My ‘Batman Begins’ review

Batman and I go way back.

The first birthday cake that I can ever remember was Batman-shaped. My first action figure — at least the first one that meant a damn — was Batman. Ditto pajamas. And I’m pretty sure somewhere there’s a photo of me dressed as Batman for one of my first Halloweens.

When I got to be a little older and imagination was my favorite playmate, I used to stay up late to watch the ’66 TV series on Nick at Nite. Even then, I knew it was hokey — but, hey, when it came to Batman, I’d take what I could get.

In 1989, I stayed up real late and watched the first Tim Burton movie as the second feature at a drive-in. My family was asleep all around me, but I was wide-eyed and enthralled. I don’t think I’ve ever re-adjusted to the daytime.

A year or so later, I came home from elementary school to find that my mother had purchased me a copy of a Batman comic book. I’d gotten a C on a test that day and this gesture made me feel even more like a disappointment. I cried and kept that issue in a ziplock bag for years. A short time later, my mother was unusually distraught at the drug store and bought me a Batman comic book that featured a mangled body dressed in a Robin costume. My excitement at this image (‘What do you think happens, Mom?’) didn’t seem to faze her and later I found out she had just run over a kitten while backing out of the driveway.

In high school, I used to while away my hours trying to figure out which of my friends were analogous to each member of the Justice League of America; I always penciled myself in as Batman. I filled longbox after longbox with his exploits — especially the arcane, psychological ones. At this point, I began to understand why Batman Returns was an even better film than the first one. It was also during this time period when one of the most sincere compliments I could come up with was “You remind me of Batman.”

Once at a video store, I overheard a mother trying to convince her young son that he wanted to rent Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin. My heart filled with pride when I heard the kid say, “Mom that one is stupid.” So stupid, in fact, it was the last we thought that we would ever see of Batman on celluloid. But years later, there were rumblings of hope — hope that a real director would finally make the one true Batman movie. Details started to emerge, and excitement mounted.

Later, early word broke that, in fact, it lived up to the hype. And then I saw it and, yes, I came here to blog about it.

Batman Begins is an incredible movie because at its core is a mesmerizing story of a man who transforms himself into something that he is not by willpower alone. To this end, director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale form a true (I can’t believe I’m saying this) dynamic duo. Bale externalizes his character’s inner world like a master and Nolan weaves a visual tapestry from his and David Goyer’s script that is as dark and as scary as a journey into the psyche should be. As a geek, of course, I have some nits to pick (that time is wasted on the superfluous Rachel Dobson character while Jim Gordon’s is underdeveloped, for example) but they are all made minor by the fact that this film works. Is it the one true Batman movie? No, but I don’t believe that’s possible; Batman has been seen through many looking glasses, each as true as the last and a testament to the power of the character. But Batman Begins enriches that history and is a great beginning indeed.