Nonetheless, fair is fair and I do put one on now and then and give it a chance.
Last night it was Batman Begins, the Nolan-Bale collaboration. I admit to falling asleep after 60-70 minutes due to age and no more than a few very small sips of Tia Maria.
It's a noir lighting movie, no doubt. The opening sequence lasting about 30 minutes starts off well enough with a well and a bat fest scaring poor Bruce Wayne, plus his parents being killed before his eyes. But do we really feel the latter tragedy? Anyway suddenly he's resorted, like a Ronald Colman, to some eastern semi-religious sect where one is trained by Liam Neeson, only it's all very violent and nothing like the spirituality in Colman's case. First thing you know, there are huge explosions and I'm wondering where they came from. Was that gas on top of a mountain or stockpiles of bombs or what? It sure wasn't sharp swords. And, oh yes, Neeson soft-pedals his voice. Poor Christian Bale, attempting to look so manly. What worked for him as a Psycho seems to be working against him here. I just do not see him as overcoming his neurosis, but he does and he goes back to Gotham, which is in the hands of Tom Wilkinson attempting to speak New York American or something. Plus now there is the obligatory female justice official. But having left the fantasy behind with its blue flower and trek through ice, we next get quite a good sequence of the Batcave and bat accouterments, complete with Morgan Freeman. It's so convenient for Batman-to-be, but Wayne's dad's interests ensured this; and, well, given time and money which he had, Bale could have built up these gadgets on his own if he weren't so fortunate as to find them ready-made.
With the screenplay now beginning to bounce back and forth back and forth between all the characters that have been introduced, we hone in on a sequence in which Wilkinson is hoist to a petard, that's the wrong thing to say. No, there's no explosive. He's hoisted to something or other and his drug deal is busted up, a first victory for Batman. Bale begins to play playboy as Wayne as a cover and Katie Holmes, I believe it is, thinks he's a clown, and he almost tells her he's a hero. No, inside he's really not a sex maniac, but she's pissed. I'm losing consciousness by this time and must postpone the effort of watching this spectacle. I've already endured several "action" scenes where it was impossible to decode the fight. Now there is a hallucinogen introduced. Bale's enunciation begins to annoy me, there is some abnormality there or else I'm terribly politically incorrect. I am totally incorrect, it is true, and even glad of it. It's like a lisp but it isn't. Won't people see this and know who Batman is? I tell myself that it's amazing how many famous actors have such things going on, and I'm no better with my physical issues. I tell myself that they've overcome them and deserve great credit. But it still distracts me, but only now and then. I want Bale to appear strong, but he doesn't. I want to identify or at least lose myself in the story but I can't. This has nothing to do with noir, mind you. It's just that unless the rest of it redeems what has been screened so far, I'm inclined to forget superhero noir. I've sampled Keaton and Kilmer, but it's all a blur. A long time ago, I saw Treasure of the Sierra Madre and I went to a theater to see a revival of Gone with the Wind. These movies made impressions and you could revisit them and savor them. Nolan-Bale are not doing it for me, and that's why they're not on my list. Peter Boyle's evil and his performance in "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" are of another order of noir altogether. Nolan couldn't get that kind of thing on screen in this case. Maybe later in the film.
"Batman Begins opened on June 15, 2005, in the United States in 3,858 theaters. It grossed over $48 million in its opening weekend in North America, eventually grossing over $373 million worldwide. The film was met with highly positive reviews, with critics praising the tone, Bale's performance, action sequences, score, direction, and the emotional weight compared to previous Batman films. Batman Begins was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and has often been cited as one of the most influential films of the 2000s."
I'm so totally out of step with this that I'd rather watch Atom Man vs. Superman or Superman and the Mole Men or Superman cartoons. I seem to have disconnected from the culture around me.
At any rate, we have no superhero noir on our list but this one has these high scores (8.2 and 70), so I'm asking others to explain why they are not nominating this acclaimed movie for a prominent place in the neo-noir list.