What can I say that hasn’t already been said? That Batman Begins finally gave us an excellent movie where Batman isn’t second-fiddle to some colorful adversary? That we’re not steeped in Burton’s tired gothic designs or Schumachers excessive neon lights? Well, that’s already been said, countless times, but it’s worth mentioning again and again how this movie, despite the problems it has, really is the quintessential Batman movie for both fans and casual viewers alike. And, just in time for the theatrical release of The Dark Knight, let us take this opportunity to look back at this great movie.
Batman Begins explores the origins of the Batman legend and the Dark Knight’s emergence as a force for good in Gotham. In the wake of his parents’ murder, disillusioned industrial heir Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels the world seeking the means to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful. He returns to Gotham and unveils his alter-ego: Batman, a masked crusader who uses his strength, intellect and an array of high tech deceptions to fight the sinister forces that threaten the city. Witness the birth of one of the greatest heroes ever created!
This won’t be a long review, nor will it cover any new ground. I originally reviewed this film back in 2005 for Toon Zone and, save for the host of typos that likely litter that review, I stand by it. However, even looking back on this movie three years later, as we gear up for the next installment of the franchise, it’s a movie that remains as solid as ever. Sure, the third act of the film is a bit ridiculous and sort of collapses (well, once the whole train sequence is over, the movie recovers), but this movie still remains the best live-action Batman movie ever made. As enjoyable as the Tim Burton movies were, they were never really Batman movies, just a costumed avenger in a gothic setting. The Schumacher films? Well, let’s not bother going there. But, yes. Batman Begins is still a solid movie and the best Batman film to date.
Of course, the main draw for this new Batman Begins: Limited Edition Gift Set is the new bonus features included, which I’ll get to. I feel that I should say a word or two about Batman Begins, namely about how it is the definitive Batman movie, as far as I am concerned. I really enjoyed the realistic bent this movie took, and how it tried to place everything within a believable reality. Sure, they did go a bit overboard with explaining everything and hammering a few points repeatedly, but it does work in context of the movie itself.
For me, this movie is the only one that made me actually feel like I was watching a Batman movie. Not some freakshow movie like Batman Returns or the neon extravaganza of Batman & Robin, but a real Batman movie. While it’s not perfect, it is simply the best one to date, no question. And considering what came before, that’s not hard to do, but, still, Batman Begins powers on passed them into a territory all its own. I know that part of the appeal of Batman, in the comics and in animation, is his gothic surroundings, which I understand and agree with. Those surroundings give Gotham City a definite personality. What I liked about Batman Begins is that is opted to drop the unrealistic gothic architecture of a major American city and go for the modern-day look. It fits perfectly for what Director Christopher Nolan set out to do.
Now, it’s not a perfect movie, like I said before. The third act is a bit of a mess and obviously shoehorned in to give the movie a bit more of an action feel. Aside from that, I can’t think of any other flaws for this movie. The casting is perfect, even Katie Holmes as Batman’s love interest, the presentation of the movie is dead-on, and the movie is just exciting to watch. It reintroduced us to Batman and scrubs away the painful memories of the previous botched attempts at adapting the famed Dark Knight to the big screen. Seriously, this is the movie that got it right and, on the even of the sequel arriving into theaters, now is a perfect time to check out this great movie.
As one can expect, this movie comes Highly Recommended to view. Maybe it is the nerd in me, the one who grew up reading Batman comics, but this is both a great comic book movie and a movie in general. Add on the picture-perfect casting, the exciting action sequences, the good script, and you have one enjoyable movie. If you haven’t watched this film yet, or have been considering watching it again, now is the best time to do it. Batman Begins is the best Batman movie to date (well, until July 18th!) and can easily be enjoyed by both the casual moviegoer and the celluloid fanatic. A new Batman franchise has definitely begun, and it’s never looked better!
Warner Home Video is re-releasing Batman Begins in a Limited Edition DVD Gift Set, including a collection of new extras. However, for those who already have the previous release, you may want to think twice before picking up this new collection. Before we dive in, let’s see what’s on the surface.
The Batman Begins Limited Edition DVD Gift Set comes in a cardboard box, which needs to be opened from the top to access the goodies. The cover art of the box, a lenticular image of Batman, is actually just one of the extra collectibles included in the picture, and is acts as the front cover art. It’s a standard box. The cardboard is durable, but not tough by any means, and looks nice on the shelf next to Superman: The Ultimate Collection and Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology. And now, once we get inside, we see that, well, there’s a few nice new collectibles, but not as much as there seems.
To me, it seems like this new set would be perfect for the strict Batman collector. There’s some interesting goodies in here, but not anything that really jumps out. First up is the lenticular image I previously mentioned, which mimics the cover art for the two-disc Special Edition release of Batman Begins. After that we get five postcards, all of which contains artwork seen in bonus features of the Batman Begins: Two-Disc Deluxe Edition release, specifically from the section that covered abandoned art concepts. So, nothing really new there, either. After that, we have a flash drive with 18 images from The Dark Knight, but, for those who have been keeping an eye on the movie, nothing new. After that, we round off the disc with a 2-minute peak at The Dark Knight, which contains new footage (surprisingly), and a free admission ticket towards The Dark Knight.
And that’s really it for the new material. Now, there is the bonus content on the actual discs. However, the problem with that is, well, none of it is new. That’s not new information, by any means. It was quite obvious in the press releases and assorted articles about the release. It’s still the same bonus content that we got before. It’s exactly the same. And, since it is the same, I’ll point you toward Zach’s original 2005 review of the Batman Begins: Two-Disc Deluxe Edition, which you can view here. I share the same opinions on this, so there’s no point in revisiting this.
For those unfamiliar with this release, there is a sizable collection of extras, which I’ll list. On the two-disc set included, you’ll get the original theatrical teaser trailer, the Tankman Begins Parody, the “Genesis of the Bat: Batman Incarnations from the Mid-1980s to the Present” featurette, “The Journey Begins: Creative Concepts, Story Development and Casting” featurette,” “Shaping Mind and Body: Fighting Style” featurette,” “Gotham City Rises: Production Design” featurette, “Cape and Cowl: The New Batsuit” featurette, “The Tumbler: The New Batmobile” featurette, “Path to Discovery: Filming in Iceland” featurette,” “Saving Gotham City: The Monorail Chase Sequence” featurette, and “Confidential Files Character/Weaponry” image gallery. All of this is housed in an interactive comic book-themed menu. There’s a nice amount of information, but not as much as it seems. These bonus features listed above are featured on the two-disc Batman Begins release included in the giftset.
However, what we’re here to look at, what this review is actually all about, is whether or not this new release is actually worth picking up, especially for Batman Begins fans who may have already picked up the original two-disc release way back in 2005. And, after consideration, the consensus is really a no-brainer. If you are a hardcore collector of Batman, then pick up this release. It’ll have a few goodies that’ll stack up nicely on the shelf, plus the DVD packaging itself will look quite good alongside the other special edition super-hero films from Warner Home Video. I can see the appeal to this release, I really can, but I think this is something that’ll appeal more to the collector, and the fifteen or so people who didn’t pick up Batman Begins when it was originally released on DVD.
I am disappointed by this release, namely based around the fact that there are so many missed opportunities here. Why not press a new bonus disc and include the deleted scenes that all the fans want to see. Why not show us some more detailed behind-the-scenes footage. Yeah, toss on some The Dark Knight goodies on there, of course, but give us more of the production material we want to see. Hell, you could even make it a Batman Begins V2.0 or something and toss in that footage. Of course, I probably shouldn’t encourage that type of double-dipping so I’ll end that here. Still, like I said, based on the name Batman Begins Limited Edition Gift Set, you do get a few goodies packaged in with the DVDs most fans already purchased back in 2005.
Batman Begins Limited Edition Gift Set is good for the hardcore collector or the few fans who haven’t picked up the movie yet. Since Batman Begins: Two-Disc Deluxe Edition is still readily available to own, you’ll have to decide for yourself if you want just the DVDs or the extras that come with this new release. So, like I said, for both the odd fan who doesn’t own this film and the hardcore collector, I’ll definitely stamp this release as Recommended. For those who already own the Batman Begins: Two-Disc Deluxe Edition released in 2005, you can probably Skip It. Still, now is a good time to revisit this great film before heading out to see the theatrical release of The Dark Knight, so give this movie a spin anyways!
Batman Begins Limited Edition Gift Set is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.