Sunday, July 27, 2008

Batman Begins - Finally somebody got it right!

Sometimes, (rarely) I like being wrong. Let's just make sure that I'm being clear here - I'm talking very rarely, especially when it comes to my love of and opinions regarding feature films.

I resisted one particular film - "Batman Begins" - with every fiber of my being. But why? Everyone loved it. Everyone recommended it. Audiences flocked to it.

Still, I refused to see it in the theater. And for three years I let it languish on the shelf at Blockbuster - going from new release, to recent release, to just plain old release in the dusty annals of the action section.

Why, you may ask?

Because my heart was broken before by the caped crusader. And it still stung a little. You see, I grew up watching Adam West and Burt Ward camping it up on TV's classic "Batman." I LOVED "Batman" when I was a young lad. I even had Batman colorforms (those of you over 35 may remember colorforms. The rest of you will have to google them). I had comic books, too, and "Superfriends" on Saturday morning TV was the cornerstone of weekend viewing.

So when I found out that Tim Burton was set to helm a rebirth of the man we call bat, I was pumped and ready to enjoy my childhood hero on the big screen. What resutled was, well...interesting.

Yeah, Jack Nicholson was fantastic and the effects were cool, but the goofy art direction and diversion from what for years we had come to love from Batman made this a less than enjoyable experience. Adding to the disasterous results was the flip-flopping of the lead actor.

Michael Keaton? You mean Mr. Mom? Val Kilmer? But he was the lizard King! George Clooney? His suit had nipples! This was not Batman. And don't get me started on the other villains they trotted out for us after the demise of the Joker. (My current governor was one of them, so out of respect I'll just let it go.)

The tone set in these films was increasingly dissapointing with each successive foray onto the silver screen. I watched them all regardless, and my heart shattered a bit more with each passing attempt.

Then came Christian Bale and what was touted as the more true to form "Dark Knight" approach to the Batman legend. Sorry, I'd been burned too many times before. No more Batman movies. I was done.

Or so I thought.

Now, with the newest "Dark Knight" film breaking the record for a movie opening, surpassing Spiderman 3, and my son asking repeatedly if he could see it, I had a choice to make. So I swallowed my pride, marched down to Blockbuster, and rented "Batman Begins."

What I discovered was a slightly dark, innovative, and well delivered origin film which hit the perfect tone for a whole new generation of Batman devotees. The movie is fun and well-paced, introduced the staple characters we've come to love and expect, and gave us the action that we crave along with the techno-gadgetry that Batman has become famous for in his numerous incarnations.

I will admit it. I have been converted. I'm a Dark Knight fan. I can't wait to plunk down my matinee ticket at the local multiplex and introduce my son to my favorite crime fighting idol of all time. Make note, because I don't admit my errors often or freely, but this time, I have to. And what a great cast: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, and the great Rutger Hauer. Very good stuff all around. (Yeah I know I didn't mention Katie Holmes. That was on purpose.)

I give "Batman Begins" five flying Batarangs out of five...

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