Justice More Than Revenge in Action-Packed Batman Begins
- 2005 14 Jun
Release Date: June 15, 2005
Rating: PG-13 (intense action violence, disturbing images, thematic elements)
Run Time: 141 minutes
Director: Christopher Nolan
Actors: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Ken Watanabe, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, and Rutger Hauer
If you want to see a star-studded, action-packed, dark-and-scary adventure movie this summer, "Batman Begins" is it. Like the latest "Star Wars" film, the producers do an excellent job of taking us to the beginning of the story and creating a fun, semi-realistic back-story to the campy adventure series we’ve come to love.
The movie begins with a disillusioned Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) living in a horrible prison somewhere in Asia. Though he’s in the prime of his life – and an excellent fighte r-- his childhood memories haunt him, and he just wants to die. One day he gets a mysterious visit in his cell from Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), who offers him a path in which to channel his fears and anger in a constructive way. He challenges Wayne to take a certain blue flower to the top of a snowy, treacherous mountain. If he makes it, Ducard says, he's assured of finding his answers.
Wayne is released from prison and does make the mountain trek, finding at the top an elaborate Asian castle, where vigilante-type warriors are trained. There, he reconnects with Ducard, who questions him about why he did not avenge the death of his parents, who were robbed and killed a decade earlier in Gotham City. He shows Wayne how to face and conquer his greatest childhood fears (in this case, it’s bats and bad guys), and how to manipulate the fears in others once he has mastered his own. He admits that the goal of the vigilantes is to bring justice to Gotham City – by destroying it. When Wayne is through with his training, however, Ducard asks him to prove himself in an unethical way, so he refuses. He burns the castle but saves Ducard’s life, vowing to now return and save Gotham City from its corruption – without destroying it.
When he gets back to the city, he finds out that a scary mob boss, Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), is running the town, and he even controls the court’s expert witness, a psychologist, Dr. Jonathan Crane, (Cillian Murphy) Dr. Crane often testifies that Falcone’s thugs are insane, and he has them brought to his mysterious asylum for “treatment.” There are only a few upstanding, ethical leaders left. One is the lovely Assistant D.A., Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), and the other is a policeman, Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman).
It turns out that Rachel was Wayne’s childhood friend, who is delighted to reconnect with the boy she’s always loved, but she’s worried about his motives and plans when she sees him partying one night and doing nothing about crime. She paraphrases the famous quote by Edmond Bourke when she says to him, “What chance does Gotham have when good people do nothing?” Wayne is eager to prove his intentions to Rachel, but first he must round up some impressive technology. With the help of his butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), and an inventor from Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Wayne pulls together an amazing Batman persona – complete with state-of-the-art everything, and makes himself known to a terrified city. But will it be enough to stop a surprising evil force – an evil much bigger than crime bosses and diabolical doctors with hideous inventions?
"Batman Begins" is clever and fun, and the special effects throughout the movie just might win an Oscar. The star-studded cast is amazing, and the talents of the new Batman, Christian Bale, are commendable. There is only one profanity in the movie, and no sex, but the violence and scariness are over the top in some places. (My ten-year-old had nightmares afterwards about the bad guy’s evil invention. Maybe that’s why it’s rated PG-13, not PG-10 … Duh!) The tone of "Batman Begins" is quite dark, so hopefully parents will exercise discernment about the cognitive development levels of their own children as it relates to their ability to deal with bats, monsters, insane bad guys, and the crime in a dark and gritty city.
The movie’s worldview, however, is basically biblical – a good platform for discussion on the topics of justice, revenge, compassion, bravery, and overcoming fears. For teens and above, "Batman Begins" is worth the bucks with its bigger-than-life Hollywood special effects, story, stars, and action.
AUDIENCE: Teenagers and adults
- Drugs/Alcohol: There is a drug vapor the bad guy uses to induce nightmares and distortions of reality
- Language: One profanity
- Sex: None
- Violence: Excessive, with fights, car chases and crashes, and many depictions of scary, bad-dream bats and monsters.