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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Batman Begins

About this Film
Spiritual Connections

Okay let me make a couple of things clear, I am a comic book fan and have been for years. While Batman may not be at the top of my list, he is among my top three comic book heroes of all time right there with Captain America and Spiderman. I have said it before and will say it again, comic books are as much for adults as they are kids and in some ways even more so for adults. Batman is a perfect example of that and thankfully, the new movie Batman Begins does justice to the character of Batman created by Bob Kane.

64.jpg (250 K)The person Bruce Wayne has a life filled with tragedy, heartache, and horror. He has gone through life blaming himself for the tragedies of his childhood. He is a character that many can relate to. The truth is, that unfortunately many have experienced tragedy and end up blaming themselves for those tragedies. While on the surface the concept of fear is approached, the story of Batman is about so much more than that. It is about each individual learning to deal with the tragedies of their youth, and discovering hope within their own lives and then doing something with that fear and hope for the humanity we can serve. Fear is just an obstacle that gets in the way. It is not the underlying theme or problem though and that is the mistake many make. While fear is in each persons life, just as in the life of Batman, it has to be attacked and conquered. For Bruce Wayne, overcoming fear would be a wonderful drama but it would not be a complete story. What to do once one has overcome fear, is the challenge and struggle that each of us must face. That in essence becomes the story of Batman. There must be a purpose in addressing fear. That is the struggle that Bruce Wayne faces and is what the story of Batman is all about.

44.jpg (177 K)One of the associations that many have to fear is darkness, it is a technique used by filmmakers and is a technique that is similar to the recent review I did of High Tension. Not just as a lighting effect, but as a story line. Don’t expect to leave this movie feeling great. The techniques are not comedy, brightness and wonderful events. The events include tragedy, despair, difficulty, death, and destruction. Notice the usage of darkness in this movie. There is not much hope or happiness. Corruption and greed run Gotham and we need to realize that Gotham don’t just represent New York City as many have implied, Gotham represents the world we live in. We are all residents of Gotham. The earth is seen as a place that is dark, greedy, and influenced by evil people, often times the evil that they do overpowering the good that others do. Just turn on the news and you will see an example of this. Kane in his original story line addressed all of the current problems of the time. Just as the time needed a hero in the inception of Batman, it still needs one, it needs one who will help society overcome fear, and return evil with good.

25.jpg (188 K)Without some personal comment one will not understand my own struggle and journey with the character of Batman. Please forgive me and let me give some of my life lessons. There are many reasons I identify and love the character, and journey of Batman. I won’t go into a ton of detail other than to say that as a child I was abused in every way you can imagine and grew up in a dark desolate place. A place filled with poverty, abuse, and crime. I became a part of that world, as much out of necessity as anything. That story is well documented and has been told around the country, yet, I still had hope, I still had dreams, not many, but they were there. I have never known a father, a similarity to Bruce Wayne. Having to grow up without father places a large amount of stress and thoughts into the mind of a young boy, just as it did Bruce Wayne. At some point in my life, things looked pretty dim and bleak. Then I developed a relationship with Jesus Christ and I found my own deliverer, my own Batman if you will. All of the principles that I have spoken about thus came into play. I had to overcome my fears, my own darkness and then do something about it.

76.jpg (165 K)Finding a way to overcome fear, and doing something about it is something most people face. It might be changing jobs, a death in the family, abuse, maybe a whole host of things. Truth is that we often attach large-scale things like dying, robbery, and the like to fear. My experience is that the small things also contribute to that attitude. It is often the little things that have the largest impact on our lives. Fear has not boundaries and must be attacked or it is just like we are told in the Bible; “it will consume us,” just as it almost consumed Bruce Wayne. Batman Begins is a wonderful story that illustrates that journey beautifully for Bruce Wayne. He is like a savior who continually reminded those he comes into contact with, “Don’t be afraid.”

66.jpg (279 K)Bruce Wayne begins his journey early in life, it is only when he has had a willingness to give up his own life that he identifies and understands his purpose. He must lead a life of serving others, and helping them overcome their fears. It is not just about overcoming fear though, it is about giving hope. He decides to take on a new, hidden identity to do good. He does not need the attention and he is not in it to be self serving. He understands that the bigger picture is about more than just him. He takes on a false identity. While we assume that the false identity is Batman, the truth is that the false identity is really Bruce Wayne. Batman, once his fears has been overcome, and he has discovered his purpose is really who he is. The old Bruce Wayne is but a reflection of his old character. The old Bruce Wayne has been put away, and he has become a new creature, the new creature of Batman. It is a concept that the old television series never seemed to get and understand. This movie gets it though. The character of Batman is about battling evil, and fortunately, he is a character that understands the difference between justice and revenge, otherwise he would be no better than the evil he is battling.

Fortunately, for Batman, there are those along the way to help. He has understood the importance of having support. Just as we must as we face the things we fear and then overpower them with hope. These individuals play critical roles in helping Batman along the way and will do so for us. They are examples of those that will need to help find purpose in life.

39.jpg (183 K)Enough on the sermonization of this movie let me say a few other things about it. Technically, this is a wonderful movie. I went in hoping that it would be as good as the first Batman with Michael Keaton, it was! The supporting cast, all of the way around, is better. There are many that are not “Big Name Stars” in title roles, with the exception of Michael Caine who plays an absolutely brilliant Alfred, Liam Nelson who plays a deliciously evil Henri Ducard, and Morgan Freeman who plays the tart character of Lucius Fox. There are others like Gary Oldman who plays Lt. Gordan but as a whole, the primary characters are not “big name actors.” That will soon change though because the supporting cast is brilliant. Regarding the cast, I must say that Christian Bale is Batman/Bruce Wayne!. He does a brilliant job in this role and I would have never dreamed that he would do as well as he has. There is also the villain of The Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane that is played wonderfully by Cillian Murphy. He is as wonderful in his role as Bale is at his.

In brief, how is this Batman? Well it has the best car, the best story, the best Alfred, the best villains, the best story, the best effects, and the best Batman. It is also the darkest, longest, most character development of any Batman. That being said, I’d say pretty darned good. I never got bored in the 2 ½ hours I was at the theater. It is well worth watching and well worth contemplating. Then after doing that, applying the lessons to your own individual life.

On a scale of 1-10 for the fact that I still think the two Spiderman Movies are better in their totality, I’ll give this one a well deserving and enjoyable 9.

About this Film
Spiritual Connections


Anonymous Liz the Brit said...

Yes, Mike... I notice that most if not all of the official reviewers on this site seem to like this movie... I appreciate what you said about being a lifelong comic book fan, and being able to identify with the struggles of the Batman, to help you through your own sad struggles in life. We have them all, my friend - even if you had 2 lovely parents like I had, they aren't always enough... particularly if you live in a country, or a backward, underdeveloped part of it, where nepotism is rife, and the fact is, it's not what you know but who you are related to, that will determine how you succeed in life... Little is fair these days: I honestly think our parents/grandparents generation (depending on our age) had it better.

Yes, so we all have problems and in a way it's good to see that comic book characters have them too...

But my observation is - that shouldn't a movie basically stick to being a movie in the genre to which it belongs? Most movies, after all, ARE genre movies: and you don't try to make a Bond movie into a sci-fi horror movie, or a romantic movie into a South Park style comedy, or a whatever...

"Batman" is part of the superhero genre. "Batman Begins" did not belong in that genre, as I have remarked on my own review on my own blog. It had quite some... appeal, and the acting performances were brilliant; "Batman Begins" had some kind of a linear story, one could see that it was trying to deal with some issues...

Tim BURTON'S "Batman" movies, on the other hand, did not have much of a linear storyline, neither of them; nor did they really try to address any issues... but at LEAST they were examples of what such a movie is trying to BE; superhero movies, albeit OTT Gothic superhero movies... Nothing like "Superman", for example; but nevertheless, movies recognisable as part of this genre; fantastic; otherworldly; imaginative in design.

I'm not a great Burton fan myself; but I'm just saying!

Whereas, it seems very obvious, quite bluntly, that Christopher Bale got his start in documentary films - THIS was the Bat-documentary!!

(You might as well have had Michael Moore directing it; at least he would have got the politics right!)

BECAUSE, Mr Furches, one thing I would really like to say, which I haven't seen most other reviewers point out - is that Gotham Gity is NOT Chicago; if I want to see Chicago I'll go to see it, or a film about it: Gotham City is Gotham City, and a movie about it should reflect its otherness.

I'm sorry, but I just think it's a way of saving on sets - albeit that they can make really great backgrounds with CGI now.

I don't much like Tim Burton, as said, but at least he has a distinctive vision! A design style. Chris Nolan has none. Point made. Hope you don't take offence - as Kevin so obviously has.

And, by the way - don't you think, that if this movie was REALLY attempting to do a "realistic" take on the Batman mythos, linked to what is really going on in the contemporary world... well, OK, it might focus on organised crime, which has always been a problem throughout America's history. But then - we know who's ultimately at the top of organised crime, now don't we??

And - is it REALLY right to blame America's SOCIAL and economic problems on some vaguely-defined foreign-based cult? Which has "sacked Rome and burnt London"???

Sounds like some sort of Pat Robertson theory, to me!

Why couldn't they have just stuck to the organised crime theme - and blamed some of GOTHAM'S elite?

THAT is the question I for one would like both film and comic book fans to consider.

3:49 AM

Anonymous Liz the Brit said...

Correction of typo: I meant Christopher NOLAN int the above!

12:04 PM

Blogger Reviews by Mike Furches said...

Liz thanks for your comments, I would agree with many of the things you bring out. I do believe that you have to see the movie differently than the comic, but for die hard fans that is not always possible.

9:26 AM


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