Do I need to be administrator to run this program?
No you don't need to be an admin to run it, but that would be an interesting experiment.
Do I need to load the latest java updates?
Normally this is not required, because the IDE contains it's own copy of the Java runtime. It may be worth a try to see if this changes anything.
Is there another way of invoking the executable? Batch?
You have already tried the only alternative way to invoke the IDE. The arduino.exe is just a wrapper to launch the Arduino IDE, which is a Java application. By executing that long command line I had you run for debug purposes, you were basically doing what the arduino.exe was doing.
So, try running as admin first, to see if this changes the behavior.
Then trying updating Java.