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Batman Begins Christopher Nolan
Batman Begins Batman Begins is a welcome reboot of the Batman franchise. In a departure from the comic-book nature of the previous silver screen series,

As the title suggests, this is an origins story. It covers Bruce Wayne's fear of bats and the death of his parents (Linus Roache and Sara Stewart as Thomas and Martha Wayne). In this version young Bruce Wayne attempts to avenge his father but is thwarted when crime lord Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) has Joe Chill (Richard Brake) murdered for snitching. Wayne then leaves Gotham to travel the world learning about the criminal element. In his travels he meets Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) who recruits him to his League of Shadows, an organization initially thought to fight corruption. Here is where Wayne becomes skilled in martial arts. It is also here where Wayne commits himself to cleaning Gotham.

What I liked about this movie is Batman is so raw. It really is "Batman begins". He starts with almost nothing. With the help of Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman) down in the basement of Wayne Enterprises, he builds what is to become the bat suit from technology that never made it to market. Fox and his Applied Science Division become a sort of skunk works for Wayne. He starts with the aforementioned survival suit, then orders Kevlar gloves, a memory fiber cape for gliding, and a grappling gun. Finally Fox introduces him to "The Tumbler", a low riding armored car that becomes the Batmobile.

He later builds the Bat cave with his staunchest ally, his butler Alfred (played perfectly by Michael Caine). More importantly, he builds his image as Bruce Wayne, a rich uncaring playboy, to keep his identity as Batman a secret. As Batman he approaches James Gordon (Gary Oldman is great in an understated way) to build an alliance with one of the few straight cops in Gotham. We are also introduced to Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes). The film is building the canon of Batman.

For most of the action is hand-to-hand combat, not big time special effects. The physical stunts feel real because the film-makers don't make them appear easy and don't leave Batman without scars. Jumping between buildings almost kills Batman several times. Fights leave him bruised. Fires leave him burned. For now, Batman is a vigilante. It will take practice to become a superhero. And even when that happens, it's clear that - as has always been the case with Batman - it will be science, skill, and strength - not super powers - that bring him victory.

The climactic action scene, in which Batman fights Ra's al Ghul on an elevated train, wasn't the most grand action scene in film history, but it still felt too big given the dark, physically intense nature of the action for most of the film. While the movie is certainly carefully crafted, the look of Batman Begins is one that almost eschews polish.

It even looks like Batman is starting off small. He's taking on Falcone, the most powerful crime lord in Gotham. Falcone isn't the typical super villain we think of Batman fighting. Sure, he's dangerous. He's got an army of thugs and he's paid off cops, politicians, and judges all over the city. But he's a run of the mill criminal out for money and power. It is Ra's al Ghul and his League of Shadows that are more like the type of enemy Batman faces. Batman battles villains with a cause, bad guys out for revenge, and psychopaths out to destroy things for fun. Wayne escaped the League of Shadows when he learned of their intent to destroy the admittedly corrupt Gotham. But it turns out they followed him, and the man he thought to be his mentor is actually the mastermind of the plot to destroy Gotham. Ghul and his ally Dr. Crane, a mad scientist type who uses neurotoxins as weapons, are the type of villain Batman is used to facing. The revelation that it is these characters we should fear is a great twist and escalates the danger in the plot.
 
140 minutes
This product was released around June 2005
I consumed this around 2006, January 2014
More: Batman Begins
Posted by: Jeff Egnaczyk at: 3/2/2014 2:41:18 PM
 
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Inception Christopher Nolan
Inception Inception is the most innovative idea I've seen in a film since The Matrix. Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) steal information by infiltrating the minds of their subjects. Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe, an actor I always seem to like) wants something different though. He wants to plant an idea in the mind of one of his competitors. "Inception" as it is called is thought to be impossible though, as the conscious mind of the subject would be able to figure out it was tricked. Dom and Arthur will try to surpass this hurdle by building a three-layer dream instead of the normal two.

The film is certainly complicated, but because I knew it was confusing I paid more attention to it than I have for any film in recent memory. As a result I understood what was going on and had a great time. Inception is the combination of a movie you have to think about and a action-packed heist movie. While I wasn't nit-picking, I didn't see any obvious inconsistencies. I only found one part to be to contrived. Normally, if a person dies in a dream they wake up. However, because of the high sedation needed to complete the "inception", any death in this three-layered dream could result in a "limbo" state where the dead spy can't wake up. I hardly cared given all the other well thought out sequences. One particular turn I liked was how the subject, Robert Michael Fischer (Cillian Murphy), had his mind prepped against such espionage, so that when the team entered it was attacked.

DiCaprio is great and I loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt because he's all grown up and even has a zero-gravity fight scene. Dom and Arthur can't do it alone though, and the cast they assemble adds a great deal to the movie. Tom Hardy is devilish as Eames the forger. Ken Watanabe is solid as Mr. Saito as is Ellen Page as Ariadne. Dileep Rao was interesting as the chemist Yusuf.

The special effects, especially the dream scenery, was amazing. I'll note again that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's fight scene was awesome, and probably got a bump in my mind because I kept thinking of him as Tommy from 3rd Rock from the Sun.
 
148 minutes
This product was released around July 2010
I consumed this around 2011
More: Inception
Posted by: Jeff Egnaczyk at: 9/6/2011 10:22:49 PM
 
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