Film begins with little Bruce Wayne falling down a well full of bats, getting attacked by them (not hurt in any way, mind you), then forming a life long fear of bats. So I guess that's significant and gee, I wonder why he would become Batman if he hates bats? Let's find out.
We meet his parents. The mother is a mute as far as I can tell but the father (nicely performed by Linus Roache) is like, the Best Dad Ever – super duper rich, a doctor, philanthropist, nice person, and he loves Bruce to bits.
Family outing to the opera but there's a terrifying bit in it with some bat like costumes and Bruce insists they leave early. Bad move. Outside, they get attacked by a mugger with a gun and the dad's all, "take it easy, take it easy." Then I'm not sure exactly what happened next but there were a couple of gun shots, and whoa, the 'rents are both dead. And Bruce is standing there, lip quivering, brow furrowed – he looks kind of upset.
Okay, this is meant to be the turning point in Bruce's life, right? The *reason* he becomes a kick ass vigilante. Call me crazy, but if I were directing, I would have, you know, made that scene, like, *emotional* or something. I would have gone all Brian de Palma and done a Carrie - you know the bit where she gets the pig's blood poured on her, and he takes *forever* to get to it, building up the tension like it's going out of fashion. Yes, we *know* what's going to happen, but it's totally heart stopping anyway. So I would have spent a bit of time on the most significant thing to ever happen to Bruce. Made it actually *mean* something beyond "convenient plot device". But whatever, moving on.
Bruce grows up to become a miserable depressive, hell bent on revenge, but Katie Holmes, his non-girlfriend and Gotham D.A., tells him off and slaps him, so he decides to do the Right Thing and visit Gotham's criminal big wig, Tom Wilkinson and tell him, "I'm not afraid of you!" Great, Brucie, what's your point? Wilkinson chews some scenery and tells Bruce he could kill him in front of everyone in the bar and get away with it because he's That Powerful and Bruce has no chance against him because he's just a rich boy with no understanding of the underworld etc, although his pluckiness is impressive. Clearly, there's something foul going on in the state of Gotham and clearly somebody needs to fix it up good. Somebody must stand up to these evil thugs. Somebody who *understands* them.
Next there's a bunch of crap about Bruce going away for 8 years to try and "understand the criminal mind" and this is when Liam Neeson turns up, as the mysterious Ducard. Frankly, I'd happily never see Liam Neeson in another film. He has about as much presence as a brick and listening to him bang on about fear and conquering your fear and what *are* you afraid of, Bruce, and you get the picture... just made me sleepy. Oh, so I guess fear is the main theme of this film. Not the worst theme ever, but with a script this shit, really not that interesting.
Bruce learns to fight in a series of boring scenes with Ducard and then we find out that Bruce is a Good Man because he refuses to kill people. Although, he does torch the place, inadvertantly killing at least one person. Then, maybe to make up for it, he saves Ducard's life.
Moving back to Gotham (which looks like any old city bar the groovy mono-rail) and things begin to kick off. With the help of Morgan Freeman (as some kind of inventor, I think, who works for Wayne Industries) and Alfred (Michael Caine) Bruce transforms himself into Batman. He learnt a lot from Ducard, obviously, because he chooses to become the thing he fears the most. Yawn.
There's some plot stuff involving drug smuggling, Tom Wilkinson and a guy called the Scarecrow (played by Cillian Murphy from 28 Days Later, who's fucking hot and actually quite creepy), a lost weapon and some gas that makes people crazy, blah, a few scrappy action scenes and then Liam Neeson comes back and. No, really? Oh yes, he's the Bad Guy, who wants to destroy Gotham. Apparently in order to save it, although by this point, I'd given up trying to understand the rampantly stupid plot.
The Batmobile, ha, is a *tank*. Yes, that's right. A TANK. And not a sexy tank either. The bat costume is okay, but is it just me, or does everyone else miss Michael Keaton? I loved Micahel Keaton's Batman. I even had a dream last night where he and CB squared off with each other and MK was *pissed*, quite rightly. I woke up before I could find out what happened, but I bet he would have won their fight (depsite CB's youth and hot body). I mean, Bale is alright, I guess - better than Clooney and Val put together - but he does this thing with his voice whenever he's Batman, this gravelly, weird thing, that kind of freaked me out (in a bad way). Plus, he's just not sexy enough.
Of the rest of the A-list cast, Gary Oldman is my favourite, mostly because I didn't even recognise him, and I have *never* seen him play someone so... normal. I also liked Rutger Hauer because I always sort of like him even though his range is limited. Here, he was a lot like Morgan Edge from Smallville, but not as menacing.
There's been a crap load of hype about this film, people raving about it because it's "dark". Yeah, well that's bullshit. It's not dark. It's too shallow to be genuinely dark. Too souless to get under your skin. Too retarded to make you actually *think*. There isn't a single thing about it that I really loved. Some things I quite liked (Bruce acting drunk and kicking everyone out of his birthday party by calling them freeloaders and other mean things), some things I tolerated, and a lot of things I hated. I mean, yeah, the fans of the comic seem delighted, but personally, as a fan of *film*, I think they were hard done by.
And now they're going to make sequels galore because it's been such a hit at the box office. Neat. Hopefully they'll pick a director for the next one who understands action and who brings back the camp (for fuck's sake, it's *Batman*. It's supposed to be fun and gay and sexy as well as dark and scary). Robert Rodriguez would be a great choice. I can just see his take on Batman: imaginative, visually exciting and beautiful, sexy, funny, dark, different and cool as fuck.
For real reviews, go here: http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/b