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In the beginning…
A hero's welcome on DVD


"They could not have done a better job with this movie. In every conceivable way, they nailed it."

That was me as I was exiting the theater after seeing Batman Begins. As you can tell, I loved it.

But that was almost five months ago. That's not exactly ancient history, but I hadn't seen it since then. It's a fair question: how would a thoughtful, character-driven action film such as this hold up to repeated viewings, particularly absent the sense of wonder and discovery that pervaded the first two-thirds of the running time?

The answer is a resounding "very well." Each time I watch it on DVD, I am wowed by Batman Begins. The transformation from drifter to hero is still fascinating, the various action sequences are still heart-pounding, the flashbacks to young Bruce and his parents are still heartbreaking, and the car is still fucking impressive. You all saw the movie; you don't need me to go over the plot.

Christian Bale still makes a great Batman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are still fun to watch, and Liam Neeson and Cilian Murphy are still creepy. But upon further review, the film's best performance belongs to Gary Oldman as Lieutenant Gordon. He conveys a very real air of resignation, and his joy at watching Batman do his thing is palpable.

And I like this movie so much that I'm not even going to make the obligatory swipe at Katie Holmes.


On the first disc of the Collector's Edition, the only "special feature" other than the theatrical trailer is a regrettable sketch involving Jimmy Fallon riding with Batman in the Tumbler (special appearances by Andy Dick and Jon Heder.) Yikes. Not sure why something like this – which was shot as the opening for the MTV Movie Awards this year – would be included. Someone must have thought it was funny. Someone could not have been more wrong.

It's too bad, because it's really the only misstep here. The second disc is a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes information that serves to not only illuminate the making of the film, but also provides some insight that goes beyond the script. For instance, a costume designer explains that when Bruce Wayne sprays the batsuit black, he's using a latex paint that will conceal heat (meaning it won't be detectable by a heat vision scope.)

Similar mini-documentaries are presented on the genesis of the story itself (no comic or film had ever presented the "missing years" of Bruce Wayne's life,) Christian Bale's training process, the set design, stunt coordination, fight choreography, and, of course, plenty of footage of the car. Each one is filled with more nuggets of knowledge than I can list in this space, and as watching each one it becomes apparent why there isn't a commentary track on this set – there's too much material to fit within the span of the movie. Listening to, say, Bale, director Christopher Nolan and writer David Goyer discuss each element of the production would be doing a disservice to the level of work and attention to detail involved with making this film.

There's also a piece on the Batman comic franchise, with Goyer and Nolan talking about which novels influenced them the most and the DC Comics people considering the character's future. As a handy companion piece, Warner reprinted three of these ("The Man Who Fell," which contains some art that was reproduced flawlessly in the film; Bob Kane's original "The Bat-Man"; and "The Long Halloween," a landmark series that introduces Carmine Falcone and features the villainry of the Scarecrow) in an enclosed comic. It's a nice touch, though I found it interesting that Frank Miller was not interviewed, nor was his "Batman: Year One" comic reprinted, especially since the similarities between Oldman's and Miller's interpretations of James Gordon are nearly impossible to ignore.

The extras menu actually is an interactive comic, too, which is kind of neat, but also a little irritating if you just want to watch a certain feature without deciphering what each image refers to. If you skip to the end, though, you just get each feature listed.

Best of all: not even a hint of a spoiler for the sequel.

Final Score: 9.0

Issue Date: October 28 - November 4, 2005
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