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Monday, January 02, 2006

Movie Review: Batman Begins

Comic book superheroes are a form of modern mythology. Even the comic book themselves "reboot" the stories on a regular basis, and each writer seems to bring a new sensibility or a different perspective to the stories. What I find fascinating is that there is a sort of "open-source" approach to the mythologies: good ideas get elaborated upon, and bad ideas get ignored in later retellings of the same story.

Batman, for instance, gets retold regularly (by Frank Miller, who did a fantastic job with The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One), and there are perhaps only a few inviolable parts of the canon: his alter-ego is playboy millionaire Bruce Wayne, and his parents were murdered in an alley shooting. All else is up for grabs.

Christopher Nolan, who also made Memento, takes a non-linear approach to the story, spending a good hour on the development of Bruce Wayne and his transformation from rich orphan to vigilante to hero. I thought the choice of Ra's Al Ghul, and the Scarecrow as the villains of the piece to be a great move: the story becomes much more about Bruce Wayne and Batman than it would be about his colorful adversaries.

Highly recommended. (And for a more in depth review, see: Matt Brunson's)

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