Viewed – 06 July 2012 Blu-ray
In anticipation of The Dark Knight Rises coming out at the end of the month, I thought it would be a good time to revisit Christopher Nolan’s first of his trilogy, and therefore re-discover the origins of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Christian Bale plays the billionaire playboy and heir to the Wayne empire founded by his parents, and following their murder, goes on a journey of self discovery that leads him to a Tibetan monastery, where he is trained by Liam Neeson to become a force of vengeance and retribution.
Nolan’s movie is immediately grand and beautifully shot with some gorgeous cinematography especially in the opening moments. Here he has returned the Batman franchise to its origins, shedding even the comic-book stylings of the Tim Burton era to create a more realistic and gritty experience. I recall on first seeing this that I felt much of what I had loved about Burton’s movies was gone – the enchantment, the music of Danny Elfman, the gothic architecture and the bizarre characters. Yet on reflection, perhaps I was a little trapped in the past, and now feel I can appreciate what Nolan has brought to the Batman mythos, therefore getting to the heart of what Batman really should be about. This is akin to the graphic novels more than the DC comics back in the day, and even though there is humour and some memorable one-liners, the tone is completely different than what has gone before.
That’s not to say we don’t get what we expect from a Batman movie – there are gadgets, a creepy villain in the shape of Cillian Murphy’s freaky Scarecrow and one killer of a Batmobile. Supporting cast, especially Neeson in a scene-stealing performance, but also Gary Oldman playing against type as the future Commissionaire Gordan, and a brilliantly layered Michael Cain as butler Alfred … are all perfect. But this remains not just Christopher Nolan’s movie but also that of Christian Bale, who delivers the perfect Wayne / Batman and looks the part, plays the part and is the part – troubled, heroic, arrogant and above all else – cool.
For story, casting, action and just plane brilliant film-making – this could be the best Batman movie yet made.
Verdict: 5 /5