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BMZ Review: Batman Begins: The IMAX Experience
By Paula Tagle

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Batman Begins: The IMAX Experience
Written by: Paula Tagle
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: July 14, 2005

     

Category: Reviews

Superbly directed by Christopher Nolan, Batman Begins: The IMAX Experience translates an oft-told story in the vein of Bob Kane's original comic book character.  Familiar to most, the story of Bruce Wayne/Batman begins with tragedy as a young Bruce witnesses his parents murdered.  Batman Begins expands on this tragedy, focusing with great clarity Bruce's motivation and drive to become The Batman.

We are introduced to Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in a prison camp somewhere in an unidentifiable East.  He has removed himself from his billionaire life only to be found by Ducard (Liam Neeson), a pupil under the tutelage of cult leader Ra's Al-Ghul.  Ducard teaches Bruce the tools which would eventually lead Bruce to mold himself into Batman.  This meeting with Ducard sets in motion the rest of the narrative: Bruce's return to Gotham, his superhero transformation, and his drive to rid Gotham of corruption.

Rather than glossing over the Bruce Wayne-Batman transformation (in a means to create more Batman footage), the film goes into detail of Bruce's means and reasons for reconstructing himself.  This is where the film's strength lies, as it is unafraid to tell a deep story on what one would expect to be an action-based, "fun" summer film.  Yet once The Bat does appear it is in no way disappointing.  For once, a comic book-cum-film has finally created a superhero more charismatic and interesting than the villain.

Using the theme of fear, the film captures a Batman truly unique from his predecessors (the witty Tim Burton Batman or the atrociously banal Joel Schumacher version).  Here, Batman moves amidst shadows, he is always concealed and hence baffling.  The film reveals Batman sparingly, sometimes we only see a dark corner full of shadows with only the suggestion of Batman lurking within.  Bale plays both Batman and Bruce Wayne convincingly, revealing an intensity to character not often found in other Batman incarnations.

What is most common to superhero films is the struggling duality of normal identity vs. superhero alter-ego.  Spider-Man 2 attempted to explore this dichotomy, but delivered nothing special.  Nolan's Batman however relates a viable, convincing struggle where Batman's depth and righteousness must be obscured by Bruce Wayne's superficiality.  Bruce Wayne acts shallow, rude, vacuous; whereas Batman appears noble, mysterious, and oh-so-heroic if you will.  This mystery, however, comes with a price.  The need for Bruce to appear a superficial playboy in his public self disallows anyone from knowing his true nature.  This façade then calls into question Bruce Wayne's/Batman's true self.  Where previous Batman films clearly tag their hero as Bruce Wayne (Batman is just a costume for him), this film poses Batman as the real self and Bruce Wayne as his alter (public) ego.  Here, identity is truly a crisis.  This issue of identity, however, is only one aspect of a film that provides many believable struggles (be they physical, emotional or psychological).

The IMAX version of the film adds not only to the action of the film but its high drama.  Although the fight sequence tend towards the confusing, it is those images that evoke still photography that provides the most breathtaking moments; like Bruce Wayne amidst thousands of flitting bats or Batman standing atop the pinnacle of a high-rise building.  The CG images are competent as well, and not so obvious on such a large screen.

Nolan has taken his time in telling this story, offering depth so lacking not only in comic book films, but films in general.  An outstanding supporting cast rounds out the film: Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox ... the list goes on.  An excellent screenplay and superiorly executed, Batman Begins expresses a dark, somber Batman, but ultimately one more desirable and appealing than we have thus seen so far.

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