With The Dark Knight Rises coming up in July, I had spent some quality time with the two Christopher Nolan helmed movies that lead into this summers potential blockbuster. With that said… I touch on the movie itself and follow it up with some words about the extra features from the Blu-ray. If anything, skip to the headings and check out some of my bits about the car itself or the development of the cape or what not.
Batman Begins is the 2005 movie from Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, & Cillian Murphy. Christopher Nolan directed the movie off a story David S. Goyer wrote.
Batman Begins is the first of a trilogy from Nolan. In the off chance you haven’t seen this movie yet, there are mild spoilers ensuing in this movie/Blu-ray review…
Batman Begins is about how Bruce Wayne came to become Batman. It’s a unique origin because we delve more into the source of Bruce’s inspiration for using the bat as a symbol, the murder of his parents and the frustration and anger from the murder of his parents within the young man.
We experience Bruce as he exiles himself to a foreign land to learn to fight. We see his introduction to the League of Shadows and meeting Henri Ducard, aka Ra’s al Ghul. (Played by Neeson.) In this movie, Bruce Wayne gets his training from Ghul.
Then through a series of well orchestrated plot points, we watch the evolution of Bruce Wayne’s Batman… It takes a few encounters on the street but each event is a logical step to the next, which culminates in our well-equipped hero/vigilante, Batman.
This version, or vision of Christopher Nolan bases this fictional hero in the real world, limited to the restrictions of reality. He intentionally keeps Batman in his own world, meaning we don’t see other DC characters. This is his movie, his story, his fight. Our journey.
And his gritty, realistic version of Batman worked and was well received, not only by the comic fan, but film fans in general, having grossed over $350M worldwide.
If you’re a fan of the franchise, see it. If you like well constructed stories, particularly one of justice and revenge, ala The Count of Monteo Cristo, then see it.
You won’t be disappointed.
Batman Begins Blu-ray Extras Recap and Review
There’s the ‘In-Movie Experience’
This feature played the movie but there was a box in the corner of the screen and had complimentary commentary or artists stills or what not of the scene you were watching. Sometimes the informational bit muffled the movie, but when Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan or any of the creative team behind Batman Begins speaks, you want to hear them.
Here we were shown a digitally created screen versus the real scene. We’d see various snippets of digital tests to some of the stunt tests.
A series of extras called ‘Behind the Story’
Jimmy Fallon bit, where he’s in the passenger seat of the Tumbler, in place of Katie Holmes.
The Journey Begins
We hear Christopher Nolan talk about him approaching WB about creating his version of Batman, and how he nabbed David S. Goyer to write the story. They touch on keeping the production under wraps and code named it “The Intimidation Game.”
No photocopies were ever made of the script… WB execs went to Chris’s garage to read the one and only script.
Shaping Mind and Body
Bale built himself up to 220 lbs, after finishing his work on The Machinest. It was a bit of overkill and lost some of that bulk just in time for filming.
Nolan said part of making the movie epic was the casting of critical actors for various roles.
That touch briefly on many of the primary cast and especially the chameleon-like ability of Gary Oldman to become James Gordon and how he looks just like James Gordon in the Batman title, “Year One.”
Gotham City Rises
The look of Gotham evolved parallel with the script development and they looked at large cities of the world, with New York being noted specifically but if you look carefully, you’ll see Chicago in the background of the primary CGI.
Wayne Manor was based on a castle about an hour and a half north of London.
The Batcave was a fully constructed set on a sound stage.
One day of working with bats convinced them to use digital bats. The digital bats are the result of them having scanned dead bats and created models from the different scans.
Cape and Cowl
A mold was created of Bale’s body and then the suit was formed into that. The pieces were all designed, then cooked, the moisture squeezed out and then dried.
The mask was designed to show his angst, the basis of Bale’s character.
Bale developed a love-hate relationship with the suit. Being foam-latex, it was a hot thing to wear and Bale said he got headaches from wearing it. He used the headaches as a launching point to be menacing and fierce.
Bale called it “A hell of an honor to wear this.” This, being the suit.
They had to invent a fabric for the cape since standard materials would absorb too much water and get too heavy.
Memory fabric is something being researched by the DoD, which was the basis for the cape technology in the movie.
Batman – The Tumbler
The batmobile was designed first, before the rest of the movie and came from a cross over of a Lambroghini and a Humvee.
It was complicated to make it steer. It’s 15 feet long, 5 ft tall, 2 tons, with 1/2 a ton of rear axle and tires.
During pre-film testing, they tried to kill the completed car, to see what it could do. In the movie, there was no trick-photography… what you saw is what it was doing. (They got the car up to 100 mph on the open road.)
Everyone wanted to keep the Tumbler after the movie wrapped.
The jumps were all the real car… including the jump into the batcave… (Admittedly, it was done in two shots. First the launch off a ramp… then they went to the batcave set to finish the shot.
They had a few issues… like not enough ramp up distance, so they installed a nitrogen cannon to launch the car. But then they had a limited amount of space inside the set, so they set up a restraining cable to stop it.
This was an awesome extra for this ‘car guy.’ So when you see the batmobile/Tumbler scenes, know there was no CGI involved there.
Path to Discovery
They filmed Bruce’s time in the monastery in Iceland… they built the village and set the front doors into the mountain in Iceland.
The ice lake they filmed on was melting while they were there. They could hear the cracking with the ice melting.
Watching them film the scene where Bruce saves Ducard from falling off the glacier ledge is incredible to see.
(This production crew has a seriously masochistic need to avoid CGI scenes!)
Saving Gotham City
Here they chat about real stunts versus CGI add-ins and the closing scenes of the fight over Gotham City.
What was CGI was the city outside the windows of the train fight scene.
The city scale was 1/6th scale. They had to use forklifts to move the train around… it was one of the biggest miniature shoots, ever. (Biggest miniature??? Eh???)
Genesis of the Bat
The story drew heavily on the history and mythology of Batman. Blessed with having attracted good writers and artists over the years.
Things brought to screen had to be extremely reverent to the mythology as they culled from the last 30 years of the comic franchise. They drew from three eras of the franchise.
“Batman The Long Halloween,” the comic books from the 70′s, “Batman Year One.”
Observation made was that in some shape or fashion, Batman has been introduced to so many people through the years, whether it be the Batman TV series, comics or movies.
Then there are some stills for the marketing, and then, the
This covers some materials and such that were never fully covered in the film. There’s material on Batman’s Utility Belt, the memory fabric, the suit and The Tumbler and many more aspects from the movie…
These spots are primarily a still or a short film sequence of the subject, enhanced with a reading pane full of some information. Though most of it is already known, it’s great to get just a little bit more out of it.
Of course, at the end of all the extra features… (as I’ve progressed through them, is the The Dark Knight IMAX Prologue)
If you’re a fan of the franchise, and have been on the bubble about getting Batman Begins on Blu-ray or DVD, I’d say go for it… I think you will enjoy it and it’s a great reminder/warm up for The Dark Knight Rises!