Denver has one of the last remaining drive-ins, which is a perfect way to go see a movie with kids. Or so it would seem. The drive-in itself says on their web site that they take in shorts when they show a kid flick. Seems daylight savings time moves the showtimes back so far most parents won't take the kids. (Does anyone still like daylight savings time?) Last Friday we granted a parental exception to bedtime and off we went to see the latest cartoon, Madagascar. Alas, it was gone, so we saw Batman Begins instead.
I liked it a lot; the wife did not. MPC1 fell asleep before it could really get off the ground (hence proving the drive-in folks were right), and MPC2 was just confused and cried a lot (little babies are creatures of habit and schedule - we were supposed to be home in the quiet living room, not in a dark car somewhere with the call and refrain of horns interrupting her sleep.)
I suspect the difference in my wife's opinion and mine is due to expectations based on previous incarnations of Batman. We both love the campy TV show - it was a fixture of both our childhoods - and we both liked the first movie. I was (... well, "am") a comic book fan, though, and the Batman of comic books was a much more serious character. (I'm not gonna bother with the defense of comic books being serious art. That opinion is kinda like your political opinion - no doubt you've already formed it and no amount of persuasion will sway you. Which is OK. Gotta stand for something, donchaknow.)
So, whilst I enjoyed the campy Batmans, this was the Batman I'd always wanted to see: A guy just barely hanging on to sanity, pissed at the world due to all the injustice, and equipped with enough money and toys to do something about it. My wife thinks the premise of Batman is silly enough in the first place, so trying to play it straight rather than as pure fantasy kinda trips her bullshit meter so that she can't suspend disbelief. Funny how we can both have the same problem with a premise - how can a guy justify putting on a bullet-proof batsuit and chase down crooks who have a thing for costumes, too - but require completely different solutions. Me: Make it as plausible as possible in the given world; Her: It's a goof, so play it that way, Charlie. If "make it real" is the new trend in the Batman films, I'm probably going to be seeing them sans wife from now on.
The only thing this story really muffs is the credibility of the scheme that Batman must unravel to save the city. Anyone who understands the technology employed will wonder if the writers did any research on it whatsoever (I'll put that below in a spoiler section).
Outside of that, it’s a fun ride, with just the right level of detail to thrills. For instance, the machinations of Bruce Wayne's wealth are presented in enough detail to answer nagging questions I've always had. Also, the villains in Batman are supposed to be pretty freakin' sinister. Superman gets the mad geniuses you can almost appreciate in a Wile E. Coyote sorta way, but Batman's thugs are supposed to be exponentials of more fucked up than he is.
Most thrilling of all, though, is they manage to make the main bad buy, the Scarecrow, legitimately scary. The wife and I were very glad MPC1 had fallen asleep when he popped up. After about scene 3 of some truly goosebump inducing stuff, we vowed we will now strictly adhere to the PG-13 rating. (This is only the second time we've taken the chance and yet we got burned again; the first being "Legally Blonde 2" where it comes out that her Chihuahua "Buster" is gay and wants to boff a boxer or something.)
Collective opinion across the web tends towards identifying this as a guy flick, which might also explain my wife and I not agreeing on the merits of Batman Begins. So it looks like we have a new excuse for a boy's night out. Take advantage, my friends.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Ok, the big mistake is that the evil plot hatched by the villains involves using a large microwave device to vaporize the city's water supply. Microwaves energize water atoms which results in their releasing the energy as heat. Well, folks, anything that vaporizes water by merely passing by it would also vaporize every living thing since we're composed primarily of the stuff. It would be an effective weapon as intended, but it would play hell on the plot because not only would the citizens of Gotham pop like nasty water balloons, so would Batman and the bad guys, quickly bringing the movie to a gorily splashy halt. Apparently, the writers have never seen JoeCartoon.com's classics exploring that very messy fact.