt psychologist Dr. Jonathan Crane -perhaps loosely based on the scarecrow and pumpkin man characters in the comics. He is poisoning the water with hallucinogens, and he claims to work for Ra’s al Ghul when cornered by Batman. Suddenly the true Ra’s al Ghul appears at Bruce’s birthday celebration and attacks the city and burns down Wayne manor. In a dramatic conclusion, Batman stops Ra’s from infecting the entire city and beyond with his hallucinogen by derailing the train he is on.
Despite the film being riddled with unfortunate cliches, it is an excellent start to the best superhero trilogy in modern memory. It returns a darker element to the Batman story.