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June 20, 2005 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-06-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

honday
ue 20, 2005
rts.michigandaily.com
rtspage@michigandaily.com

be cfiditgtu Bail
RTS

9

KNIGHTED
BALE DISAPPEARS INTO NOLAN'S
MASTERFUL 'BATMAN' REIMAGINING

By Evan McGarvey
Daily Arts Editor
All it takes is the first 10 min-
utes of "Batman Begins" - where
a shockingly grizzly Christian Bale
fights off a dozen men in a rural
Chinese prison courtyard, mud
streaking his face, the sky cov-
ered in steely grays and washed-
out blues - to make the audience
forget a series of corpulent, pee-
vishly Technicolor Joel Schum-
acher-helmed Batman McMovies
and submit to director Christopher
Nolan's rejuvenating, grimy and
psychological take on America's
most emblematic hero.
Bale ("American Psycho"), with a
diamond-cut jaw
line and perfect
WASP features, was
born to play Bruce
Wayne. While his
voice as Batman
doesn't reach
the dark heights
of Michael
Keaton's origi-
nal take, Bale

simply looks exactly as we'd imagine
Bruce Wayne - afterall, Bale has done
idle yet deeply flawed rich kid before.
For those of us who were denied
the singular pleasure of Batman
comics by our parents, here's an
unjustly quick primer: Gotham
City is Amer-
ica's largest
metropolis with Batman
a beyond-seedy Begins
underbelly. Nice, At the Showcase
old money, phil- and Quality 16
anthropic Wayne
family goes to Wamer Bros.
opera. Mom and
Dad are killed by a mugger. Son
watches parents die, spends for-
mative years on a spiritual quest
in Europe and Asia complete with
martial arts training and general
trust-fund spending. Boy returns to
Gotham, Puts on big, black rubber
suit, redirects newfound thirst for
vengeance and decides the only way
to clean up his fair city is to catch
the criminals that the corrupt city
police are too lazy to catch.
Phew. Thirty-plus years of Amer-
ica's greatest comic book in a single
paragraph.

Bet you're not going to make fun of that kid for wearing a cape to class anymore.

One" (on which David S. Goyer and
Nolan's admirable script is loosely
based), makes a fine introduction,
but many watchers might find it
an even more compelling purchase
after seeing the film.
Nolan gets infinite credit for
not surrounding Bale with random
ingenues but instead leaning on a
bevy of fantastic actors.
Gary Oldman ("Harry Potter and
the Prisoner of Azkaban"), with his
finest performance in recent memory,
nails the dually idealistic and battle-
hardened Lieutenant Gordon. Michael
Caine ("Secondhand Lions") is a
stately Alfred Pennyworth, loyal butler
and eventual co-conspirator to Bruce
Wayne. Mob boss Carmine Falcone, the
thinnest part of the villains, still man-
ages to come to weary, casually violent
life thanks to Tom Wilkinson ("Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind").
And lest we forget the Scarecrow.
Cillian Murphy, previously seen
fighting a Zombie-infested Europe

(no, they weren't bored kids study-
ing abroad) in "28 Days Later," not
only gets the best costume in hero-
movie history, but genuinely disqui-
ets everyone he touches on film.
With his macabre burlap-patch-
work mask and canisters of hallucino-
genic toxin lurking under the guise of
psychiatrist Jonathan Crane, Murphy
doesn't just chew scenery - he mali-
ciously chomps it. If Nolan has any
one major fault in plotting, it's giving
too much weight to a more standard,
grand-destruction plot (dutifully car-
ried by Liam Neeson and Ken Wata-
nabe) and not enough screen time to
Murphy's gleefully warped mental
health professional/villain.
Fitting for the plot's emphasis

on Gotham's disparity of wealth,
the scenery looks like a mash-up
of Hong Kong's skyscrapers and
slums and Los Angeles's sprawl,
all topped off with a post-industri-
al shade straight from Detroit. The
technology is reasonable, the stock
bad guys frighteningly everyday
and the most gloomy character is
Bale's Batman. It's not enough that
he looks like he should be Batman;
it's clear he genuinely wants to
become Batman.
Refreshing how after four mov-
ies stuffed with action-figure rep-
etition, Bale looks like a fan. And
hey, with fans like Bale and Nolan,
how could anyone think this movie
could've gone wrong?

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