I gave it an A-. It is the third best Batman movie yet, behind Mask of the Phantasm and Tim Burton’s first Batman film.
I saw the movie as having two flaws. One, the character’s origin deviates so strongly from Batman’s that it could be an all new vigilante character instead (it’s even closer to being a remake of the last Shadow movie than it is to being about Batman). Two, the movie isn’t much fun. It’s intense, it’s exciting, but when something fun or funny happens (and this is what Michael Caine mainly brings to the movie), it seems incongruous. Oh, now it’s okay to laugh?
The movie is right that Bruce Wayne needed a substitute father figure to help him find direction after the death of his parents. Alfred — who never worked for Bruce’s parents and didn’t meet Bruce until he was grown up — is often retconned into that role. For Superland, I used the Shadow for that role, giving Bruce a benevolent, albeit hard-edged mentor.
Hooray that Rah’s al-Ghul had the stupid Lazurus Pit written out of his character! The movie got it right, taking the sci fi element out of that character and presenting him as just a man. An evil man who managed to fool Bruce way too long (I guess he wasn’t the world’s greatest detective yet, or maybe Bruce had seen him in Star Wars I and thought he was one of the good guys!).
Christian Bale is good, though clearly not the best Batman we’ve ever had (I would rank Kevin Conroy, Adam West, and Michael Keaton all higher). Katie Holmes is passable (I kept cracking jokes about her trying to convert Bruce to scientology). The Scarecrow looks like a refugee from a tv teen-hunk show, but the character makes sense and under-emphasizing his supervillain-ness keeps the movie from feeling overwhelmed by two main villains. Gary Oldman is terrific. I could have watched a whole movie about young Commissioner Gordon!