New 'Batman' is superstar of superheroes

Published 8:26 am Monday, June 27, 2005

Who wants to see another Batman movie? These were my sentiments exactly. As it turns out, my sentiment was wrong. To my surprise, Batman Begins is a superstar in a stream of movies about this popular superhero.
In this film directed by Christopher Nolan, there are no dialogue balloons with childish phrases such as "ZAP" and "BOOM" like the television series of long ago. There is also no trusty sidekick Robin.
The movie does include dialogue that is thoughtful and characters who are meaningful. Most importantly, there is a storyline that makes this superhero, at the very least, semi-plausible.
The plot begins with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) running away from his depressing past. Both his parents were murdered by a thug on the streets of Gotham; a tragedy with which he was never at peace. Through flashbacks to his childhood and restless adolescence, the story unfolds as to why Wayne became Batman in the first place. No pun on words, the title of the movie is literal and refers to the beginning of Batman's existence.
After returning to Gotham with the purpose of fighting crime, Wayne – now trained in multiple disciplines of martial arts and fighting tactics – relishes in his chosen persona of Batman. Using state of the art gear and military style machinery, Batman equips himself to take on the bad guys. Wayne also encourages his childhood friend and a current assistant District Attorney, Rachel Dawes, to remain constant in the fight against the underground mob boss Carmine Falcone.
Katie Holmes plays the role of Rachel. Running into each other after Wayne has a harsh night on the town he tells Rachel that there is good inside him still. Her response is that it doesn't matter what's underneath, it's only what one does on the outside that counts. These words spur him into further action as the tireless crime stopper and good doer. Later in the movie there are hints that this long time friendship will turn into something more, but that will have to wait until Gotham is safe once again.
While Batman is the character, Gotham is the setting and crime stopping is the theme, this movie has a deeper meaning. It is a story about facing one's fears. It is a story about overcoming obstacles. And most importantly, it's a story about following one's heart to do the right thing. While Batman is obviously a fictional character, as seen in Batman Begins, he is a thoughtful man with a tormented soul. We can understand him as a person, which is really what separates this movie from its predecessors.
At the end of the movie, a befriended police officer confronts Batman. He asks what will happen when other criminals arise – those who are more devious and dangerous, "those who leave a calling card" as he hands him a card from a deck: the joker.
This scene foreshadows a sequel, bound to come in a couple of years. At that point, I'll ask myself again "Who wants to see another Batman movie?" I hope that my instinct is again wrong and that I will be as pleasantly surprised as I was watching Batman Begins.
Celina Miller's movie reviews appear in the Sunday edition of The Brewton Standard.

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