May I just please ask...who the hell decided, against all visible evidence, that Batman Begins is a "good" movie?
Yahoo movies reports that critics and fans averaged it at a B+.
With all the generosity in my heart, I could perhaps give it a C+.
First, what I liked. Some of the acting was good. Liam Neeson is a brilliant actor. He handled stiff and stupid dialogue like it was Shakespeare. I also liked Cillian Murphy's Dr. Crane/Scarecrow. The guy is absolutely fascinating to look at and listen to. He had a thousand times the charisma of Christian Bale, but I'll get to insulting Mr. Bale in a moment. Michael Caine had a great time using his own working-class accent and hamming it up as the ever-faithful yet never martyrish Alfred.
Some of the superhero stuff was fun. Who wouldn't want to fly like Batman in his uber-groovy cape made with the fab high-tech material that was invented but for some reason hidden away and left right there for Bruce to take from the totally rad lab run by the underdog token Morgan Freeman. Oops, sorry. This was supposed to be the good bits. How about this: I like the idea of having my own trained bat swarm.
On the neither-good-nor-bad but worthy of commentary side, let me note that the film was pretty interesting to me in its homage (intentional or not) to 1980s hypermasculinity. It's been some time since I've seen the formula played out. From the limited number and scope of female characters to the male bonding to the ultraviolence to the token black man, this film just brought back the Reagan era for me. (Not that I wanted to go back there, but the present with W. is its own horror flick.) Bruce's mom didn't even get to talk to him, while Dad (and Dad-surrogate Alfred) offered such delightfully macho boys-don't-cry tidbits as the slogan "Why do we fall? So that we learn to pick ourselves up." One joy in this is that because this is '05 and not '85, the lone Black man doesn't have to get killed (cf. Terminator): he gets to be CEO (oh thank you, rich white boy Bruce Wayne from whom all good things commence!).
You've had the wind-up, now the pitch: Batman Begins was just really truly awful, in almost every way. Bad pacing, bad editing, bad dialogue, overlong pointless unoriginal chase scene (no, the car wasn't THAT cool), and horrid, wretched, flat-affect un-acting by Christian Bale. We should blame the director here, especially if he had any hand in casting CB. That this dreck was from Christopher Nolan, whose Memento is a superb and original flick that made me think the man might be destined for auteur studies someday, left me feeling dazed and confused. When it was all over, I shook my head, thinking how much I liked Memento and wondering how a good director could do such crap work, and why no one seems to have noticed that Batman Beyond lacked originality, a good plot, or various other elements one usually deems praiseworthy in a film.
I know part of the problem is the subject matter. I'm simply over the whole superhero film genre. With the exception of the X-Men films which, while sexist and racist, were engaging, I've found the rest of the lot pretty dull and weak. (I'll write about the genre itself elsewhere, including all the PG-13 ratings that mean little kids can't see them while production companies use their images and hip appeal to advertise everything from bandaids to breakfast cereal, not to mention their repetitive, effects-heavy approach to everything from action scenes to costumes to sets.) And superhero comics can be particularly problematic to make into live-action because they try to combine true shock and pathos (little Bruce watching his parents get shot before his very eyes) with cartoonish gadgets and tricks (how exactly did he suddenly psychically bond with bats and why does the corn-starch-like cape material actually let him fly)?
I'll stop now, as I'm almost spent, but let me offer one final lamentation: it was really painful watching Rutger Hauer playing a boring old rich fart. Not saying the man could ever act, but he got to play neither villain nor even sidekick! And as an evil CEO, he wasn't even scary, just a minor greedy typical exec. who could have phoned it in.
In the end, I'll take Shark Boy and Lava Girl, thanks.