I saw "Batman Begins" last night and all I can say is "wow!". Of the five modern Batman movies, this is certainly the best and the truest to the comics.
That last remark needs some clarification. Far too many people who have either never read or read only a little of the comics imagine them to be much like the silly 1960s Batman TV show staring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward "Holly squirrle-cage Batman!". To them, Batman is either a figure of fun or, at best, merely a cut-price Superman, fighting for "truth justice and the American way" only without the aid of super-powers. That's not it at all.
The real Batman is a guy mentally and emotionally scarred for life by watching his parents bruttally gunned down in front of him when he was six, who inhabits a city so consumed by crime, corruption, polution and poverty that you really have to wonder whether it is worth saving, he is a obssesive individual who dedicates himself 24/7 to fighting crime, thus shutting himself off from far too many oportunites to enjoy the normal pleasures of friendship and a social life and he dresses as a bat and stalks the dark places not merely to fight criminals but to terrify them, at times he seems little more sane than the psichotic killers that he fights.
So, the movie, Christian Bale, who I don't think I'd ever seen before, gives a stunning showing as Bruce Wayne/ Batman, he brings out the depth, the obsession, the intensity of the Dark Knight.
Katie Holmes, in spite of everything I maintain she can act, gives a solid performance as the crusading Assistant District Attourney, although it's probably the least complex character and least challenging majour role in the film, Micheal Cain is superb as Alfred, bringing out his deep loyalty to Bruce and obvious pride in the young hero, but also real concern at the dangerous course his young master has taken.
Liam Neeson looks nothing like the Ra's Al Ghul of the comics, but is otherwise the very embodiment, of that noble, elequonent, honourable but deeply evil being, although,when we was teaching Bruce to fight I'm certain I caught more than a glimpse of Qui-Gon Jin.
I'm a little more ambivalent about Cillian Murphy's performance as Dr. Jonathan Crane/ Scarecrow. He was very evil, but a little too calculating, a little too sane, and he was obviously doing what he did for money, rather than the pleasure. The Scarecrow of the comics is a man maniacly obsessed with fear who inspieres fear in other for the fun of it, a sort of dark mirror to Batman who inspires fear for the greater good.
I originally had simarlar feelings about Morgan Freeman's portrayl of Lucius Fox. Freeman gave a great performance (dosn't he always) but my initial feeling was that he lacked the style and sophistication of the Fox of the comics. However, the friend with whom I saw the film, made the point that, for most of the film, Fox is in a kind of exile, towards the end, we see the true Lucius emerge.
Taking the film as a whole, the friend I saw it with described it as a good action film full of martial arts, car chases, explosions and the like. The film certainly had all those things, and they were done well, but I think it undersells the film to focus on these things. Batman is ultimatly a tale of character, the interest laying in the complex psychology of the heor and his suporting cast, both good and evil and here is where the film is at its best.
Complaints, I have a few. Batman eventually reveals his true identity to Katie Holmes' character. This was possibly nessecary as a means of resolving the sexual tension between them, but it was still something the comic Batman would never do. Also, where was Harvey Dent? The crusading District Attourney who later (almost Anakin-like) becomes one of Batman's most bitter enemies? But, I guess he would have detracted too much from Holmes.
Overall, the film gets two big thumbs up, not for kids, but otherwise I strongly recomend it.