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Review: Batkid Begins

This world can be a bleak place. As we grow older all of the wonder, excitement, and joy of life begins to fade. However, there are those rare moments where you connect with your inner child again, and the world once again becomes a place where anything can happen. Simply put, Batkid Begins is one of those moments.

The documentary follows the Scott family, primarily their son Miles who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was only 18 months old.  Once Miles had hit four the Scott family decided it was time to approach the Make A Wish foundation, a non-profit organization that grants “wishes” to children with life threatening medical conditions. What was Miles’ one wish? “I wish to be Batman!”.

You see, Miles was obsessed with superheroes, and he always came back to one, Batman.

Enter Patricia Wilson, the Executive Director of Make-A-Wish foundation: San Francisco Bay Area, the individual tasked with granting this wish. Spunky, persistent, and imaginative, Patricia comes up with the idea that captured everyone’s heart, and quickly brings in Eric Johnston, a man who could be considered a real life Bruce Wayne with his acrobatic skill and command of technology, to play Batman. Thus begins a humorous and heartwarming journey to and through the “Day That Batkid Saved Gotham City”.

Miles’ story is an extremely heart warming one, but the initial question one has to ask is, “Can this keep me engaged for an hour and a half?”. Many of us have heard this story already via social media or the news, and that was the immediate challenges that director Dana Nachman had to face. Nachman manages to find something deeper than any 15 minutes local news special can capture, and her take on visually engaging the audience with the story are often stokes of genius. For instance, to illustrate the moment that Miles’ parents found out he had leukemia Nachman takes a literal approach and tells the story via motion comic. The comic itself is poorly animated unfortunately, but still proves to be an enjoyable experience. Additionally, the use of sweeping skyline shots of San Francisco, which mirror those of the Dark Knight Trilogy, are outstanding and just familiar enough to make the documentary seem like an odd extension to the trilogy itself. The soundtrack was the element of the film that let me down. Cliche and dull, it would often leave the documentary feeling more like a well produced infomercial, pulling the audience from the experience.

Lastly, Kurt Kuenne’s masterful mixed media edit continually allowed the audience to grasp the scope of what this “wish” was becoming and how it was affecting those involved. Low in frills and high in substance his pacing gives you time to immerse yourself in the story, building you up to the exciting and enthralling big day.

Then there is Miles and all the wonderful people that dedicated themselves to making his dream come true. It isn’t often that you experience a story with this degree of genuine compassion. As the story unfolds and the masses gather to watch Batkid save the day, we witness something light up in people as they become a part of this moment. Furthermore, the audience feels something light up within themselves. Here lies the true beauty of this film, it’s ability to engage the child in you.

At the end of the day, stories like this need to be shared, and it’s as simple as that. In a world riddled with issues you often forget that this degree of compassion is possible, and Batkid Begins succeeds in reminding us that magic moments like this are possible.

[star v=4]

Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a Toronto based filmmaker and creative mad man. Legend has it that he spent most of his childhood locked away in a cell beta testing Netflix.