Pick Your Pop Culture

So, I've like written about music for 25 years, and like I've got a lot to say and not enough people to pay me for it, and like I like to write about TV, and books, and movies, and stuff like that.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Beginning Batman

Understand, it was my idea to convince my wife and our friends to go see “Batman Begins” last night. The other option was to see “War of the Worlds,” showing at the Moolah, which I have previously mentioned is the greatest movie theater in town. But, I hate Steven Speilberg, everybody hates Tom Cruise, and Stuart Klawans, my favorite movie critic, had such good things to say about “Batman Begins.”

So, this morning, I feel a little guilty. Not that anybody hated it. But, nobody liked it, either. You sit through this movie, and you come out the other side thinking, “Well, that was a couple hours, wasn’t it?”

Christian Bales makes for a decent Bruce Wayne, and what little he gets to do outside the CGI computer programming as Batman was pretty good. Although, as my friend Deb instantly adapted his ultra-low frequency vocal approach when wearing the cowl, it was silly to hear him speak most of the time.

I think they tried to do too much in this movie. There was the origin story, the explicit commentary on the nature of fear, the use of two relatively obscure villains in separate plots, the intrigue of Gotham City’s corrupt political and law-enforcement regimes, the machinations of Wayne Enterprises Board of Directors, and a love story. That’s a lot to pack into two hours, especially since about one and a half of those hours are taken up with slam-banging action sequences shot with some of the most frenetic jump-cuts and you-are-getting-your-face-kicked-in perspectives I’ve ever seen.

It was all too much, because nothing was developed enough to make me care what was happening. Oh, yeah, it was cool seeing Batman float through the air with his super long cape rustling in the wind like a parachute, and the Batmobile roared through town with some excitement. But, when the big threat is that pressure is building up in the water pipes of town, with the potential of them bursting and thus delivering a potent formula which induces paralyzing fear in all who breathe it, well, let’s just say you don’t gain much by not playing it all for laughs.

The origin sequence, despite merging the tale I remember of Marvel Comics 70s kung fu hero Iron Fist with the long-familiar basics of the Caped Crusader’s early days, was probably the most interesting part of the movie. I say this fully aware that normally I hate origin sequences, because I’m far more interested in seeing what the super heroes are going to do rather than in some crazy-ass justification for their ability to do it. But, I think this part of the movie worked because it was less cluttered. Batman doesn’t need to be overly complicated.

I’m glad I saw it, but I still feel as though I owe Cat, Deb, Roy, and Dana something of an apology.


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