With Joel Schumacher all but destroying the Batman franchise, Batman Begins sees the Dark Knight finally giving the treatment and respect he deserves, in what can only be described as one of the greatest re-vamps given to an enduring character.
The film begins with multi-billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in self-exile, as he tries to find a way to avenge the death of his parents. Stuck in a prison in far East Asia, he is recruited by Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) to join vigilante group the "League of Shadows", led by the mysterious Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe).
There he is taught how to fight against injustice, only to find out that Ra's Al Ghul and his men plan to destroy his home town, Gotham City. Escaping from their evil clutches, Wayne returns to Gotham City where he transforms himself into a symbol that will stand up against the corruption that has choked his city: Batman.
A more realistic take compared to earlier Batman films, director Christopher Nolan brings a sense of reality to Batman Begins, with the characters given more dimensions, and the villains not so over the top, compared to the cartoonish parodies of the Joel Shumacher films.
This is both a blessing and a curse. The franchises new found realistic slant helps the action scenes, which are superbly choreographed, but shot way too close. Also, the gadgets come across as a little too amateurish, yet with any origin story, that is of no surprise.
Another gripe with Batman Begins is its dialogue, with the films script contains too many catches phrases, ala Spider Man, that come off a little corny and out of place.
Yet regardless of its dialogue squabbles, the films performances are delivered with gusto by an all star cast.
Leading the pack is the exceptional Christian Bale, who brings a much stronger physical presence to the character, compared to previous actors who have donned the cap and cow. He also pulls off Bruce Wayne’s wanker playboy to perfection, perhaps unintentionally evoking his American Psycho yuppie Patrick Bateman in the process.
Michael Caine is at his charming, wise best as Alfred, butler to the Wayne estate; chameleon thespian Gary Oldman is almost unrecognisable as police Lt. Jim Gordon; and Cillian Murphy provides the necessary lunacy needed in his portrayal as side show villain, the Scarecrow.
Katie Holmes and Tom Wilkinson, however, are sadly miscast, the former not able to convey the spunk her character so needed; and the latter failing to bring dread while evoking a God awful wiseguy accent as dangerous crime lord, Carmine Falcone.
A moody and visually stimulating superhero film, Batman Begins is an entertaining film, which will leave its viewers looking forward to the sequel, thanks to a juicy little hint on what to expect during the film's conclusion.