Sometimes, even if you’re just a vengeance-filled guy dressed as a bat, you need a bit of rebirth.
I have really disliked the previous Batman movies–yes, even and especially Mr. Mom’s version. They tried to straddle both the campy and the dark sides of the fence, and got a bit uncomfortable in the batsuit as a result. I thought Danny Devito was painful to watch.
Batman Begins is more what I had in mind–it picks a side and goes with it. Humor is not abandoned, but left mainly to Michael Caine. It’s a much darker rendition.
And yet. And yet. It could have been more.
I would have really enjoyed a more ambiguous treatment of Batman. Sure, he’s for justice–but blurring the line between that and vengeance would have been more interesting. A movie that left the reader wondering if he really should always root for Batman, or at least would feel uncomfortable rooting for him would have been a triumph.
Similarly the bureaucracy is split into Good People and Bad People. The Good People don’t take bribes and are eternally selfless. The Bad People take bribes and are corpulent. How about nuance? How about examining how people who don’t view themselves as bad nonetheless end up frustrating justice through petty careerism or hamstrung by perverse incentives? How about a city government concerned first and foremost with its own survival and somewhat aloof from the issues of the citizens, the criminals, or the “good guys”?
To their credit, they kind of tried with the main villain in the piece, but I won’t give it away (though you probably will see it coming a good distance off). Still, it was a pretty paper-thin attempt.
The acting was OK, the special effects good, but the fight scenes were a little weak (pretty obvious camera work to hide the lack of actual fighting by the principles–or a really bad attempt to show them really doing it).
Overall enjoyable and a vast improvement. But it could have been just a bit more–which is what keeps it less than X-men or Spiderman-level.