An interesting comment was presented by our villain about how to destroy a city, and that economics could rot a city from inside out. I am sorry that it wasn't appropriate at the time for him to present a more complete argument about how this was being done, because I am interested in how a movie would present macro economics at a city level. More specifically, I would like to know how organized crime would destroy economic infrastructure rather than establish it.
I am not a fan of horror movies or the so-close-it's-unrecognizable action filming. So a lot of the action scenes made me nauseous for one reason or the other. By the big finale, I was tired of people having glowing eyes and flames shooting out of their mouths. At one point I just sat there with my eyes closed waiting for the horror special effects to go the hell away so that the plot could get moving again. The bat-ness of the attacks and how they were filmed was nifty-neat, but the close enough to see individual arm hairs action shots made getting any adrenaline out of the fight very difficult for me. I need more perspective than that.
The drug presentation in this movie was... interesting. I was pleased that we got to work with Batman from the local mob boss up to the out-of-town drug lord, and the story developed well along those paths. The split shipments and double dealing was a fun diversion while we were waiting for the plot to advance.
We have a physics problem here, folks. What kind of microwave can heat water to steam so fast that steam explodes up from the water main through manhole covers, yet does not boil the people standing next to it?
And while we're on problems, I'll repeat pictsy's issue: How can an organized [violent] criminal gang declare itself to be against crime and for justice, and not get me snorting over the ill-logic of that argument?
Ok, enough hard thoughts. On to the fun stuff.
My favorite actor of the movie mention goes to Gary Oldman as the police investigator who hasn't quite lost faith in the system. He played the geeky, earnest detective who is trying to stay inside the game as the mob has drawn it while still being a good cop. He encompassed the role so thoroughly that not once did I think of him as Sirius Black from Harry Potter fame or even the priest from Fifth Element. He was Jim Gordon for the whole movie. Even when he got to drive the batmobile (new! improved!), he stayed totally in character.
Christian Bale looks like he came off the assembly line as Tom Cruise, millennium edition. His acting was fine, and he delivered his lines with precision while playing Bruce Wayne. He was well filmed, and made it easy for us to like him, especially because he worked on his bat-toys himself as well as borrowed and bought from everywhere. His growly Batman voice got annoying after a while, though I admit it was quite effective. His presentation of a wanna-be playboy was a bit false, as though his age and the age he was trying to act were a mismatch, though no one specifically pinpointed his age in the movie. (Note that he is a year older than me.) The best lines were delivered against Alfred (butler), where Alfred's soft cheer provided great contrast to Bruce's little-lost-boy voice, or profound declamation, or whine. All in all, he was a very satisfactory Bruce/Batman not just for his own presence, but for the way he blended or contrasted with the other actors on the set.
Michael Caine has been acting on the big screen since 1956. (He was Alfie in the original 1966 movie, if anyone cares.) I remember him from Noises Off and Secondhand Lions. He has such a fantastic smile - it lights up his whole face - that even the most trivial of syrupy lines was delivered with poise and candor. Caine's droll presentation as the butler/father/zookeeper/conspirator in Batman is a scene-stealer at times. If I didn't have a grandpa I adore, I'd want him. He's just that great.
Cillian Murphy plays the falsely-detached doctor/scientist very well. He has really odd, clear blue eyes that are too widely spaced for such a narrow jaw. He could be made up to be quite a romantic figure for a Dangerous Liaisons period piece, but in today's action films, it looks like he was destined to play a second-level bad guy.
Morgan Freeman is always a pleasure to watch on the big screen. That's all I need to say.
Who's idea was it to let Qui-Gon Jinn onto the set? Without even changing his facial makeup? As a ninja master, no less? Liam Neeson is a great physical actor, and his sword work is spectacular to capture on camera even if it's too flashy for belief sometimes. But I find his patronizing, omnipotent tones hard to bear, when it is the only way he speaks for the entire movie. His voice control is excellent, and I would love to see him on stage someday, if only to see him use more emotions. I think the entire range of emotions for his character in Batman was pleasant superiority and mystical superiority, with a dash of pleased surprise on his face in a few scenes.
Kate Holmes was the only major female role in this movie, and I'm not sure she was the best choice. Though I haven't thought about who might be better. She played a small role quite well, though, bridging the difference between idealism and panicked bystander and determined/cornered protector with a transitional ease I found admirable. She is another person with odd eyes and an open, innocent face. Like Murphy's, her eyes are very widely spaced in her face, though her haircut brings her face back into focus well. The smacking offense is her smile, which sprouts from the right side of her face and only sometimes makes it all the way across to the left cheek. The one jarring note is her attire vs. her car. She is incredibly made up when she runs into playboy-Bruce in a hotel, and yet she drives a generic mid-year sedan when she drops off her birthday gift. Oh, and Katie, honey? Learn how to hit someone correctly. And never never slap a man (twice!) when you are both in a car, even if you are the driver.
Rutger Hauer was cast as a businessman on the wrong side of the table from Bruce Wayne, and he was a delightful cameo for me. I will never get over Ladyhawke and his action scenes in there. In Batman, he presents the rich self-assured businessman with confidence and competence, and I was a little sorry he didn't have a bigger part. (He's a year older than Mom, by the way.)