I'm usually a Tim Burton hater (see my forthcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory review), but in the case of the first Batman movie, I really liked it. Maybe I was under the influence of the girl I was at the theater with (Christy), but I did like it. Batman has always had a cheesy aspect because of the Adam West era. The first Batman movie was just a little cheesy and comic, but introduced the noir look to the series (at least beyond the comic itself).
Batman Begins harks back to the days of the first movie, though this time it takes the noir feeling and makes it more serious. Forgetting about the deranged days where Warner Brothers thought hiring Joel Schumacher was a good idea, they hired a far more competent director and writer than Burton in Chris Nolan. This guy seems like he can't lose when it comes to making quality movies.
However, there's something missing from Batman Begins: a desire to see it again. This is the only thing that plagues Nolan's work. Once I saw Memento, I had no need or desire to see it again. For comic book movies, creating this feeling in the audience isn't just desirable, it's necessary. Comic book movies are generally aimed towards a more narrow audience than, say, Titanic, so you've gotta cash in on repeat business. Compare this to the X-Men movies that Bryan Singer put together. After seeing those, I basically wanted to stay for the next showing. WB struck gold by having him direct Superman Returns. In fact, basically every movie Singer has ever done made me want to watch it again, starting with The Usual Suspects, of course.
The casting is decent, not great. For one thing, I just can't take any movie with Michael Caine very seriously anymore. Also, for all of the press Katie Holmes created for herself last summer to publicize this movie, she is almost invisible in Batman Begins. Furthermore, she's 26 and still looks 13. She should be left to doing teenager movies and shows, her acting isn't that great anyway.
And remember how everyone complained about Michael Keaton being Batman? Everyone was like "What's up with that?" Actually, it might have been Burton's most brilliant move. Keaton is a normal looking guy in real life. To think he's Batman is really strange, and that's what's perfect about it. Anyway, considering how many people complained about Keaton, what's up with every actor since him doing exactly the same schtick when playing Batman? Christian Bale is neither better nor worse than Keaton, Clooney or Kilmer, he's just the same.
Rating: Good/Good, rent it (don't buy it) on DVD.