I am writing this entry as a man who loves to see superheroes on film.
I have waited eighteen years...since Zorro. The Mark of Zorro. Since the walk. That night. And the man with frightened, hollow eyes and a voice like glass being crushed...since all sense left my life. - Bruce Wayne; Batman: Year One
Let me begin by saying: This is how Batman is supposed to be.
Not campy, not silly. No codpieces, no bat-nipples, no freakish statuary out in the middle of town for some odd reason.
This is the classic Dark Knight.
Batman is effectively an terrorist against the criminal element. His primary weapon is fear. The fear invoked by his visage, the fear brought on by his reputation, a primal dread brought on by the very totem he has adopted.
When he mixes it up with the criminals, the cops and the press are not outside waiting for him. He's a legend in the underworld and the police precincts, an urban myth the tabloids like to write about. If you get a glimpse of him, you're either lucky or about to be rendered unconcious.
When he fights, he isn't out in the open, brawling. He's a whisper in the darkness, a shadow at the edge of your vision. He strikes, then he's gone.
This is a crusade for him and it never ends. - Tim Drake; Green Lantern #71
This movie went into not just the how, but the why. What moves him to dress like a bat and risk his life night after night. It goes beyond, "Well, my parents were brutally murdered right in front of me, and it really messed me up, so I decided to become a superhero." That's a far too simplified version of what Batman is.
The most important elements of the mythos were given all the attention the lacked in the previous four films, but not beaten to death. His experience in the cave, the murder, the training and the adoption of the bat as his symbol.
Wearing a mask often changes the wearer's personality...allows acts normally taboo. You should know about that. - Jonathon Crane; Batman #457
Now for the performances of the actors:
Christian Bale managed to do what Keaton, Kilmer and ESPECIALLY Clooney couldn't. Play both Bruce Wayne AND Batman.
Michael Caine was a good Alfred, but I never imagined Alfred as having a Cockney accent.
Gary Oldman's Gordon is SPOT ON. He's got the character DOWN.
Cillian Murphy's Jonathon Crane is sinister and at times downright frightening where it needs to be and he does a good job of playing Crane's hidden psychosis.
Liam Neeson and Ken Watanabe also shine in this movie, but I dare say no more than that.
There are very few loose ends in this movie and everything makes sense. Don't be put off by anything you've read or heard. This film has more than a few surprises. It also has some great nods to both Burton's first Batman film as well as Batman: Year One.
See the movie. If you are at all a fan of Batman, superhero movies, or just great action thrillers, check it out.
Why a bat, sir?
Bats frighten me. It's time my enemies learn to share my dread.
Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne; Batman Begins