Going Bat To Basics
♦Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk comes out in cinemas next Friday 21 July and so we at Tripwire have decided to rewatch and assess the nine films he has released prior to this just like we did with Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Bros. Next up is Batman Begins, Nolan’s fourth film, which was released back in 2005
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Liam Neeson
Three years after lowkey noir Insomnia, Nolan was handed the biggest job of his career to date, a film which led to two sequels. With Batman Begins, Nolan had the task of reinventing DC’s cornerstone superhero character for the big screen after Joel Schumacher had driven it into the ground with two progressively terrible films starring The Dark Knight.
Batman Begins took the Batman mythos that everyone is familiar with and gave it a slight tweak. Bale as Batman/ Bruce Wayne is brooding and damaged, the wealthy orphan of well-heeled doctor Dr Thomas Wayne. Blaming himself for the death of his parents, he sets about trying to redeem himself by defending the city of his birth. He encounters the mysterious Ducard (Neeson). who becomes his mentor, but hides a dark secret as to his true identity and as Wayne continues to develop his Batman persona, he is forced into conflict with his old teacher.
Gary Oldman plays Jim Gordon, an honest policeman in a very corrupt city, trying to stop it from descending into an even deeper mire than it is already in. Katie Holmes plays Rachel Dawes, an old girlfriend of Bruce Wayne, a lawyer who is trying to clean up the city in the same way that Gordon is.
Nolan manages to keep the various plates spinning on screen and Batman Begins feels a lot closer to a real film rather than just a superhero franchise movie than many of its predecessors. Bale is pretty good as Batman and Neeson is suitably sinister as the villain of the piece with some well-handled misdirection about the true identity of villain Ra’s Al Ghul. The rest of the supporting cast including Morgan Freeman as Wayne’s boffin Lucius Fox and Michael Caine as Alfred lend a little gravitas and a touch of lightness to what would be a very dark film otherwise.
After three films with a modest budget and a more manageable cast, it is to Nolan’s credit that he managed to revamp Batman on screen with a style and an approach that was totally different to Burton and Schumacher. My only quibble is that the Nolan approach is one that would be used as a template for the DC films to come over the next decade, with a new direction only really ushered in with this year’s Wonder Woman.
However Batman Begins is a stylish superhero movie with some deft filmmaking touches. It also washed away the bad taste of the two Schumacher efforts and proved that Batman could be a going concern on the big screen again. Four films into his career and Batman Begins proves that Nolan is a director with range and ability. It is certainly his most confident and assured film when compared with the three films that preceded it. He would go on to build on the world he created here with The Dark Knight.