Ever wonder how Batman came to be? If so, Batman Begins is the movie to see. Director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) focuses the movie on the man in the bat. The film atypically concentrates on the winged superhero's humanity, sacrificing much of the usual grandeur and heroism.
The movie opens with young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in an Asian prison while on a journey of inner exploration as he tries to resolve the guilt of his parents' deaths. In prison, Wayne encounters Ducard (Liam Neeson), a member of The League of Shadows, a secret ninja society dedicated to restoring justice in the world. The audience follows Wayne's training with the League of Shadows, where he learns his "superpowers." When asked to kill a man as a part of his induction, however, Wayne escapes to Gotham City. Once back, Nolan takes the viewer through the particulars of how Batman came to be, from his armor to the famous Batmobile.
But what would a Batman movie be without the villain? So enters Dr. Jonathan "Scarecrow" Crane, who, naturally, plans to destyory Gotham. Batman comes to the rescue, of course, but look out for a twist at the end.
Batman Begins doesn't disappoint, but it doesn't wow either. The star-studded cast, which also includes Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Tom Wilkinson and Katie Holmes, certainly helps the film. But while one can appreciate Bale's attempt to embody the superhero's persona and mystery, his voice change from Bruce Wayne to Batman is a bit contrived. Also, Crane, supposedly the elemental villain, lacks development, as does Wayne's leading lady, Rachel (Katie Holmes).
Nolan's effort to develop a deeper understanding of Bruce Wayne is respectable, but he seems to have overshot it. Innovation and creativity are always esteemed in the film industry, but when dealing with such a classic character as Batman, you must be careful not to omit the elements that define it. Ultimately, Nolan shows too much of how Bruce Wayne became Batman and not enough of Batman.