This is the best Batman movie yet. Christian Bale, living up to the promise of his performances in American Psycho and Equilibrium, is the best Batman, hands down. Bale’s Batman is dark, dangerous, disturbed, dehumanized and vengeful—as he was meant to be. As Batman, his voice takes on a guttural, animalistic quality. The new menacing-looking, tank-like, car-crunching, building-smashing Batmobile is a better reflection of Batman’s spiritual being than the sleek Batmobile of earlier movies. The slow-paced and meandering build-up in the first half hour or so ultimately pays off handsomely in the movie’s climactic scenes, with plenty of action and suspense along the way.
Katie Holmes (not one of my favorite actress) does a credible job of transforming her character’s desiccated and de-sexualized career feminist early in the movie into the increasingly alluring and desirable woman that is released after she experiences Batman’s primal nature. Michael Caine was, of course, born to play Alfred.
Gotham City is given a much-needed makeover: it is no longer unrelentingly dark and polluted, and from the night sky it now appears, like contemporary New York City, as a glittering, jewel-encrusted metropolis raising the expectation of prosperity and culture below, while at street level it is sleazy and decadent, rife with slums and human corruption. The brilliant Liam Neeson steals some early scenes from Bale, but Bale holds his own later in his Batman persona.
It’s not The Batman Chronicles on Mises and Batman, but what is?