After the crime against cinema that was BATMAN AND ROBIN, the cinema-going universe feared that the Warner Brothers Batman franchise was dead. At the London premiere of his flick GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK, George Clooney was still apologising for the debacle, and it has been eight years! So it was with heart-felt thanks that the world received Christopher Nolan's Batman prequel, BATMAN BEGINS. Admittedly, you can never completely get rid of the camp under-tones - this is a full-grown man dressed up in a rubber suit after all - but Nolan has managed to create an authentic, multi-dimensional superhero. Here we have, brilliantly acted, superbly scripted, all the back story you ever need and told with all the psychological authenticity you would expect from the director who gave us the wonderful thriller, MEMENTO.
Christopher Nolan gets so much right, and it is so great to have Batman back on his feet, that it is tempting for viewers and critics alike to forgive the movie its flaws. But, there is no denying that while this is a massive improvement on BATMAN AND ROBIN, it is still not up to the "original" Tim Burton 1989 BATMAN. While the key cast members do a great job, especially Gary Oldman as the future Commissioner Gordon, Cillian Murphy as The Scarecrow and Christan Bale as Bruce Wayne, you get the feeling that Michael Caine is on autopilot as Alfred the Butler. Katie Holmes is also rather anaemic as the love interest and has reportedly been off'ed for the next movie in the franchise. However, the fatal flaw for me was Christopher Nolan's complete inability to direct action sequences. The mangled, over-edited car chases gave me motion sickness and entirely failed to thrill. In this post-Matrix world, shoddy action sequences are simply unforgiveable. So, while I am hugely indebted to Nolan for resuscitating the bat, Burton's BATMAN remains the high water mark of the franchise.
BATMAN BEGINS is available on region 1 DVD and was released on region 2 DVD this week.