Batman Begins ★★★★½

Why did the Batman franchise fall? So that it could learn to pick itself up! And it did! IT REALLY DID!!!

After the franchise that began with Tim Burton's Batman in 1989 hit an absolute dead end with Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin in 1997, Warner Bros. decided to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch, all over again. And in their effort to recreate the saga of the Caped Crusader from the ground up with a more realistic approach, they didn't only get everything right but also ended up setting an all-new benchmark for superhero origin stories to follow.

Batman Begins is a complete reboot of the Batman film franchise and has no relation whatsoever with any of the films that came before it. It's a fresh start that takes its premise far more seriously than ever before, aims for a much darker & realistic tone, and by offering a better insight into the life of Bruce Wayne and what motivated him to become a symbol, this action thriller makes the existence of Batman much more logical.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, the film employs a non-linear structure to narrate its story and is expertly crafted from start to finish. Written by David S. Goyer, it's pleasing to find that both him & Nolan envisioned this origin story as an action thriller first and a superhero film later. And the end result is a product that's not just brooding, dark & serious but also exciting & smart. Plus, the technical craftsmanship & excellent casting further magnifies the experience to a great extent.

Production design is highly impressive, for Gotham looks incredibly grim, inhospitable & in state of decay, just the way it's supposed to be. Cinematography encapsulates the whole picture with a darker tone while also capturing some breathtaking moments in a clear, concise manner. Editing provides a smooth flow to its non-chronological arrangement, and beautifully paces its nearly 2½ hours runtime considering that the film never feels dull or boring despite featuring no Batman during the first hour or so.

Visual effects wonderfully enhance the film's overall presentation. However, the use of CGI is minimum as the director incorporates greater use of traditional stunt work which brings realism of its own. Use of sound also feels pretty authentic. And the score by Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard is just perfect in my opinion, for it does a stellar job at driving the viewers' emotions by further elevating the mood or amplifying the tension without ever overdoing any of it.

Coming to the performances, Batman Begins features a highly impressive cast in Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Ken Watanabe & Katie Holmes. And apart from the last two, everyone chips in with amazing performances. Both in & out of the suit, Bale owns his character of Bruce Wayne unlike anyone before and delivers a charming yet strong performance. Caine is in as Alfred, Bruce's butler, and his rapport with Bruce is a treat to watch.

Gary Oldman seamlessly immerses into the role of Sgt. Gordon, Morgan Freeman captures Luscious Fox with elegance, Liam Neeson as Bruce's mentor plays his character with sheer brilliance, Cillian Murphy is quite menacing as Dr. Crane, Ken Watanabe is wasted in his cameo, and Katie Holmes as Rachel is passable. The only complaint I have from this film is how the action scenes are shot, for it is often difficult to make out who's hitting whom. Nolan's inexperience with the genre might be responsible for that but it's admirable to find out just how much he improved in that aspect in the sequel.

On an overall scale, Batman Begins is a highly gripping, extremely entertaining & immensely satisfying cinema that feels more like a quality psychological thriller that simply happens to have Batman in it. There are enough memorable moments in the picture for it to qualify as an instant classic and a wonderful thing I've discovered is that it only gets better on multiple viewings. It's the film Batman fans always wanted but it's going to be equally exciting & awesome for newcomers as well.

The motion picture whose critical & commercial success led to a reboot revolution for numerous franchises in Hollywood, Batman Begins marks the resurrection of Batman on silver screen in grand style and this time, he's better than ever before. One of my all-time favourites, one of Christopher Nolan's finest, and a genre-defining masterpiece in every sense of the word, Batman Begins is the Batman film we always deserved & dearly needed. Don't miss it.

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