“Batkid Begins”: A True Story With Hope

In the end, the film leaves audiences to decide; did Miles need the world for inspiration? Or did the world need Miles? Warner Brothers, about Batkid Begins

Remember Batkid? In 2013 Miles Scott, a five-year-old with leukemia, arguably had the best Make-a-Wish day ever when the city of San Francisco hosted his debut. Dana Nachman‘s documentary Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World explains.

Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter: “Whether Miles will remember the day exactly in the manner it’s portrayed in the film has yet to be determined, but for millions of people worldwide, it’s likely to remain one of the more notable experiences in recent collective memory.”

The trailer will remind you of Batkid’s place in the national news:

Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News: “Most of the first part of ‘Batkid’ focuses on Patricia Wilson, the CEO of Make-A-Wish, Greater Bay Area. She came up with the idea and then ran with it. Wilson comes across as a never-say-never sparkplug, a go-getter whose creativity and persuasiveness led to the main event…”

But then there’s the Batkid, whose parents feared would be too shy regarding all the fuss. “Enter Eric ‘E.J.’ Johnston, who assumed the identity of Batman, and spent time with Miles to put him at ease. Some of the best scenes in ‘Batkid’ find E.J. and Miles bonding and connecting…”

Tim Grierson, Paste, takes issue, though, with how the story is presented: “…Nachman’s subjects are so blandly good—so innocuously wholesome—that the film too closely resembles a promotional video or a rote behind-the-scenes highlight reel.”

As does Elise Nakhnikian, Slant:

Audiences are hard-wired to root for the title character, a round-cheeked little farm boy who had battled leukemia for years by the time he entered first grade, as conveyed in an opening sequence that—in a rare flash of visual creativity for the film—tells his story in comic-book form. The live-action Miles glimpsed in footage taken before, during, and after the event has his scene-stealing moments, especially after he dons his costume and channels his hero, walking ‘like he weighs 200 pounds,’ as one of his parents puts it. But as the story of his big day unfolds, any hope of meaningful reflection or insight is doused by a steady drip of often redundant and banal observations, mostly about the unprecedented size or cooperative spirit of the crowd that showed up to cheer him on.

On the other hand, a comforting conclusion from Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News: “‘Batkid Begins’ doesn’t have answers for our many troubles, nor will it change the world, but it provides hope for humanity, and that’s something we surely need to see more of right now.”

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