I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Batman Begins over the weekend. Solamente. I normally like seeing movies on my own - no one to share popcorn or twizzlers with me, so I can eat them all myself. Wheee! But I wished I had seen BB with someone because it would have been fun to talk about a) how lovely Christian Bale is b) how heinous Katie Holmes is and c) how effing good the movie was. As such, Kate got treated to a 12:30am phone call from me.
Anyway, I went to the 9:40pm showing at the Loews on Route 10 in East Hanover. This theater gives me serious pangs for the New Brunswick Loews, or even Clifton Commons. The East Hanover Loews does not have real stadium seating and the seats don't go all the way up to your head, so you're actually forced to hold your own head up during a feature. The horror! Seriously, it's kind of annoying.
The theater was completely packed - lots of couples, lots of college kids home for the summer, and a healthy dose of pre-teen boys with their moms. There was this kid in front of me with his mom and dad (dad liked to push his rocking seat back into my knees - thanks!) who looked about twelve and kept picking fights with his sweet but dopey mother. Dopey mom kept shooshing her punky son as he grew more and more angry. Then he got more angry and belligerent - yelling at her about two inches from her face. If that little punk had been my kid.... well, I wouldn't have let my kid talk to me like that. And dad just sat there. I was a pretty good kid growing up, still I was always careful to never speak disrespectfully to my mother in front of my father. If anything was grounds for the wrath of pops, it was disrespecting mom. Apparently, gone are those days.
The movie started, and so I'll stop my schpiel on the inanities of the theater and get down to the film itself. Simply put, it ruled. It had the wonderful juxtaposition of being terribly sad and wildly fun from moment to moment. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as it was directed by Christopher Nolan, the gent who brought us Memento, one of my favorite films of the last decade. Sure, sure, there are moments of slight cheesiness, but what kind of comic book movie would this be without a little cheese? Nolan co-wrote the screenplay, and indeed, the themes that he enjoys pursuing - damaged hero, strange friendships, regret, and of course, revenge, are all present.
Really, though, the aspects that turn Bruce Wayne into Batman, the history and suffering he endures are nicely rendered and acted. Of course, you'll recall that Bruce's parents are murdered in front of him when he is a child. He becomes a young adult filled with feelings of rage, fear, regret and loss and while bumming around and being a criminal himself, he meets up with Liam Neeson, who trains him. One of my favorite scenes occurs on an ice flow (filmed in Iceland, apparently on one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world - it move 4-5 inches per day) which constantly cracks and pops, as the two men circle one another, spar and argue about who is really to blame for the death of Bruce's parents. Beautifully filmed and acted.
I won't give away too many more details, as I don't wish to ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it. I will say, the action sequences were on par with The Bourne Identity, including a car chase that frankly rivals the one through Moscow in The Bourne Supremacy. Bourne is my yardstick for action sequences... and BB doesn't have a hand-held camera, so if that bothered you about Bourne, you have nothing to worry about here.
What else? Cillian Murphy, that excellent Mc whom you'll remember as the hero from 28 Days Later, gives a perfectly cool and creepy turn as a psychiatrist (aka The Scarecrow). And who doesn't love Michael Caine - he brings some much needed humor and British charm to a somewhat dark movie. Last but not least - Christian Bale. Oh, what I wouldn't do to Christian Bale. He is just so dreamy. And I'm not going to complain about all the times he doesn't wear a shirt in the movie. Because that made up for the annoying Katie Holmes. And yet, she didn't even ruin the movie! She is blessedly not a big part of this, and therefore, easier to ignore. Honestly, what would we do without the UK and Ireland and all their fine actors?
Manohla Dargis's review for The Times is really on-point, and I even agree with her on how Nolan needs to improve how he shoots a fight sequence. But really, it's a ridiculously good time, with sadness and poignance that never veers towards the overly sentimental. Get thee to a movie theater!