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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Film critics hail Batman revival
Batman Begins
Eight years on, Christopher Nolan has revitalised the Caped Crusader
Batman Begins, which opens in the US on Wednesday, looks set to be a box office hit after a slew of positive reviews from the world's press.

Directed by Britain's Christopher Nolan, best known for the acclaimed film Memento, it is the fifth film in the comic book franchise since 1989.

The character was temporarily shelved after the last two films met with poor reviews and disappointing ticket sales.

Now the Hollywood Reporter has called Nolan's revival "a minor miracle".

"For Christopher Nolan to turn Batman Begins into such a smart, gritty, brooding, visceral experience is astonishing," wrote one critic in the Los Angeles trade paper.

Batman Begins
The film explores the early years of Bruce Wayne

"Truly, Batman does begin again."

The prequel, which explores how Bruce Wayne evolves into the Caped Crusader following the murder of his parents, stars Briton Christian Bale in the lead role.

The 31-year-old American Psycho star steps into the shoes of the superhero previously played by George Clooney, Val Kilmer and Michael Keaton.

"As sleek as a panther, with cheekbones that look sharp enough to give even an ardent lover pause, Mr Bale makes a superbly menacing avenger," wrote the reviewer in the New York Times.

"But what makes this Batman so enjoyable is how Mr Nolan balances the story's dark elements with its light, and arranges the familiar genre elements in new, unforeseen ways."

Christian Bale in Batman Begins
Welsh-born Bale has been praised for his dark interpretation

And Screen International's Mike Goodridge said Nolan went "back to the drawing board" with the Batman character.

He said the film was "an intensely dramatic, muscular action adventure picture which should be successful enough to kickstart the franchise for Warner Bros".

The film features a high-profile cast including Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman.

"After an eight-year hiatus, the Batman franchise has finally found its way," wrote US film critic Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Katie Holmes and Christian Bale in Batman Begins
Eight years on, Christian Bale has revitalised the Caped Crusader

"This is the Batman movie I've been waiting for... more emphasis on story and character and less emphasis on high-tech action was just what was needed."

Empire Magazine's Kim Newman described the film as "significantly grittier than previous Bat-beginnings", adding it "finds new things to do with, and say about, a character who's been around since 1938".

In a year when the franchise watchword is 'dark', this delivers the full noir with a side order of dementia," he said.

But not everyone has been impressed by the action blockbuster.

"Christian Bale makes the best Batman since Warner Bros revived the franchise in 1989: His voice is right, and the mask fits his face," said the critic in USA Today.

But they added: "No fan of cult director Christopher Nolan is going to regard this respectable effort as anything but a comedown from 2001's Memento."

And Le Monde's Jacques Mandelbaum said although Bale put in a strong performance, there was an overabundance of special effects.

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Batman receives European premiere
13 Jun 05 |  Entertainment
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07 Jun 05 |  Entertainment
Bale begins move into big league
06 Jun 05 |  Entertainment


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