Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Saturday, June 18, 2005


The Happy Little Fanboy

I have died and gone to geek heaven. My wife and I went to see Batman Begins last night and I'm still floating on a socially maladjusted cloud.

After the last two Batman movies, I felt bitter. I felt betrayed. I felt like I wanted to run Joel Schumacher through with a pike staff. First off, why the hell would anyone want to see a movie where the titular hero is made to be as interesting as chilled wheat paste. Second, if I want to see a drag show, I'll see a drag show, I don't need to see Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Uma Thurman with more make-up than Tammy Fae Baker at Mardi Gras emoting like they're on ecstasy. Third, who the fuck casts Chris O'Donnell in anything? Idiots. Idiots cast Chris O'Donnell. Basically, if you smeared some mayonnaise on two-day-old white bread and then filmed it for two and a half hours, the bread would turn in a more compelling performance than Chris Fucking O'Donnell. That's not even mentioning the fact that Robin is supposed to be a kid. O'Donnell's my age. He didn't need a guardian, he needed a sugar-daddy--which was apparently Schumacher's intended point. Nipples on the costumes, for Christ's sake.

This is, in part, why the new movie has made me so very, very happy. No day-glo motorcycle gangs. No hammy performances by big-name actors. No bat-nipples. It's not, though, just what Christopher Nolan and crew didn't fuck up that I love; it's all the things they got right.

Start with the casting. I can't think of anyone who would have made a better young Jim Gordon than Gary Oldman. From the moustache to the accent to the sad-sack look of a good cop on a dirty, dirty force, he just nailed this character. Lucius Fox was never that big of a character in the comic books and they sort of pumped the role up a bit for Morgan Freeman, but I'm glad they did, because you can never really have too much Morgan Freeman. Cillian Murphy is perfect for the Scarecrow. Take a close look at the dude. There's something just not quite right about his face. I will say that Michael Caine is not the first person who pops into my head when I think of Alfred. I've always seen him as a bit more proper and stiff than Caine usually seems. He makes it work, though. He shows the emotional connection that Alfred has for the family and that does it. Christian Bale is the best Batman of the modern age. Let me rephrase that: He's the best Bruce Wayne. To be honest, once they put the mask on, all of the Batmen pretty much look alike. But Bale turns Bruce Wayne into a complex character and, for once, we're allowed to spend enough time with him as Bruce Wayne that we believe his motivations before he dons the cape.

The movie owes a lot to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One, a brilliant revision of Batman's origin that was published in the late 80s. The writer of the screenplay, David S. Goyer, writes for comics (or at least has written for comics; he's been doing movies for awhile now) and he has a comic fan's appreciation for the character. He's borrowed the tone of Year One and some of the scenes and it makes for a more reality-grounded film, which means we have an easier time understanding and caring about this rich kid who beats the shit out of people.

I turned to my wife as the credits started to roll and I said, "That was fucking awesome". Really kind of pathetic how a transcendent fanboy experience can leave me so satisfied.

Anyway, next time, I promise a little more misery.