Batman in Theaters Part 3 – The Nolan films

And finally, we have come to the Christopher Nolan films, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.  Without a doubt, these are my favorite.

Batman Begins (2005)
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer
Starring
Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne
Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth
Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard
Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes
Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox
Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon
Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow

After watching the death of his parents, Bruce Wayne decides to fight crime, and is taught by Henri Ducard.  In Gotham, he must deal with the mob and the Scarecrow’s fear gas.

Specifically to this movie, the only really bad thing I have to say about it is that Katie Holmes was awful.  In the middle of a bunch of pretty good actors, she stuck out like a bad cliche.  It really is sad.  The opposite of Katie Holmes was Liam Neeson.  I greatly enjoyed his performance, and the revelation at the end was perfectly played.  I sat through the beginning thinking that Neeson would have made a great Ra’s Al Ghul.  But I never thought that a trick was going to be played because Henri Ducard is an actual character that plays a role in Batman’s origin.  It was a brilliant ploy. 

The Dark Knight (2008)
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer
Starring
Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne
Heath Ledger as The Joker
Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face
Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes
Gary Oldman as Lt. Jim Gordon

Batman, Harvey Dent, and Jim Gordon wage war on the mob, who take The Joker up on his offer to eliminate the Batman.  Joker brings chaos to Gotham as he goes after Batman and Harvey Dent.

You can’t mention this movie without commenting on the Academy Award winning performance by the late Heath Ledger.  It was just a phenomenal, chilling performance.  After seeing it with someone, that person commented that during the movie, they had completely forgotten who was playing the Joker.  All they saw was the Joker.  But let’s not forget Aaron Eckhart performance as Harvey Dent/Two-Face.  It was quite good as well.  As the movie progresses, you can see Harvey Dent go from the white knight to someone that is broken and permanently scarred by the end.  The presence of his lucky, double sided, coin was a very nice touch.

Overall, these are the realistic Batman movies that I’ve always wanted to see.  I can believe that Batman actually exists and this is the world as it actually is.

The mainstay actors have all done a fantastic job.  Yes, plenty of people have made fun of Christian Bale’s Batman voice, but at least he tried.  That’s more than the last couple of people who played Batman can say.  (Michael Keaton is the exception.)  And he does a good job with the Bruce Wayne persona.  Gary Oldman makes a good Commissioner Gordon.  Of course, Pat Hingle never really got the chance to do anything with the character.  I quite enjoy the way Michael Caine plays Alfred.  It’s how you’d expect him to be after raising Bruce from the age of 8.  And then there’s Morgan Freeman, who has done well playing Q, I mean Lucius Fox.  Yes, they’ve essentially made the character into Q, but it’s more believable than Bruce inventing everything on his own.

More importantly, these movies reestablished the idea that you can make quality Batman movies.  Possibly even, that you could make realistic superhero movies.  After Batman & Robin, the Batman franchise had taken a hit.  There’s a reason that there was 8 years between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins, and it’s not because they simply wanted to take some time off.  They needed that time for people to forget about Batman & Robin, and hope that they would take a chance on this new Batman movie.  And Batman Begins was a risk.  Here was a fairly unknown director, and you’re giving him your biggest franchise.  Sure, we all know who Christopher Nolan is now, but prior to Batman Begins he had only directed Following, Memento, and Insomnia.  Only Memento had any type of success, and that was entirely in the form of acclaim from critics.   So, Nolan was a risky bet, but he is a bet that has paid off well.

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