While Tim Burton’s Batman movies in the 1990’s were visually stunning (and Michael Keaton’s turn as Bruce Wayne still enjoyable), director Christopher Nolan (Memento) gave the man in the bat cape a much-needed make-over for Batman Begins. Gotham City is a true hellhole here (yes, that means this Batman is not suitable for younger viewers), but the story does not focus so much on the millionaire and his secret nocturnal activities, instead going back to find the explanation for Bruce’s (Bale) need to wear a tight leather outfit and fight crime.
It’s almost an hour in before we see the Bat man, but that’s no loss, as before that we discover how he was traumatised after falling into a well on the family estate that is inhabited by bats (surely if they freaked him out so much he would have chosen another secret identity instead, like soft-fuzzy-kitty-man? Or maybe not.) We also learn about his childhood friend Rachel (Katie Holmes as the adult version, the movie’s only weak link), the murder of his parents and his raising by nice butler Alfred (the terrifically cast Caine) and a side trip to Asia that lands Bruce in a nasty prison where he is rescued by the mysterious Ducard (Neeson).
All this back-story is in danger of feeling a bit slow to fans of faster-paced films like X-Men, but things pick up when our now grown-up (and very muscular) hero returns home to kick some bad guy butt. Stunning to look at, and well played by Bale, this is a super prelude to the even better The Dark Knight.
Is Batman Begins suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This is a very dark movie, aimed at teenagers and adults but not the under-12s.
The 12A certificate was given mainly for the violence in the movie, but there are scary bits, too, including Bruce’s fall into the well as a child, the death of his parents, the scenes in Arkham Asylum and those featuring bad guy The Scarecrow.