Batman Begins on DVD
Our favorite superhero movies have been origin stories. This is what
we get with Batman Begins and, though it may not be quite as good as
Tim Burton’s original Batman, it’s a satisfying and entertaining
look at how events at and below stately Wayne manor got under way.
Like the original Richard Donner Superman and Sam Raimi’s Spiderman,
Batman Begins follows the creation of the legend. This time, Christian
Bale is the young Bruce Wayne (well, the adult young Bruce Wayne; there’s
also a little kid Bruce Wayne played by Gus Lewis) who searches for his
destiny through a life of petty crime that leads him to a far east prison
and eventually membership in a mysterious group called the League of
Like Donner’s Superman, Batman Begins helps get its sense of realism
through an outstanding supporting cast that includes Michael Caine as
Alfred, Morgan Freeman (as a kind of “Q” from the Bond movies),
Gary Oldman as the one-day Commissioner Gordon and Liam Neeson as Wayne’s
eventual mentor and nemesis. Oh, yeah. Katie Holmes is also along as
Wayne’s longtime girl friend.
The story of young Bruce witnessing the murder of his parents at the
hands of a thug is well known. But we get it fleshed out a tad this time,
with background into what kind of man his father was (a liberal vision
of a “good capitalist”, a rich guy with a heart of gold,
though we aren’t beaten over the head with it, fortunately) and
looks into his relationship with young Bruce . This serves to show us
the huge loss his parents’ death was to Bruce, partially as a way
to explain why when he grew old enough he left his life of privilege
behind and crawled into the dark underside of world society.
But someone named Ducard (Neeson) finds him and recruits him to the
League, where Wayne is trained in all kinds of methods of battle. But
when he learns his mission for the League is to destroy Gotham City because
it was a horrid place – kind of like Islamofascists want to destroy
western civilization because they don’t like people who don’t
kowtow to their world view.
Hence Bruce Wayne’s split from the League and his return home
not to destroy Gotham but to save it. He discovers a conveniently forgotten
arm of the Wayne conglomerate, run by Freeman, to equip him with the
nifty high tech stuff used to stuff Batman’s utility belt and,
combined with the skills he honed in training for the League, becomes
the crime fighting sensation we’ve been waiting to see since the
And this is when it gets to be a more conventional Batman movie as the
Caped Crusader starts up his secret life from his bat cave headquarters
below stately Wayne manor (we were a little disappointed that they never
referred to it as “stately Wayne manor,” but just a little).
We enjoyed Batman Begins very much. It may not be high art, but it does
a pretty good job of stringing the new story around the Batman myths
that have become so well-known over the years. Christian Bale does a
good job in the title role, and we even enjoyed how he put on a “fake” voice
while wearing his Bat suit to help prevent people from identifying him
from his voice (how come no superhero has thought of that before?).
The whole cast is very good, and we were pleasantly surprised to see
Rutger Hauer on hand, though he has quite a small part. We particularly
liked Caine, who brought depth to a role we figured he’d just walk
through before we saw it. Likewise, Freeman brings some humor and heart
to his role, and Neeson’s dual role gives him a chance to flex
his thespian muscles a bit as well.
This Batman movie features a wonderful, high tech look for Gotham City
and we liked it even better than Burton’s dark metropolis from
We’d have to say that this is the best bat film since Burton’s
original, which we liked chiefly because of Michael Keaton and the film’s
great look. It also features by far the best special effects of all
the bat films.
It’s a great DVD, too. There are two versions out, a single disc
sold separately in widescreen and Pan&Scan incarnations and a widescreen
two disc special edition. We got the single disc, widescreen version,
so we lose a lot of the more deluxe set’s extras. That didn’t
bother us a lot, since we care more about the movies themselves anyway
except for a few special titles we can never learn enough about (and
this ain’t one!).
The picture is nothing short of spectacular. This is a reference quality
disc, with wonderful sharpness and detail and a 16x9 compatible widescreen
picture that you’ll probably be seeing used to demonstrate TV’s
in stores over the next several months.
Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and it, like the picture, is reference quality.
The only extra on our “non-special edition” is the theatrical
We went into this expecting the film to suck. To our joy, it doesn’t.
In fact, it’s a very entertaining film that’s not only fun
to watch, but a joy for home theater aficionados.
Batman Begins, from Warner Home Entertainment
140 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1, 16x9 TV compatible/Pan&Scan
sold separately), Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary
Oldman and Morgan Freeman
Produced by Emma Thomas, Charles Roven, Larry Franco
Written by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, directed by Christopher
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