This movie follows the origins of Batman as laid out in Detective #27 in 1938 far more closely than I believed possible. The characters were all there, and the motivations. Batman has always been about obsessions, and Batman Begins mostly gets that right. I haven't read a comic in over twenty years, but I recognized many the characters right off the... right away, including the cop played excellently by Rutger Hauer (!) who's last name is never mentioned but who is easily identifiable.
It's still a comic book, but I liked how it plays with time. Not merely the structure of the movie, but the bending of time to allow Bruce Wayne's father and mother (and Bruce as a child) to exist in "the Depression" while Bruce Wayne the adult is using futuristic technology. Tim Burton's Batman did some of this as well.
This is a very dark movie, exploring the excesses of obsession and sometimes goes overboard. And it usually works. You can almost believe a character like The Bat Man and a city like Gotham exist. The dialog is mostly cuteness-free, with just a few jokes, but the exchanges between characters are important.
The acting is superb all around. The technobabble works and, unlike the Joker in the Burton movie, you'll know "where does he get those marvelous toys?" (I love the Batmobile). Bruce Wayne is clearly placed in a larger universe than just this movie or his own past.
A few nitpicks that take away from a perfect rating: Some of the violence I thought was too gratuitous. Crane is gaunt enough but not tall enough. Ras al Ghul's first name is consistently pronounced to rhyme with "Banderas" while I preferred the more otherworldly pronunciation in the animated version that rhyme with "creche".
Still, I'd have to rate this the best movie adaptation of a comic book, beating out the first X-Men or the first Spiderman. It's about time movies caught up with the comics!
Sit back and let it all wash over you and you won't be disappointed. On the Shockwave Radio Theater scale of 9-23, I'd be hard pressed not to put Batman Begins somewhere in the 21-22 range.