I must start this review by saying that this is not only one of the best films I've seen this year, it's also (in my opinion) one of the greatest films I've ever had the pleasure of viewing.
Assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes, Dawson's Creek) serves very little purpose in this film other than moral support and a love interest for Bruce. Her character isn't overly interesting, and Ms. Holmes doesn't play the part of a D.A. very well (she comes off as a sweet small town girl, which I'm convinced is the only part she can ever play properly), and the love subplot doesn't add very much to the story of the film overall. The important contributions to the film her character makes, could've easily been replaced by Harvey Dent, but I suppose Warner Bros. figured because this is a Batman film, and every previous one had a love interest for Bruce, this one should, too. I also wish we could've saw more of Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe, The Last Samurai) than we did, because I have a high appreciation for the actor who portrays him.
This is the first Batman film to have a screenwriter, director, and star who love the comic books, and let me tell you, it shows. The mood of Gotham City is perfect, it's dark, without being gothic (unlike Tim Burton's films). This film does it's best to bring The Batman out of his campy superhero stereotype and into the real world, and it succeeds incredibly. From the realistic and believable explanations of where Bruce's Batgear came from, to how he aquires it, and how he uses it. The film also does a fantastic job of showing us just why The Batman is something to be feared, and just how he is able to defeat criminals the way he does. These are all things previous Batflick's have lacked, yet it doesn't become appearent until you watch this film. After you see Batman Begins, you'll wonder just why none of this was ever addressed before, and why you were ever satisfied with the previous films. The acting, in my opinion, is Oscar-calibur. Christian Bale was born for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, even in sitting in a movie theatre you can't help but feel a little intimidated by him at certain points. Michael Caine as Alfred, is in my opinion, the gem of the film. You can feel the love he has for the Wayne family, and the pain that he himself hides over their loss. Alfred is much much more than a Butler in this film, he loves Bruce like a son, and you can feel it. Morgan Freeman is great as Lucius Fox, a man in charge of the division of Wayne Enterprises where Bruce gets the Batgear from. You feel bad for him that he has gotten the short end of the stick by the company, but he takes it all in stride, and is a quite likable character. My favourite line of his in the film goes something like this "Mr. Wayne, if you don't tell me what you're doing with these, then I won't have to lie if someone asks. But don't think of me as stupid." Gary Oldman's portrayal of Gordon is easily the best yet, and the (eventual) friendship between him and Batman is finally showed on screen, and it's about time. He plays the "last good cop" very convincingly, and his character is just another reason why you'll look back at the older films and ask yourself "Why didn't someone do this before?". In general, just about every character in the film will have you caring about them by the end of the film. The action in the film is top-notch, with exciting fights, and an awesome Batmobile chase through the streets of Gotham (in fact, this was probably the mst exciting part of the movie).
This is a movie you will never get sick of seeing, and it completely puts the rest of the franchise to shame. If Warner Bros. can keep (most) of the same cast for several more films, then they will have a winning franchise on their hands. I honestly hope there are more many Batman films like this in the future. I refer to the Batman films as "Batflicks", yet I will never do so with this film, because it deserves so much more than that. I cannot recomend this film enough, and it is one of the only films to get a perfect score from me.
**** out of ****