Batman Begins (2005)
After Schumacher killed Batman....Christopher Nolan brought him back to the big screen
This is the best Batman movie I've ever seen. Unlike Burton's dark gothic tone or the light campy touch of Schumacher, Chris Nolan uses a gritty dark realistic approach to the dark knight. This approach works very well for the protagonist because it allows the movie to stay true to the dark history of the comic book, and it takes it to another level; making the characters seem real. Christian Bale was just excellent as Batman/Bruce Wayne; surpassing even Clooney, Kilmer and even Keaton. I know many people would still argue that Michael Keaton was the best Batman, but he's not able to play both sides like Bale could in "Batman Begins." In the first two films, Burton never fleshed out too much of the Bruce Wayne persona, and it used only used brief flashbacks to explain the character. Val Kilmer, had all the charisma to be a great Bruce Wayne, but he came off as a bit too soft when he was in the Bat suit. As for Clooney, well...at least he tried despite a horrific script. Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan portray a more human side to Bruce Wayne. Allowing the film's main theme, about explaining how this rich kid falls psychologically into becoming this monster that stalks the criminal underworld, become the main focus of the film. Featuring great performances by Christian Bale, Michael Cain (Alfred), Katie Holmes (Rachel Dawes) and Liam Neeson (Ducard). "Batman Begins" is the best Batman film ever made.
The special effects were good as expected. The film goes into more detail about where Batman's gadgets come from, so it helps make some of Batman's equipment more believable. Not every gadget works in the film, and it takes Batman a few tries to learn how to be Batman. Which helps the audience to fully understand the protagonist's transformation. Further, enhanced by the visuals of this film which takes audiences on an action packed adventure. Heck, in one scene, where Batman is driving while being chased by the police will have audiences adrenaline pumping.
Nolan's uses the right touch for Batman, despite coming off as a bit too dark for younger viewers. Especially, when the film shows Bruce Wayne's training in the League of Shadows, under Ra's Al Ghul. The film does a great job telling a story of man's transformation into a monster. While keeping the story moving at just the right pace even though the film was two and a half hours long.
The supporting actors played a integral part in the film. Michael Caine, although not being in most of the movie, he did a great job when he was called on to move the story along. In several scenes, the chemistry between Caine and Bale allowed the viewer to see a deep connection between the two characters; which was absent in the other Batman movies (unless you count "Batman and Robin" poor attempt at it). As for Katie Holmes, she plays kind of "the girl next door" type, who resembles Bruce's past. However, as the film moves on, they grow further apart. As Nolan tells Bruce's story, as a man fades away from being a shadow of who he is, to become a living creature of the night.
Liam Neeson's performance was spectacular. Playing Bruce's mentor and nemesis. At every turn, Ducard challenges Bruce's ideals and forces him into doing whatever is necessary to achieve justice. In one scene, as Ducard confronts Bruce, in Wayne Manor, the intensity between Bale and Neeson builds up the film. The stern look into each other's eyes signifies the rivalry of the antagonist and protagonist so well; that it would make any fan's heart boiling.
However, Christian Bale's performance is what really stood out the most in the movie. Bale is able to bring a more human side to the dark knight. As a young man, Bruce tries to kill the man whom killed his parents, but he is brought to reality when he discovers that judicial process is corrupted by the criminal underworld. Or when Bruce argues with Alfred that Wayne Manor should be torn down. All these scenes show how naive Bruce was in his youth. Later in the movie, Bale portrays Bruce publicly as a playboy, and as his true mask. Publicly, Bale manages to portray Bruce as a man trying to pretend he's something he's not. In one restaurant scene, it shows Bruce on a date with two super models until he sees his old girl friend Rachael. In this scene, the viewer is able to tell that the character was acting but trying not to, which allows the audience to see the Bruce Wayne persona is slowly fading away. When Bale puts on the costume for the first time in the movie, it is then the audience able to see the same character that Bruce was as a young man. Conflicted and angry at a society that has allowed injustice to go on for so long. It is then the audience is able to see a young naive boy turn into a monster. Bale has the intimidating presence that most of the other actors lacked while portraying the dark knight (except Keaton).
Truly, this is one of the best action films of 2005. Showcasing an all star cast and one of the most under rated directors in Hollywood. Overall, "Batman Begins" is the best Batman film ever made.