We emerged blinking into the sunlight yesterday, and went off to Pickles in search of some much needed sustenance. Fed and er.. pickled, we return home. Adit, my cousin, is on the phone. ‘Well?’ he goes, and of course he’s asking for my opinion of Batman Begins.
I’m grimacing; not many words emerge but he gathers I was less than enthralled. Quickly he sets about estimating the value of my opinion on this most important matter. ‘Are you a Batman fan at all? Have you see any of the others?’ ‘Oh, yes,’ I tell him recklessly, ‘I saw a couple of those Val Kilmers.’ Adit’s voice takes on a touch of frost: ‘There was only one Val Kilmer movie.’ Ah!
Still I muddle on airily, ‘Yes, yes, and that Michael Keaton waala and even the one with that Chris O' Donnell chap’. Like my master, I don’t keep nonsense facts in my head that I could just as easily look up, and I don’t want to look this up. Adit however is not impressed at all – he’s telling me how IMDB is already rating this one at 8.6 when even American Beauty stayed at 7. Which, IMHO, goes to show how crappy this reviewing system must be but that’s another matter.
So we’ve established I’m not a fan. To me, this was just a movie about a hero’s beginnings. And how it was mauled. First a skinflint lighting budget that passes off for brooding atmosphere. The pits was one character actually raising a cigarette lighter to see two centimeters beyond his nose. Light, give me some light!
Shaken by his powerlessness in Gotham City, Bruce Wayne makes his way around the world, studying evil and collecting some steel. He ends up in a mysterious Asian prison and falls in with a set of brigands called… wait, lemme check… Ra's Al Ghul, where chief man (with the funniest moustaches I’ve seen in a while) and man called Henri Ducard give him some training with swords and whatnot. Ok great.
The Batman terrified of bats. Isn’t that a great idea? Conquering and owning your worst fear. Using that as your own signature, an enduring symbol of your biggest win over your own mind. Nice.
Execution? Sad. The scene where Ducard gives Bruce this bowl of burnt herbs to inhale to call up his fear... you’re waiting to see how it is done, the calming of this thumping agitation, the soothing of this fluttering fear, the resignation, the acceptance, the peace. Instead we have masked people who surround the man, and suddenly Moustache Man begins to applaud. Whatever happened? There is a really nice bit in the grotto later though, bats swooping around a perfectly still Bruce Wayne. Not bad.
The good bits? Seeing exactly how all those Batman accessories were put in place – the costume, the batmobile, the underground caverns. And I really liked Scarecrow. And Michael Caine and Freeman and even Rutger Hauer. Not so much Christian Bale.
So we come to Katie Holmes, and make no pretence whatsoever of being fair. I’m a Nicole Kidman loyalist and believe that Cruise should never ever have left her. And he’s settling for this?! No authority as a DA or whatever she is, no particular warmth and can’t act. Plus, doesn’t comb her hair. This is what you want? A malleable young thing grown up gazing at your posters, willing to embrace Scientology and make her life and views over to you? Oh, Tom.
They’re telling me this is the best of the Batman movies. What a good thing I can’t remember the others.