Gladiator. Aliens. Saving Private Ryan. The Matrix. The Bourne Identity. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Every once in a while, the Hollywood* machine manages to produce a film that manages to effectively meld spectacular action and drama. It's not an easy task; I really believe that the two together tend to dilute one another. Drama is dependant on drawing the audience's heart, soul and mind into a story. Action is about getting their hearts racing. They are like nitro and glycerin; it takes an accomplished director to put the two together.
I think superhero movies are great examples of this difficulty. I really enjoyed the X-Men and Spiderman movies, but mostly on a surface level. They were a lot of fun; but the superb action tended to dilute the drama for me.
But sometimes, just sometimes, someone gets it right. Maximus asking his fellow captors if any of them have been in the army; "Then you can help me." Or Tom Hanks' "See you on the beach."
Batman Begins is another of those movies. It just... it just kicked ass. This is without a doubt the best superhero movie ever made; more than that, it's going to be on of the best movies of the year. It's on my radar the way no other superhero movie ever has been before. I loved Spiderman 2, but I'd rather watch Lost in Translation. The former I remember as a particularily tasty treat; the latter I harbour as a warm memory.
See Joel's blog for a description of the characters. They were fantastic. The action was great. it was just... yeah, it was ALL great.
It's fighting The Life Aquatic and Revenge of the Sith in my mind for favourite movie of the year. RotS, I believe, will slowly lose luster as I view it more critically.
So right now, Batman Begins is either the best or second best movie I've seen this year. That's a first for an action movie, nevermind a superhero movie. That's how good it was. I'm blown away.