The Dark Knight returns to the big screen and I'm glad to say that he is almost back to his very best after the Joel Schumacher disasters of the Nineties.

The film focuses on the events that enabled millionaire Bruce Wayne to turn into Batman. We see the death of his parents and his thirst for revenge, which leads to a foreign jail, where he is found by Ducard (Liam Neeson), the head of a vigilante outfit, The League Of Shadows. Ducard trains Wayne in a variety of combat skills, but he refuses to join The League and returns to Gotham, where, under the guidance of weapons expert Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), turns his childhood fear of bats into becoming a man that criminals will fear.

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He has to thwart a devilish plan, concocted by mad psychiatrist Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy) and Mob kingpin Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), which ends up with Falcone going insane and Crane, now in the guise of The Scarecrow, joining forces with a character whom I won't name, to try and flood the city's water supplies with toxins to make Gotham's residents go mad with fear.

The performances are top-notch, with Christian Bale brilliant in the dual role of Wayne and Batman. He manages to convey the sense of tension and pride that I feel makes up the psyche of the Dark Knight. Neeson and Murphy are excellent as villains of the piece and Gary Oldman is also good in a rare "normal" role, as Batman's police confidant Jim Gordon. Some of the other characters, such as Katie Holmes' DA Rachel Dawes and Lucius Fox, seem a little underwritten.

The film is not as dark as Tim Burton's Batman. Co-writer/director Christopher Nolan has kept certain stylistic traits and jettisoned the more outre elements from previous incarnations. The editing seems a little haphazard, as if Nolan is trying to put in as many montage cuts as possible.

However, the interpretation of Wayne's parents' death is interesting and I am glad to see that Batman remains moody and introspective, which is the way it should be. Also, the special effects and action scenes are quite superb, particularly the monorail sequences at the film's climax.

Overall, the film is a success and if the Nolan and Bale stay together we could have a very successful Batman franchise, which is what we have all wanted.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2005
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The evolution of mixed up rich kid Bruce Wayne into the Dark Knight of Gotham City.
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Read more Batman Begins reviews:

Stephen Carty *****
Scott Macdonald ****1/2
Angus Wolfe Murray ****

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan, David S Goyer

Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Morgan Freeman, Linus Roache, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe, Gus Lewis, Sara Stewart

Year: 2005

Runtime: 141 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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