Thursday, June 16, 2005

Holy IMAX, Batman!

[Jun. 16th, 2005|02:29 pm]

Last night, markosf (and half of his LJ friends), along with a sold out crowd and I went to "Batman Begins" at the Metreon, in the 'IMAX Experience' version.

First off, Christopher Nolan has done a spectacular job! Even though this is only his third film [oops! EDITED: it's his FOURTH film! I forgot about "Insomnia"], he has already begun a 'signature style' as it were. He films paranoia fabulously! His flashback/dream/nightmare/hallucination sequences are wonderfully executed. In this, everyone is paranoid of something. (Well, everyone except for couple of villains.) But what I found most exciting and disturbing at the same time, was how he was able to turn Batman into something of a 'creature' to be feared. I was feeling suspense FOR the thugs at one point! Nolan's camera work and editing were a BIT heavyhanded at times, but that could have actually had more to do with seeing it in IMAX than had it been regular 35mm. (FYI, the 'IMAX Experience' version of this is more of a blown up 35mm. It is letterboxed to fit the screen. harumph.)

I'm not a 'Bat-aholic' so I can only remark on the screenplay as viewed and not compare it to the canon of the comic. It's an odd thing, really. It's GREAT during its most ambivalent moments! However, when 'goodness' appears (most specifically, Bruce Wayne's parents), it just falls flat. In the case of Liam Neeson's character, I don't know which would be more at fault: the actor or the script. Or perhaps I just find him way too stiff in almost everything he does. ("Love Actually" was probably as loose as he will ever be.) He was still in "Star Wars" mode or something. I dunno. I just wish he would enjoy himself! Anyway, I digress... The script does a wonderful job of analyzing 'justice and revenge' and those who find themselves caught between those two ideals. Overall, loved the script!

The performances are exceptional, of course. I mean, LOOK at that cast! Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Rutger Hauer, Tom Wilkinson! And they are just the supporting cast! Christian Bale is quite nice to look at, and he plays the whole 'Hamlet' ambiguity quite well. I only had a couple MINOR reservations. One, his voice is a bit forced when he is en masque. It does have a couple of extremely effective moments, but there were more moments when he seemed uncomfortable speaking that low. Two, and this is not really his fault, but with his face blown up to IMAX proportions, he really should have that little mole between his right eye and his nose removed. I know, I know, how PETTY can I get?!? But, it was a couple of feet big when projected to that size and I found it oddly distracting. Other than that, he is back into physically outstanding shape. (Yes, we get a couple gratuitous beefcake shots of him in bed.)

Katie Holmes is fine. She's not really required to do much here. Michael Caine is outstanding! He actually choked me up at one point! Freeman, Oldman, Hauer and Wilkinson are all quite good, though you can tell that this is not a stretch for any of them. But at least they are ENJOYING themselves! (Note to Neeson, please!) And Cillian Murphy is quite creepy/sexy as the evil Dr. Kane!

The production design of Gotham City is quite cool! The rest of it is fairly standard 'wet alleys and caves' fare. The soundtrack had some great moments. Oddly enough, it is credited to both Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. I don't know quite how that happens, but... The special effects were not of the overtly obvious (i.e. "Spider Man") variety. I was never distracted by the shot.

Overall, I REALLY enjoyed this! I think it might rejuvenate the franchise. Though I do not know if Christopher Nolan would be one to continue it. If not, we could end up back with a Schumacher debacle...

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