I’m conflicted about this film. On the one hand, it was great to see some of the bits of the Batman mythos that we never get to see on film or TV. His wandering, his extensive training, the Falcone family, Ra’s al Ghul, Arkham Asylum. The production design was great, and the casting was pretty much flawless.
But there were problems. The first was the movie was very crowded, even at over two hours. It felt like it took a long time for the major conflict to develop. A lot of the supporting cast, like Lt. Gordon, got pretty short shrift. The whole Scarecrow plotline, while designed to be a red herring, felt pretty useless by the end. (Which is a shame, because he’s kind of a cool villain, and seemed wasted here.)
Ra’s himself certainly underwent some significant changes from his comic book self.
As much as it tried to escape the trappings of the typical superhero movie, there were a few pretty glaring failures in that regard. The villain’s eeevil plot, and the giant train model that it used, were like something out of a bad Bond film. (Couldn’t they just rent a couple of crop-dusters, rather than construct this Goldbergian sequence of steps and stolen devices?) Let’s not even talk about Batman and Gordon’s last conversation, and possibly the cheesiest sequel villain setup ever.
But most importantly, the film fell prey to one of the classic blunders: making everything too interconnected. Why must Wayne tower be the center of the city, with all of the water mains meeting there? Why must Bruce’s father have saved the city from the League before? Can’t they just want to destroy it on their own terms? Yes, Mr. Nolan, it’s all symbolic and circular and what have you; but it’s also dumb. Just… dumb.
All in all, it was a welcome reinterpretation of the Batman mythos. I enjoyed it, and I might even see it again if given the choice. But I do wish that they’d gone a little farther from the formula.