Holy popcorn, Batman…

Do not walk, run to the theater to see Batman Begins. I’m serious.

I’ve been a Batman fan since I was a wee lad. I think I was ten when I started answering the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” with a completely serious and deadpan, “Batman.” And I hated the Tim Burton Batman movies. Michael Keaton? Give me a break. And Jack Nicholson as the Joker was just wrong. The Joker is scary. Jack Nicholson was just annoying. And don’t even get me started about the nipples on the Batsuit (and Robin’s suit, but oddly absent on Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl outfit) in the two dreadful Joel Schumacher Batman films, the last of which manages to be so horrible as to be an embarassing moment in Arnold Schwarzeneger’s film career.

Fact is, I liked the cornball Adam West/Burt Ward Batman TV series and feature film better than any of the Burton / Schumacher films. So given the credentials of Christopher Nolan (specifically Memento) I figured it was a slam-dunk that Batman Begins would be an improvement over the Burton / Schumacher films. I was simply not prepared for how much of an improvement. Christian Bale was so believable and the whole scenario the film was built around just flat-out worked. I was in awe.

My only complaint was that this movie was such an excercise in brilliant casting with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy (as well as Bale) filling their roles to a T that the inclusion of Katie Holmes was just appalling. If I had to guess I’d say that Holmes was forced on Nolan by Warner Bros. Otherwise her casting makes absolutely no sense. We’re set up in the opening of the film to see her character as being a playmate (the daughter of the Nanny of the house) of Bruce Wayne’s. That suggests that they’re the same age. Katie Holmes is quite a bit younger than Christian Bale, so as the movie progresses she looks ridiculous. And her mousy, weak persona makes her seem out of place and unbelievable throughout the film. We’re expected to believe that she’s an Assistant District Attorney. Folks, I wouldn’t believer her as an assistant manager at a Burger King. She comes across as a ditz. Hopefully she will not return in future sequels.

Oh, and there will be sequels. I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie not only makes piles of money at the box office but wins awards. The Lord of the Rings series proved that fantasy films can be taken seriously by critics and the voters at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. And we are set up perfectly for the next chapter in the saga. Possibly my favorite thing about Batman Begins was the way they portrayed the one and only super-villain in the film, Scarecrow. He was terrifying. The stuff of nightmares, which is how it should be. Should they choose to bring out the Joker or Two-Face in a future film either one is likely to scare the bejesus out of the audience, which is, again, as it should be. Batman’s world is a terrifying one.

Right on Chris Nolan. Right on.

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