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Christopher Nolan
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman
Writing Credits:
Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer

After training with his mentor, Batman begins his fight to free crime-ridden Gotham City from the corruption that Scarecrow and the League of Shadows have cast upon it.

Box Office:
$135 million.
Opening Weekend
$48,745,440 on 3858 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 140 min.
Price: $41.99
Release Date: 12/19/2017

Dark Knight IMAX Prologue
• “Reflections on Writing”
• “Digital Batman”
• “Batman Begins Stunts”
• “Tankman Begins” Spoof
• “The Journey Begins”
• “Shaping Mind and Body”
• “Gotham City Rises”
• “Cape and Cowl”
• “The Tumbler”
• “Path to Discovery”
• “Saving Gotham City”
• “Genesis of the Bat”
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Batman Begins [4K UHD] (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 26, 2017)

Although it made $107 million at the box office, most people view 1997’s Batman and Robin as a bomb. For one, Robin took in $55 million less than the next-lowest-grossing flick in the series, 1992’s Batman Returns.

In addition, virtually no one liked it. The flick made about 40 percent of its final gross during its opening weekend, and once word of mouth got around, it collapsed.

Batman & Robin also darn near killed the franchise, as the Batman flicks took seven years off to give movie-goers time to forget the bad taste left in their mouth with Robin. Rather than continue the series in a “business as usual” way, the next film would reinvent things with a return to the start.

That means a glimpse of Batman’s early years and a look at how he became the Caped Crusader. 1989’s Batman alluded to some of this information and gives us a cursory “origin story”, but for a full exploration of this area, we check out 2005’s Batman Begins.

The film’s first act depicts a few different facets of Bruce Wayne’s life. These occur in a non-linear fashion, but to make this synopsis more readable, I’ll place them in chronological order.

We meet an eight-year-old Bruce (Gus Lewis) and see some seminal events. First, he falls in a hole and gets surrounded by bats, an incident that causes a deep-seated fear of those beasts.

Next, after a depiction of bats in an opera scares him, Bruce gets his parents (Linus Roache and Sara Stewart) to take him out of the concert hall. As they leave, a street crook named Joe Chill (Richard Brake) robs them. This goes awry and ends in the shooting deaths of the elder Waynes.

Unsurprisingly, this leaves psychological scars on the young Wayne, and when we meet a college-aged Bruce (Christian Bale), he returns to Gotham City to attend a parole hearing for Chill. It turns out that Chill was a cellmate for crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) and will trade testimony for an early release. Bruce plans to shoot Chill but one of Falcone’s underlings beats him to the punch.

Bruce’s childhood friend Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) – now an assistant to the Gotham DA – tells him that the real roots of Gotham’s problems lie with the Falcones of the town, not the Chills. Bruce confronts Falcone, but the crime boss dismisses the wealthy youngster because he knows the kid has no understanding of the underworld.

Bruce sets out to gain those experiences and he renounces all the privilege that the Wayne name brings to make an anonymous trek. Eventually he ends up in an Asian prison where Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) approaches him.

Ducard works as the representative of Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe), the leader of a vigilante organization called the League of Shadows. Ducard promises Bruce that they can help train him to be a more effective tool against crime.

Bruce takes up this work and becomes a star pupil under Ducard’s tutelage. He earns a spot in the League but balks at the final test.

Ducard orders Bruce to execute a criminal, a task that Bruce refuses because he doesn’t see this as justice. This launches a brawl that kills Ra’s and almost snuffs Ducard as well, but Bruce narrowly saves his unconscious mentor and splits before his tutor awakes.

From there Bruce heads back to Gotham to take on crime in his own way. Thus starts the linear portion of the film as he reclaims his stake at Wayne Enterprises and also launches an ambitious plan to wreak havoc among the lowlifes of Gotham.

The latter enterprise occupies most of the screentime as we see Bruce’s plans come to fruition. Bruce lets longtime Wayne Manor butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) in on his plans and makes his old pal part of the program.

In addition, Bruce takes on a role in an obscure part of Wayne Enterprises so he can access the armor and weaponry he’ll need. He works with Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) to obtain and modify what he wants, and this leads to a formidable arsenal.

With all that at work, Bruce becomes the Batman, a dark force who quickly strikes fear in the hearts of Gothan lowlifes. He impresses some with his capture of Falcone, but Commissioner Loeb (Colin McFarlane) sees him as a vigilante and wants him captured. At least Bats has one cop on his side: Sgt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), the same officer who comforted young Bruce after his parents’ death.

The movie mostly follows a story related to attempts to poison the populace of Gotham. Led by the Scarecrow, the evil alter ego of court psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), a psychotropic powder will be placed into the water supply of the city and then dehydrated to literally eradicate the citizens with fear.

Eventually we learn that a mysterious figure runs the show from behind the scenes and uses both Crane and Falcone as his pawns. Naturally, Batman wants to stop this, so the flick shows us how he attempts to save Gotham.

As a longtime Batphile, I really looked forward to Begins. Arguably, it stood at the top of my “must see” list for 2005, though Revenge of the Sith was on about the same level. While not a perfect Batman movie, Begins mostly lived up to expectations.

First the bad:

1) Katie Holmes. While beautiful, she takes a completely inappropriate approach to Rachel, as she makes the character smug and condescending. Because of this, it becomes awfully tough to see why Bruce cares what she thinks; she’s so self-righteous that you want him to tell her to take a hike.

Holmes also lacks maturity and force in the part. In her hands, Rachel’s not a strong adult woman, so instead she feels like a pouty girl upset her daddy didn’t buy her a new convertible for Sweet Sixteen.

2) The first act. Of course, the movie needed to tell some of the origin story – and with a title like Batman Begins, it required more of an emphasis on the character’s start than I’d expect from other movies of this sort. The name implies it’ll follow how he came to be Batman, so I welcome a longer take on his beginnings.

But not quite this long – though it’s not the length that makes the film’s first act a bit tedious. Instead, it’s the sluggish pacing and the awkward time-related transitions.

I admire the movie’s attempts to avoid the standard chronology, but they don’t work especially well here. Maybe that’s because it become more difficult to figure out when the flick will skip the preliminaries and get us to the real action that we want to see.

3) Cockney Alfred? I understand a desire to make Alfred a little rough and tumble, but I think prior incarnations of the role worked just fine. This one seems a little off to me, as he lacks the polish to make sense as a butler.

4) Changes made to the origin story, where my biggest complaints relate to the relationship between Bruce and Joe Chill. In the comics, he got away with the murder of Bruce’s parents - it wasn’t until years later that Batman tracked down Chill and dealt with him.

That was much more interesting than the crook’s easy capture and convenient demise here. He gets Jack Ruby’d and that’s it.

I get that the movie wants to leave Bruce without the feeling of satisfaction he may have received from pulling the trigger himself, but it feels too convenient in a couple of ways. First, it ensures that Bruce doesn’t become a killer, and second, it creates a connection to Falcone.

Frankly, Falcone’s a pretty unnecessary character in the first place, but even so, we don’t need him tied to Bruce in this way. I guess this is all better than the lame way Batman made the Joker the killer of Bruce’s parents, though.

And now the good:

1) Pretty much everything else.

That may sound like too much praise, but it’s true, as once Bruce returns to Gotham, the movie rarely makes any missteps. It immediately becomes significantly more interesting and picks up its pace to a terrific degree. I get the feeling director Christopher Nolan felt relieved that the preliminaries were out of the way so he could move on to the meat of the tale.

Or perhaps I’m confusing my own sentiments with the director’s. When Bruce’s plane sets down in Gotham and act two formally launches, though, I do experience a serious sigh of relief that the preliminaries are finally done and we can actually get on with the action.

Granted, we still get some preparatory action at that point. After all, Bruce doesn’t return to Gotham already set up as Bats, so he needs to get the mechanics of that alter ego in place.

Somehow these seem much more interesting to me than the activities in the first act. Maybe it’s because I can sense we’re closer to actual Bat-action, but I think it’s cool to see Bruce go through all the issues connected to formally turning himself into a superhero.

The move rarely lets up after that. To a degree, the story gets lost along the way, but that’s a complaint one can apply to all the Batman movies, and I’m not sure that the narrative matters all that much anyway.

The Batman flicks aren’t particularly plot-driven, so their tales exist to give us lots of dark action and colorful baddies. What happens within those stories is simply a means to an end, and that’s definitely the case here.

One might criticize Begins for its lack of a relatively strong Bat-nemesis, as you’ll find no one as interesting as the Joker, the Penguin or the Catwoman here. The movie depicts the Scarecrow well, and Cillian Murphy’s performance makes him surprisingly effective.

It’s cool to have a villain who’s so unintimidating physically. Scrawny Murphy looks like a good gust of wind would blow him down the street, but he manages to infuse the character with enough menace and bravado to make it work.

Not that he has a ton to do, however, and the film’s structure requires it to obscure the identity of the real main villain until well into the third act. Surprisingly, none of this matters.

Prior Batman movies relied heavily on their baddies to carry the stories, but this one doesn’t. That comes as a positive since it lets us concentrate on other issues.

The excellent work of Christian Bale certainly makes all of this fly more effectively, and he captures all sides of the role very well. Not only does he come across as a menacing and powerful Batman, but he fills out Bruce better than any of his predecessors.

I especially like the way he shows Bruce’s fake playboy side. Those parts got lost in prior Batman flicks, but Bale realizes them nicely.

He also presents true depth in the part, such as during the scene in which he acts the fool at a society function with his two supermodel dates. When he encounters Rachel, he immediately sobers up – to a degree.

He doesn’t negate his earlier silliness, but we can sense his regret that he needs to put on this face and look like an idiot in front of his longtime friend. Bale delivers real dimensionality in the role and gives us these feelings without overstatement. Bale becomes the best Batman yet seen on film.

An absolutely top-notch cast helps support Bale well, and except for Holmes, I can’t find a dog in the bunch. I may not care for the whole Cockney Alfred choice, but I can’t fault Caine’s performance in other ways. He doesn’t act like the Alfred of the comics, but he fleshes out the role with life and verve.

Freeman does exceedingly well with a small part - heck, I thought he made a greater impression here than he did during his Oscar-winning role in the tiresome Million Dollar Baby. Usually when Freeman “slums it” in blockbusters, he phones in his performance, but not so his turn as Fox. He looks like he’s having a ball in the role and makes the part much more memorable than it should have been.

Oldman may well be the best of the supporting bunch. We’re so accustomed to seeing him play over the top, outrageous characters that it’s a little strange to watch him as a straight arrow.

Oldman reins in his hammy tendencies to make Gordon believable and warm. I like the way the film depicts the burgeoning relationship between Gordon and Batman.

All of these factors leave Begins as a satisfying first entry in Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy”. The subsequent films top it, but that doesn’t alter the fact Begins delivers a solid film.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A/ Bonus B

Batman Begins appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Always the least attractive of the three “Dark Knight” films, Begins continues to show a few inconsistencies.

Overall sharpness remained good, but some exceptions occurred. In particular, a handful of interiors could come across as a bit on the soft side.

Still, the majority of the movie demonstrated very nice definition, and I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering. Print flaws also failed to appear.

In terms of colors, Begins favored the usual orange and teal palette – with more of a push toward orange. The disc brought out these hues in a positive manner that fulfilled their intentions.

Black levels came across as deep and rich, while shadow detail looked appropriately heavy but not overly thick. Even with the smattering of soft shots, I thought Begins looked very good.

I encountered almost no reason to complain about the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Batman Begins, as from start to finish, the movie featured a dynamic auditory experience. The soundfield was wonderfully broad and immersive, as it created a smooth environment in which all the action occurred.

In addition to the expected solid stereo presence of the score, the effects formed a terrific feeling of realism. They were always appropriately placed in the spectrum and they blended together well. Panning was smooth and tight, and localization seemed great.

All five speakers blasted audio much of the time. Given all the action sequences, those offered the most attention, and they lived up to expectations.

The surrounds both bolstered the front environment and also presented more than a little unique information. They helped give us a good 360-degree setting in which to experience the action. Check out the Batmobile chase and the climax on the train for the movie’s best segments.

Audio quality delivered the goods as well. Although some of the lines in the early training scenes seemed a little metallic, they were anomalies. Otherwise speech was consistently clear and natural, and I never noticed any signs of edginess.

Music was bright and bold, and effects delivered a strong punch, so those elements were always tight and crisp. Bass response was particularly good, as the bass complimented the mix and enlivened the action. This was a vivid and dynamic track the embellished the movie.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The 4K replaced the Blu-ray’s Dolby TrueHD mix with a DTS-HD MA version – if any differences existed between the two, they escaped me.

Visuals offered a more obvious upgrade, as the 4K came with the expected improvements in terms of definition, contrast, blacks and colors. This became the best version of the film to date.

No extras appear on the 4K disc itself, but the set includes a Blu-ray copy that boasts supplements. All of these appear on a second platter, so the first provides the movie on its own.

First we get a six-minute, 36-second Dark Knight IMAX Prologue. This simply presents the first few minutes of Dark Knight, which includes footage shot on IMAX cameras. If you have the Dark Knight 4K, this becomes superfluous.

Next we find three bits that appeared as Easter eggs on the original DVD. The one-minute, 57-second Reflections on Writing presents co-writer David Goyer. He gives us fun anecdotes about research and secrecy for the movie.

Under Digital Batman, we find a 66-second piece with visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin. He shows us a concept clip that contrasts Christian Bale as Batman with a digital Dark Knight.

For the final former egg, Batman Begins Stunts gives us two minutes, 30 seconds of test footage for the car, the cape and stunt concepts. Both of these are inconsequential but interesting.

Next comes a spoof called Tankman Begins. This five-minute, 12-second comedy piece aired at the start of the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. It focuses on Jimmy Fallon but also features an appearance by Andy Dick. It’s not funny at all, though I’m happy it’s here as a footnote.

The majority of the remaining attractions come from its eight featurettes. We open with one called The Journey Begins. This 14-minute, 16-second show offers info from director Christopher Nolan, co-screenwriter David S. Goyer, production designer Nathan Crowley, producers Charles Roven and Emma Thomas, actor Christian Bale, and fight arranger David Forman.

The show covers Nolan’s and Goyer’s interest in the character, developing the material and choosing the movie’s subjects, secrecy around the project, casting the main character and supporting roles, and Bale’s approach to the role and physical training.

A bit of puffery occurs when those involved discuss the supporting roles, but overall this piece includes a lot of good notes. I especially like the information about the scriptwriting as well as the parts that concern Bale’s training.

For the 12-minute, 49-second Shaping Mind and Body, we encounter information from Nolan, Bale, Jennings, Forman, Neeson, This one goes over the movie’s fight sequence. We learn about the Keysi method featured in the flick along with choreography and execution of the hand-to-hand pieces.

We also gets notes about training and rehearsals as well as choices made in the cutting and photography of the fights. As usual, this one covers its material well and develops the topics effectively.

With Gotham City Rises, we find a 12-minute, 48-second program with comments from Nolan, Bale, Crowley, Thomas, Roven, visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin, director of photographer Wally Pfister, Cardington supervising art director Steven Lawrence, producer Larry Franco and special effects supervisor Chris Corbould. It discusses the look and building of the movie’s version of Gotham.

We learn what the participants wanted to do with the urban visuals as well as places like Wayne Manor and the Batcave along with the methods used to execute these. The program gets into a deep exploration of inspirations and choices along with the technical issues to create a vivid program.

Next we get Cape and Cowl. The eight-minute, 18-second featurette involves Nolan, Bale, Goyer, costume designer Lindy Hemming, costume FX supervisor Graham Churchyard, and actor Gary Oldman.

We learn about the design and creation of Batman’s costume as well as how it worked day-to-day. We get nice insights into their choices and intentions as this show provides a solid exploration of costume-related topics.

As you might expect, The Tumbler focuses on the new Batmobile. The 13-minute, 40-second piece offers details from Nolan, Bale, Pfister, Oldman, Crowley, Goyer, Corbould, Jennings, special effects workshop supervisor Andrew Smith, stunt performers George Cottle, George Peters and Dean Bailey, and actor Katie Holmes.

We find information about the reimagining of the vehicle and how they made it. The program goes over initial considerations and their development into reality. We also see tests and shooting the vehicle. I must admit I’m not wild about the Tumbler, but at least I can better appreciate its design via this show’s nice exploration of its look and build.

Path to Discovery goes for 14 minutes, 13 seconds. During it, we get notes from Nolan, Goyer, Crowley, Bale, Pfister, Franco, Thomas, Corbould, actor Liam Neeson, stunt coordinator Paul Jennings, stunt performers Buster Reeves and Mark Mottram, and art director Susan Whitaker. It digs into the sets and locations used to create the Himalayan monastery setting used in the first act.

We hear a lot about the challenges related to shooting in Iceland; I particularly like the tales about filming on a melting lake. The show gives us another informative and rich take on its subjects.

Saving Gotham City lasts 13 minutes, one second. It gives us comments from Nolan, Corbould, Holmes, Jennings, Reeves, Pfister, Lawrence, miniature unit supervisor Steve Begg, sequence lead – Double Negative Matthew Twyford, and visual effects supervisor Janek Sirrs.

“City” focuses entirely on the movie’s climatic sequence. We get information about the practical and computer effects used to execute the end scene and all its components.

These also include stunts and photographic elements. As always, the program gives us a solid exploration of its topics and proves quite useful.

For the final featurette, Genesis of the Bat fills 14 minutes, 53 seconds with remarks from Nolan, Goyer, DC Comics president and publisher Paul Levitz, DC Comics editor Bob Schreck, comics writer Denny O’Neil, Wildstorm artist and editorial director Jim Lee, and DC VP/executive editor Dan Didio. We hear about what the writers wanted to do with the comics’ history, collaborating with DC and influences, the roots of some characters, and changes over the years.

This doesn’t attempt a full history of the Batman comics. Instead, it prefers to focus on the effects the comics had on the movie, which makes it pretty tight. It’s not one of the better featurettes on this disc, but it gets into matters with reasonable effectiveness.

The set ends with the film’s trailer. Note that this set loses a few extras from the prior Blu-ray, which comes as a disappointment – especially because it drops the effective “In-Movie Experience”.

Arguably the best Batman film through 2005, Batman Begins starts a little slowly, but it quickly picks up steam and stands as a strong effort overall. The 4K UHD provides very good picture, excellent audio and a mostly good array of supplements. Begins gets a nice upgrade here, though serious fans will want to keep their Blu-rays to retain the bonus features the 4K drops.

To rate this film visit the Deluxe Edition review of BATMAN BEGINS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main