In an early review of Warner Bros.' Batman Begins, which opens on June 15th, TV movie reviewers Roger Ebert and Richard Roper gave the potential blockbuster two enthusiastic 'thumbs up.'  Ebert, who noted that he had not liked any of the four previous Batman feature films, said, 'This time they got it right,' and called Batman Begins 'one of the best films of the year so far.'  His colleague Richard Roper was no less enthusiastic, saying Christopher Nolan's film 'is the best Batman movie ever by far.'


Ebert and Roper praised the film's ensemble acting, the direction of Christopher Nolan and the central performance of Christian Bale as the Dark Knight.  Although such strong early reviews generally create something of a critical backlash, Batman Begins currently rates an 83% 'fresh' rating at the Rotten Tomatoes Website and fan reaction to an early screening at Wizard World Philadelphia was strongly positive.  Writing on, the site's founder Michael Doran ended his review with a rhetorical flourish:  'In 1989 Tim Burton's Batman ushered in the era of the modern superhero/comic book movie.  On June 15th, Batman Begins may well rewrite the rulebook for future superhero movies.  Batman Begins isn't just good.  It's that good.'


Both the comic book industry and Hollywood (which has suffered through 3 months with box office totals lagging behind last year's) have a lot riding on Batman Begins.  It's hard to see how the film could have the incredible merchandising effect of Burton's Batman, but there are a number of quality tie-in products available ranging from Topps' Batman Begins Movie Cards to DC graphic novels (the film's thematic connections to Frank Miller's Batman: Year One should not be neglected) to a raft of toys and figures from Mattel (and DC Direct) and an Upper Deck Batman Starter Set for its DC Trading Card Game, and if it is as good as advertised it should provide a solid boost for retailers and for the industry in general.  As for Hollywood, Batman Begins will usher in the 'meat' of Tinseltown's summer season with subsequent blockbusters such as the Spielberg-directed version of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (June 29th), and the Marvel-based Fantastic Four (July 8th) barraging the box office in ever shortening increments of time.  If Hollywood has any chance of approaching last year's box office totals, it will have to make considerable hay during the period from the second half of June through the end of July -- and it's hard to imagine a film with more pre-release 'sizzle' to get things started than Batman Begins.