Archive for the ‘Batman Begins’ Category

Ledger to play Joker

November 8, 2006

So the sequel to Batman Begins will come out in 2008, and Christian Bale and Michael Caine are back on board. Now word comes that Heath Ledger will take on the role of The Joker.

I think he’ll be a pretty good fit. He won’t play him as flamboyantly as Jack Nicholson did, of course, but he’ll make it his own role. The role – as with much of this new series of Batman films – probably should be edgier, grittier… deadlier. In fact, that’s it right there, it should be a rough-edged, blistering performance. Ledger’s a pretty damn good actor – though I didn’t like him in Brokeback Mountain – and he could likely pull it off. I think he has much, much more charisma than Christian Bale, who plays The Cowled One, which is nice symmetry to the 1989 Batman film, in which Michael Keaton basically played second fiddle to the over-the-top Nicholson.

210 – Batman Begins

June 23, 2005

Despite a world of hype and great word of mouth, Batman Begins kind of fizzles, beginning tediously and nearly saving itself with an excellent second half. It’s good, not great, Caped Crusader pulp fiction; better than Batman and Robin and Batman Returns, but not quite as good as the second original Batman.

A well-known comic book character has an albatross around its neck: its own history. Since we know a lot about Batman, the movie about his genesis has to really convince us it’s the same guy – it has to be sincere. Well, Batman Begins is awfully earnest – perhaps much too earnest – and the origins of certain of his trademarks are well explained, but the movie suffers from a noncharismatic lead and a tone that seems more suited to a generic James Bond movie.

Let’s star with Bats himself, Christian Bale. Bale is perhaps best known as the serial killer in American Psycho, and while playing a psychotic might well prepare one for being Batman, he simply doesn’t provide enough oomph to the role. Remember, the role demands that the actor be hidden in a lycra suit for a good deal of the movie, so he has to be expressive with his face, commanding with his voice; a strong presence, in other words. Bale doesn’t quite accomplish any of this – he comes off as more of a poor man’s Tom Cruise, with limited facial expressions and emotions. Plus – and I don’t mean to be unkind here – Bale has a gigantic lightbulb for a head. Bruce Wayne’s supposed to be somewhat suave; I kept looking for the dangly chain to make him light up.

Moving on, we see the highly publicized Katie Holmes as the requisite love interest, Rachel Dawes. Holmes is amusingly miscast, far too much of a lightweight for the role. Her character is supposed to be in her twenties, but poor Katie acts and looks like she’s still in high school. As with Bale, I looked in vain for something – a class ring, in Holmes’ case. At any rate, she’s about as convincing as Chris Farley as the Pope. There’s not much chemistry between her and Bale in the few scenes they share, and she seems like she’s only four lessons into a ten-lesson course of Acting with an A.

Luckily, the supporting gang is quite good; this is what happens when you hire talented veteran talent. The elegant Michael Caine is onboard as Alfred, Bruce’s butler and muse. Caine was born for the veddy proper role, and one can easily see the latter-day Alfred (Michael Gough in the other films) in Caine’s portrayal. Morgan Freeman is Lucius Fox, the scientist who gets Bruce his Cool Gadgets, and Rutger Hauer is the nominal boss of Wayne Enterprises, megalomaniacally trying to take over the company, or something. Hauer’s sort of wasted – any Eurotrash would have done as well in the role. But most of the other major supporting characters are the underwire to the bra of the plot. That’s a good thing, for all you virgin males out there.

Director Christopher Nolan is the guy who gave us Memento and Insomnia, but the trouble here is that there’s nothing Christopher Nolan-like about the movie. Tim Burton’s Batman had Tim Burton written all over it, and that’s one thing that made it as successful as it was. But normally, with movies in a series (for example, the Bond films) it’s not necessary to get a Big Name director to do the deed; you just need someone who will be true to the oeuvre; the Bat universe, in this case. So although it’s nifty that they got the hot Nolan to direct, I don’t think it was necessary.

Batman Begins isn’t badly written at all, but the first half does seem awfully slow. Get to the good stuff, you may whine. Let’s lay off this James Bond crap and get to the avenging-death-of-parents bit. It’s good that we learn why Bruce chose the Batman name, how he came upon his cape and gadgets, where the Batmobile came from, and when the Bat Signal was first used… but we need to see all that mystical be-the-one mumbo jumbo? I felt like I’d stumbled upon an old Mountain Dew commercial.

Batman Begins: **1/2