22 June 2005

Not your usual Batman film

I’ve got to hand it to Christopher Nolan – the creator of the latest Batman film. Batman is almost human.

That’s what I like most about the film “Batman Begins”: It presents a psychological profile of the superhero – tracing his childhood, his fear of bats, his witnessing of his parents’ murder, his guilt for having survived it, his desire for revenge, his misguided sense of justice, his penance.

I’m not sure if Bob Kane (the creator of Batman) had conceived his superhero in this way, i.e. with a 360-degree view in mind, but in the film Batman Begins, writer David S Goyer and cowriter-director Christopher Nolan does a great job of bringing it all together. Although it is a make-believe world of what may have happened to Bruce Wayne – the man who became Batman the superhero – to me, it makes it all believable.

Batman Begins covers a lot of ground: the traumatised child, the young man seeking justice, his life as a criminal, the warrior-in-training, the rich playboy with a secret identity, and the superhero taking on a world of crime. It shows tough Christian Bale as Batman meting out justice by embracing the role of a vigilante – the only kink in the superhero’s character. But most of all, it shows our superhero’s fallibility as a cold-blooded executioner, without compromising on his reserve for fighting crime. I guess, there’s a human side to a superhero after all.

However, let me caution you: Batman Begins is nothing like the action-comedy-fun Batman films of Tim Burton or Joel Schumacher you may have already seen. This is a serious film. It is dark and joyless. It is long – making it boring for those who expect to see an action film. And, for the simple-minded, the plot is complex and heavy-going.

In other words, Batman Begins is not your usual Batman film.

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