17 July 2005

Bale is a great Batman

So we went to see "Batman Begins" this last weekend, and I walked out pretty damn impressed.
I decided it was the best comic-book-adapted movie I've ever seen.
It sounds like I'm damning with faint praise, I know, but considering it must be tough to create an original story around the time-worn conventions and backstory that come with comic book heroes, I think they did a great job. Looking at Metacritic, I see that the reviews are mostly favorable, but ranging from enraptured to disappointed. Here's what I liked about the movie:

  • It seemed less cartoony, and more real, than other comic book adaptations. The Batmobile is like a tank. Christian Bale's Batman gets injured and makes mistakes. People go insane and die in this movie.
  • Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are wonderfully understated actors. The whole movie has a deadpan sense of humor.
  • Cillian Murphy and Gary Oldman also deliver nice low-key performances. It's great when a movie has the confidence to pepper the supporting cast with good actors and have them be quietly creepy (Murphy) and melancholic (Oldman), with no hamming it up with one-liners.
  • The outdoor scenes in the movie were shot in Chicago, and I recognized a lot of it. The car chase in Lower Wacker, the bridges over the Chicago River, the skyscrapers and the downtown canyons -- all very enjoyable to me since I used to live there. Even the futuristic public transport was cool and reminiscent of the el.
  • Best of all: Liam Neeson's salt-and-pepper fu-goat is tremendous. I so want to be him.

It's not perfect ... my biggest bitch is that (as the reviewer in the Dallas Observer noted) Katie Holmes doesn't come close to having the gravitas to pull off the role of a district attorney. That cute pixie face has carried her a loooooooong way. But the movie still rocked, and I'm looking forward to more.

(Speaking of pixie-faced brunettes, we watched "Garden State" recently on DVD. I thought the movie was pretty good, and again my biggest complaint was the love interest. Natalie Portman just wasn't believeable in the irresponsible-mysterious-but-loveable local girl role. I don't know who I would have preferred there ... Drew Barrymore maybe? I have to watch "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" again to see if Juliette Lewis pulls it off. I'm sure it's a delicate balancing act, this role, but if I watch the movie and keep thinking "Jesus this girl is annoying", then any romantic chemistry is shot to hell.)


At 30 July, 2005 23:05, Anonymous M said...

We _saw_ it in Chicago. Ha! Um, but yeah, we were kinda thinking some of the shots looked familiar. Then you are debating it afterwards and your instinct is to check IMDB or Google it, but YOU HAVE NO INTERNET ACCESS! Gah. So we checked it out when we got back to Amsterdam...

At 03 August, 2005 21:18, Blogger contrarybear said...

I had to check right after the movie.
I definitely LOOKED Chicagoish to me, and I had to make sure it wasn't some other city PRETENDING to be Chicago.


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