In my recent post on the atrocious Batman (Modern) Utility Belt
(an item so terrible that I interrupted my vacation just to write about), I brought up my hatred for the film Batman Begins
. I also mentioned a 7-page email that I wrote ranting about why it was so terrible. It was actually only 6, but it was still a thorough dressing down of the flick.
At Cherrycat's request, I tracked it down, cleaned it up a bit (lots of typos because I was writing this while fueled with rage), and tossed in some pictures. Here at Tomopop, we aim to please. Everything else is left unchanged. You're about to see why all of my friends are afraid to to mention this cinematic travesty in my presence.
-Orginally sent June 19th, 2005- Okay, my response to this is sooooo long, that instead of making it an email, I've made it a separate text document (6 pages if you print the sucker out at a 10 point font with minimal page margins). This took me hours to write. Which just goes to show you that some questions just shouldn't be asked. I hope you'll actually read it. And I'd like to hear what you have to say in response (aside from the fact that I'm a big, old geek).
I'm sending this out to a few other people, so this is to you: If you haven't seen the movie yet and plan to, don't read this first as it spoils absolutely everything that in the movie.
I don't even no where to start. The dialogue sucked so much of the time. The introduction of the little-girlfriendy girl was so lame and unnecessary. Bruce Wayne should have grown up as an isolated child, which is why when his parents are killed, he has truly lost everything that he has in life. It seemed as though, since the killer had been found he had accepted that his parents had been killed. And it was only when the killer would be released that he became obsessed with whatever he was obsessed with.
Now I can understand wanting to kill the freed killer of your parents. And I can understand being frustrated that someone beat you to the punch. But he's had 18 years to deal with and come to terms with their deaths. As far as I'm concerned, the will to become a crime-fighting vigilante that has been created by a lifetime of pent-up obsession is completely erased. A person in the mindset of the movie's Bruce Wayne would be obsessed probably in using his fortune to bring down Falcone, but there's nothing there to make him become a crazy crime-fighter.
So back to his little girlfriend, who is still at this point a useless character only in it because Hollywood movies need a love-interest (even when the main character should be so obsessed that he becomes detached from humanity and is incapable of loving anyone). He's been out of town for 18 years and yet they act as if they've been best friends forever. And when she brow beats him about how ashamed his father would be of him, well he should be. He had enough of a wholesome upbringing that would have prevented him from going that route.
And then there's the beat-the-audience-over-the-head messianic character of Thomas Wayne. This completely unbelievable good man who's a billionaire but yet is still just a doctor (who makes house calls no less), and yet still is capable of designing a 20 story-high tram system throughout the city.
And here I am going to move into the production design. A realistic setting for the story was a great choice. They filmed it in on location in Chicago and London, and it feels real and lived-in... EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT IT HAS A 20-STORY-HIGH TRAM SYSTEM THAT TURNS IT INTO BLADE RUNNER! Now it looks like a sci-fi city that is WAAAAAAAY less real than Tim Burton's original film (stylized though it was). Why they chose this instead of just a slightly more high-tech Subway/Elevated Train system such as Chicago or New York's is beyond me. Where is the realism in that? And where is that even a good idea, logistically? When does a person need to go from the 18th floor of one building and into the 18th floor of another? Never. So why did they put it in? The ending. Which I'm sure I'll get to later. All in good time.
But for now, back to Katie Holmes. Well, I'll tell you what. Most people that like this movie still hate her character and her acting. It's a given, so I'll just lay off on her for now and get back to her when she really starts to suck. So where are we in the story now? Oh, yeah. Bruce confronts Falcone. Who of course runs the entire city, which is completely corrupt. All in the hands of this one man. A single person. Not a rival gang in sight. If this guy is sooooo powerful that he's capable of taking over an entire city (every Batman comic, cartoon or anything cool enough to deal with the mafia instead of supervillains, always has the intelligence to have competing families), why would he stop there? The man should be the president of the United States. He would literally buy his way into political nobility and spawn the fictional version of G.W.
But, instead he is content with running a single town and pushing around a trust fund baby. And the guy is cocky and showy and doesn't make a single move to conceal his position from the outside world. And the outside world, what? They just ignore that all of this is going on? The feds were all over Capone even way back when. Yet , here's this guy, who owns an entire metropolitan city and the feds don't care. Is there that much money to be made in racketeering that such a thing is possible?
So let's move on a bit. At this point ol' Bruce gives a bum a couple grand AND his coat and beats town, to be thought of as dead for several years. And, of course, there would be a man-hunt, right? They would scour the earth looking for such a prominent person. And they would miss this now loaded bum who's wearing his coat?! They wouldn't pin a murder on him? That bum would've gotten the chair. And you know what? Bruce should've figured on that. Do you know why? Because Bruce Wayne is the most clever man on the planet.
There's a reason that the very first appearance of Batman was in Detective Comics Issue number 27 (a publication that is now up to over 800 issues which from his first appearance contained only Batman stories), he's a detective. He's a man who is capable of out-thinking his opponent's every move. He's the man who, a few year's back, was kicked out of the the Justice League. And the reason was that someone broke into his files and in those files was the weakness to every superhero EVER, and used it to start picking them off, one by one.
We're talking about a man who doesn't have superpowers but can hang with the rest of the superheroes. The guy who CAN take down even Superman. And the reason isn't just because of his gadgets. Which are helpful to be sure (but keep in mind, he's the person that developed these gadgets and knew that there would be a reason to carry them all. See? Smart). The training certainly helps, and it gets him through much. But, it's because he is so bloody brilliant that makes him one of the most powerful superheroes. A genius. But we saw a single solitary instance of this in the film. So, let's move on ahead to that, shall we?
He's wherever in Asia. At this point, I'm wondering where is the amazing movie that the pre-release buzz talked about. Because at this point all it accomplished is being boring and completely missing the point of the character. Also, very, very tired and formulaic writing and shitty dialogue. Maybe it finally becomes great when he gets picked up by Ducard. I'm okay with it so far, hoping that the good part is coming soon.
So, he's training, as he should be, since the comics have always portrayed Bruce as having trained at everything- building up both his mind and his body- since he was 8. So this Bruce has quite a bit of catching up to do if he really wants to become Batman. He's being initiated into this cult. I can't remember the name of it, so we'll call it The Cult with the Lame-Assed Name, or CLAN for short (I totally didn't plan that, but when life gives you awesome...).
Sorry, I just lost my train of thought. That CLAN bit is waaay funnier than I ever am. I'm basking. So, where was I? Ah yes, one of the only good parts of the movie. They show a glimpse of the cunning that Bruce Wayne should embody. He's bloody and wearing the same uniform as everybody else, so he slices up a couple of guards to mask him from his pursuer. So, why should this be something of note? Because it's the only instance of cleverness in the entire movie!
So we're in Asia now, and we've (sort of) met Ra's Al Ghul. And Bruce kills a shit-load of ninjas. Which is NOT his modus operandi. And isn't that exactly what the point of the scene was? That he is unwilling to kill even a criminal. But he has no problem causing the deaths of far more just seconds later. Then he saves Ducard. Good for him. Noble act and all. All is forgiven. You're a good man, Bruce. Really.
At this point, I'd like to breeze off of topic for a bit. A little more Bat-History, so to speak. Ra's Al Ghul translates to the Demon's Head. His character is practically immortal and has been alive thousands of years. Whenever he should feel weakness he goes to a place called the Lazarus Pit (Lazarus, you may know, was one of Jesus' pals, that he was kind enough to bring back from the dead), and becomes rejuvenated. Historically, Ra's has been kind of an eco-terrorist with an anti-humanity agenda. He uses his power and organization to stop the destruction of the earth at the hands of humans, and cares nothing for their lives. He becomes interested in Batman, as a person who should take over for him. "Come, marry my hot daughter, Talia, and carry on my legacy." Batman, of course refuses. And they are at odds with each other from that point on.
I will say at this point, that it doesn't bother me that they have changed his character, as I was never a fan of ol' Ra's. So if they want to make him just some guy that runs CLAN, and even tie him into the origin of Batman, well works for me. I bring this up, both because I want to show that I'm not THAT nit-picky (and I will also admit that the origin of Batman has evolved since his creation in May of 1939, if you don't count the advert in Superman's comic book: Action Comics #11 just one month prior. So really, I can deal with changes to the story-line so long as they don't fudge up the true essence of the character), and also because you asked if his villain's were non-super-human types. Ra's has quite a bit of mysticism involved.
So, back to Gotham. Bruce has become a ninja in just a few scant years. Well, why not? I mean, Japanese ninjas only devote the whole of their lives in training to become perfect stealth warriors. This normal guy could probably pull it off in 6 years' time. So, he's back in town. There is the bit with him taking back control of the company that bears his family's name which, credit where credit's due, was a good sub-plot (and he who hates on Rutger Hauer is no friend of mine). And the worthless playboy image as a facade thing is something that Frank Miller created so well and I enjoyed its return (this actually led to the only 30 seconds of the film that I enjoyed, the bit where he throws everyone in the party out of the house).
Nowhe's playing around with things that his company has developed and makes them his own. I've got no hate about it. It's much too cheeky, though, and a man that devotes EVERY second of his life to fighting crime should be a humorless individual. That's what makes the contrast with the Joker such a legendary one.
But, when he goes out for the first time, fucking A! Here he is just kicking everyone's ass like he'd been doing it forever. There was no psychology involved. He's just kicking the shit out of everybody like he was invincible, as if somebody forgot to tell him that this wasn't a Bruce Lee movie (a little side-note, I prefer Jackie Chan to Bruce Lee, because he's a guy that you always think might not win. He gets the shit kicked out of him and generally just barely manages to make it through. Much more exciting and tense that a Bruce Lee fight). So, old Batty-boy, who's just starting his game is already at the top of it. Takes down the Crime Lord in like two weeks. Isn't Superman STILL trying to take down that bald guy over in Metropolis?
But, let's talk now about something different than the plot for just a moment, shall we? I mean since we're already in the area, let's talk about the fight sequences. What the hell was going on with those scenes? I mean, I swear the only reason that you knew that Batman won of these fights was because he was the last man standing in the end. You can't tell who's attacking who. You can't tell if whichever attacker is punching or kicking or whatever else. You can't tell what part of the body this attacking person is aiming for or even if it was hit or blocked. It was the most confusing mess of fights I've ever seen. Hardly fitting.
And then this whole bit with him striking from the shadows. I'm totally with it. Great idea. He's a frightening guy. But the stupid-ass interrogation bit where he makes Flass go bungee jumping?! "Ooooh, that's scary," as Detroit's own Count Scary used to say (Brian will get it). Lame as hell, and hardly exciting. Now keep in mind, that the criminal element has a disadvantage when facing Batman, since he's more of a mythological nightmare of an idea as opposed to a man. Batman wins automatically the pre-fight psychological battle that the commentator's of a boxing match often talk about. But imagine the conversation between Flass and his buddies after the incident in question:
Buddy: So he did what?!
Flass: Hung me on a retractible strap and would release me and then whip me right back up.
B: So you were bungee jumping?
F: I guess you could say that.
B: And you talked?!
F (sheepishly): Yeah.
B: You pussy.
F: Yeah, I know.
B: Still, it sounds like it might have been kind of fun!
F: Yeah, come to think of it. Looking back it was kind of fun.
F: But you should have heard his voice. It was all spooky like a drunken frat-boy trying to do an impression of Clint Eastwood. He would've scared you into talking, too.
At this point, I would like to go into how much I respect Christian Bale as an actor. When I heard that he had been cast, I nearly pissed myself, I was so happy. Finally, I thought to myself, there is going to be a kick-ass Batman flick! And as Bruce Wayne, Bale is mighty! When he pops on that mask... well, I was ready to go home. I literally wanted to leave the theater. At that point I knew that there was no way the rest of this movie could be salvageable. There was no way that the train-wreck that was the first hour of the movie could be saved, no matter how great the rest of it was. This was a movie that could be nothing more than mediocre. And then the worst thing happened. The second half was thirty times worse. But, I stuck around because, well, i'm a masochist.
And since we're talking about Bale in costume, let's talk about the suit. The only thing keeping this from looking worse than the last entry in the series, was that it didn't have nipples molded onto it. And the mask just couldn't have looked more retarded. I mean, those ears just look wicked dumb. I'll leave this brief and say simply that the costume was every bit as bad as any of the others.
Before I continue, let's look at the scoreboard between this film and the others to see if they fixed what bugged me from previous films:
-Needlessly tying the movie's bad guy into the origin of Batman:
Burton's Batman:yes (remember how the Joker was the one who killed Bruce's parents?)
Batman Begins: yes
-Having a complete wast of space being the romantic interest:
Every Batfilm: yes
Batman Begins: yes
-Ridiculous, slow and unwieldy Costume:
Every Batfilm: yes
Batman Begins: yes
-Shitty Fight scenes:
Every Batfilm: yes
Batman Begins: yes
Look, the only thing that's making this film better than previous ones is that they hired a stable of my favorite actors to play its shitty roles. Which brings me to the complete waste of the most inspired piece of casting: Gary Oldman as James Gordon. All this time I had been expecting Gordon to be an integral part of the movie, complete with subplots (every great Batman story has a Gordon sub-plot. He's the most important non-Bruce Wayne character in all of Batdom). Instead he gets like 4 minutes of screen-time and is reduced to a comic foil?! Irritating! The biggest disappointment of the movie.
We're now moving back into plot territory. And into the waste of one of the greatest Batman villains of all time: The Scarecrow. Why was he wasted? Seriously, there was room for an entire movie centered around this guy. A psychological thriller about the deranged psychologist obsessed with the study of fear. A man who even developed a fear toxin which would intensify the fear in others. It made for amazing episodes on the cartoon. Here he's reduced to being a less popular character's flunky. His only point in the movie was to be just some freaky guy. He was like Bane in Batman & Robin. A useless character only there to move the plot along sort of, but not really. Which brings us back to the scoreboard:
-Multiple Villans in a Batman flick, just because they can:
& Robin: yes
Begins: yes (at least it worked in Returns.)
Scarecrow is stripped away of anything that makes him 3-dimensional. So, that bit that you and every reviewer that goes on about how much more realistic this film is and how it adds dimension to it's characters? I just don't see it. It gives Bruce Wayne a backstory (almost wrote bat-story there), and that's it. This isn't a film that takes the time to give the characters details. It does, however, have time to explain every bit of Bat-Technology, bringing it all into the real world. Or does it? The bits that could have used the most explaining get none at all. First, let's talk about that gadget in Batty's boot. The gizmo that attracts all of the bats to where Batman is. Lifted completely from Batman: Year One by Frank Miller (which owns, by the way. You need to pick it up and it should only be like 10 bucks).
That was the Batman story that they should have shot (and oddly enough, it was the Batman story that were going to shoot back when they had Darren Aronofsky set to direct [the guy who directed Pi and Requiem for a Dream]). At least there, the bat-attracking gizmo got sort-of an explanation:
"Down to the blowgun and its three darts... and an unoffical invention of Wayne Electronics. Haven't tested for this great a distance. Or for use in daylight. Too bad I can't afford to patent it. I'd make a fortune. But then, I already have a fortune... if I didn't, I couldn't have bulit the device. If my family mansion weren't built over a huge cave...the Batcave, I call it. It's full of bats. Extraordinary creatures, bats. Nearly blind...they are sensitive to a range of sound far beyond our hearing. Took me weeks to find an ultrasonic tone that attracts them. All of them."
This flick, no explanation at all. But we're blessed with the knowledge that the hulking mass of body armor was invented for a war.
Let's not also forget the Batmobile's weapons system. You know how it makes you move from a seated position to a position lying on your belly underneath the windshield? My question is: Who's driving then?
While on the subject of the Batmobile (and no, I'm not going to rag on it's tank-like appearance, I didn't really have too much of a problem with that), let's talk about the chase scene. Bruce is carelessly ramming tons and tons of cops. Running over them, flipping them over. ENDANGERING THEIR LIVES. Now, they explain it away afterwards by saying that no one was seriously hurt. Which is the equivalent to in GI Joe, when the Cobra planes would blow up to dust and then you'd see the pilot floating down from a parachute, miraculously unscathed. This Batman doesn't even care about the lives of the cops, when he knows full-well, having met Gordon, that they're not all corrupt. He cares nothing of human life. And sure, he gets brow beaten by Alfred over it, but that wasn't a lesson that he needed to learn again. Remember, back in the Himalayas or wherever, when he was being initiated into CLAN: he wouldn't let a criminal be murdered by his own hand or any others. Yet, now he wantonly dismisses the lives of anyone in his way.
Which brings to mind the bit in Burton's first Batman where Joker says, "You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs. Hee hee" Well said, Mr. J! This new Batman would agree. You guys should go bowling sometime. His voice is hilarious. You'd really like him.
Okay, so Ducard is really Ra's Al Ghul. Yea. The one thing that I will give this movie is this: I had known about this secret for a couple of months. It had already been spoiled for me, and much as I tried, I couldn't forget about it. Yet, the movie was so bad, that while watching it, I was in too much pain witnessing this horrendous movie, that I had forgotten all about that little detail when it was revealed. Great job with the writing there!
So blah, blah, blah, we're poisoning the city's water supply. But it can only be triggered by this weapon that Wayne Corp developed. You probably know what a Deus Ex Machina is. It translates to God in the machine. It's latin for sloppy writing; it's when a problem is miraculously solved when a heretofore unknown device or action saves the day. In a dire situation, it's as if the hand of god fixed the situation. Well, I feel that it works for the bad guys, too. And the entire ending was just a series of those. Sloppy writing to tie up the loose ends, because the writer wasn't clever enough to think his way out of the jams that he had gotten himself into. That Wayne Corp device that dries up all of the water- that was one. And this sets off the Gotham populace with the crazies. But, the city is closed off, so that the United States government doesn't need to get involved. That was another one. And the Tram-line, conveniently created by, and symbolic of, Bruce's pappy: the dumbest one of all. Let's top this off with Ra's getting killed by the crashing Tram-line (thanks to Gordon driving the batmobile?!) which just so happened to take out Wayne Tower just hours after the destruction of Wayne Manor by fire.
A phoenix rebith-y thing. Everything that his father was has been destroyed only to be rebuilt again with Bruce as the city's new savior. Could they have beat this message further into the audience's heads and avoided lawsuits for assault and whiplash from the movie-going public at large?
Then, to top off this tragic finale, he kills Ra's. Killing which had never been something that my Batman would do. And that this Batman continues to forget that he doesn't want to do, either. And the explanation of "I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you" Does that work within anybody's system of ethics? He killed the dude. Plain and simple.
At this point, the movie was pretty much over. It was clear to me that I should have left the theater long ago. But, I stayed, and forced my girlfriend to do the same. And if we weren't at the IMAX where it is logistically impossible to leave in the middle of the movie without great peril to your own person, I would have at least saved us from the agonizing final 5 minutes, that was a rip-off of sorts from the first Spider-Man movie without the sense.
Batman's girly-friend (that he shouldn't have had and couldn't keep because it would kill his playboy image which protects himself, those he cares about and, most importantly, his mission from any of his enemies), now knows his secret (and at this point, who the fuck doesn't?). And he should just be like, um I wouldn't want to be your boyfriend even if you were up for it because it could only get you killed. That's where the ending of the first Spidey made waaaaay more sense over this craptacular flick.
Finally the film ends with another blatant rip-off of Year One, where the Joker is hinted at for the sequel. And to me, this was just like the end to the first Resident Evil flick where the real reason that I liked it was because it hinted at what everybody wanted to see all along (in that case it was the city that had been totally overrun with zombies). It makes me wonder if the real reason people overlook this flick's flaws is because it gives them hope that they'll get what they want in two years' time.
I didn't just dislike this film. It was literally painful for me to sit through it. Moreso painful because I wasted $26 for girlfriend and I to see it at the IMAX when it constantly insulted both of our intelligence at every step. AND like a moron I blew forty bucks on the video game prior to seeing the movie. And the game sucks, too. But that's a whole nother six page rant... read