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Batkid Begins Brings Out the Best in Social Media

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2015 9 Jul
  • COMMENTS
<i>Batkid Begins</i> Brings Out the Best in Social Media

DVD Release Date: October 6, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: June 26, 2015 (limited); July 10, 2015 (wider)
Rating: PG (for some mild thematic material)
Genre: Documentary
Run Time: 87 min.
Director: Dana Nachman
Cast: Teresa Clovicko, Audrey Cooper, Katie Cotton, Eric Johnston, Miles Scott, Natalie Scott, Nick Scott

Considering the glut of bad news on any given day or the head-scratching antics that manage to go viral on YouTube (kittens dressed in human clothes, anyone?), the feel-good story of a sick little boy who is granted his greatest wish can't help but warm the heart. If anything, Batkid Begins is an engaging public service reminder about the goodness of humanity and how the world's interconnectedness via social media can actually be a positive thing.

Now if you aren't familiar with the whole Batkid phenomenon (I'll admit I was pretty much in the dark before watching), it all began in 2013 with Miles Scott, a shy five-year-old with a cherubic face who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was very young and forced to undergo excruciating rounds of treatment. The Greater Bay Area chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation wanted to give Miles "part of his childhood back" in rather extraordinary fashion.

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After discovering that Miles's only wish was to be the Caped Crusader for a day, the Make-A-Wish team immediately went to work. One of the more fascinating elements of Batkid Begins is the dedication and attention to detail involved with transforming part of San Francisco into Gotham City. While securing permits and coordinating efforts to re-route traffic for an event of this magnitude doesn't exactly make for the most exciting brand of entertainment, what is remarkable is how everyone from San Francisco's mayor to the police chief to the POTUS was involved in the process. This wasn't simply a matter of finding the right costume and the right car to stand in for the Batmobile, it was about celebrating the bravery of a little boy and making Miles a true hero for a day.

Once Miles's story made its way to Twitter, Facebook and the like, it rapidly became far more than a local phenomenon. The response, something a bulk of the film's running time is devoted to, is rather astounding. Before long, Miles has been cheered by an estimated 1 billion social media followers, not to mention the people who flew in from all parts of the world to get a real-life glimpse of the Batkid and the equally enthusiastic locals. Moved by this cyclone of goodwill, renowned composer Hans Zimmer even composed a musical theme.

In terms of pure documentary filmmaking, there's a good balance of real-time footage that allows the viewer to feel like part of the action and interviews that provide perspective and insight after the big event. While Miles's parents, Nick and Natalie Scott, still can't believe their son was such an inspiration to so many, Miles's reaction is downright comical. He's a kid who's easy to love and the lynch pin that holds the movie together during the more repetitive moments.

Adding a bit of creative panache to the final product is how some of Miles's story is given the graphic novel treatment. Fitting well with the story's superhero theme, it also gives the feel-good production some much-needed visual pop. And now that a feature-length production is in the works, too (Julia Roberts is set to star and produce the project), Batkid Begins provides a solid foundation in the meantime.

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CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Only those prescribed for medicinal purposes.
  • Language/Profanity: A single use of dam-, plus a couple of exclamations of God’s name
  • Sex/Nudity: None
  • Violence/Thematic Elements: Only of a comedic variety as the Batkid and Batman complete their “missions.” For instance they save a damsel in distress who is tied to the cable car tracks as a cable car is slowly heading that direction. There is no real danger involved. Since Batkid was suffering from leukemia, there is some discussion of him being sick, his treatment, etc.

Publication date: July 9, 2015

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