I just got back from seeing Batman Begins. I should get to bed so that I’m rested for tomorrow, but since I’m not tired, needed to eat something, and am not going in to work until after lunch, I’m going to take a minute to give my impressions.

I think it is important to note that while I enjoy Batman in general, I would not consider myself a die-hard fan (despite seeing a midnight showing on an IMAX screen). I do not follow the comic books much beyond what my friends who do tell me. I watched the animated series for a while during high school and was impressed. The current animated series seems to hold merit, but mostly on being better than most of the cartoons showing on Saturday mornings.

That said, this movie was excellent. Batman Begins shows a return to Batman as a bit of a detective as well as the martial arts expert and general justice-guy. His motives aren’t inhuman or over-dramatic, though the settings he finds himself in and the choices he makes can certainly be described as such. The hero is what I understand the comic book hero to have always been: a guy in his twenties who doesn’t quite know what he is doing, but knows enough to keep moving. There is even a real dark side to Batman, at last. He’s good, but were not sure if we like how he goes about being good at first. Then again, he doesn’t seem sure until just before his return to Gotham. The villains are also represented well. From the outright insane to the good intentions paving the way to hell, they have the flavor of true Batman villains.

Gotham itself is a much more realistic city than the previous films. Where they tried to play up the goth aspect of it, Batman Begins could have played out in almost any metropolis. I could swear I saw buildings from downtown Los Angeles interspersed in the scenery. The shift to the less fantastic city was a good decision and definitely still feels dark like Gotham has always felt to me. It’s a city brooding with problems, but with good somewhere at its heart. No need to dress it up with sweeping lines and cathedral-like sculptures to convey that.

By far the best relationship in the movie is that of Batsy and Gordon. The odd friendship coupled with an uneasy understanding from a desire to do good is well played, well written, and heart-warming, in some way.

I’m glad to have seen this film, and with good friends who also appreciated the movie. It’s worth a second pass to see what you missed, then a third just to enjoy it again.