It’s a new era and a brand new format for movie lovers and Warner Bros. is offering up their “Batman” movie anthology from the 1990’s on 4K UHD for those that have converted. With “Batman” also celebrating its thirtieth anniversary (where does the time go?) since its theatrical release, Tim Burton’s iconic adaptation of the DC Comics hero manages to appear once again in an even higher definition making it—uh—Battier? Burtoner? In either case, the good news is “Batman” is still a solid iteration of the Dark Knight, which is all that counts.
Based on the character created by Bill Finger, “Batman” is set in Gotham City, a massive metropolitan plagued with crime and corruption. Lurking in the shadows is Batman, a mythical vigilante who, by day is wealthy businessman Bruce Wayne. After witnessing his parents murdered when he was a child, and vowed to battle crime. After fighting Batman, gangster Jack Napier survives a fall in to a vat of toxic waste which disfigures him, and he is reborn as the lunatic known as the Joker. Now Batman has to stop the Joker before he destroys Gotham with his poison laugh gas.
Tim Burton’s “Batman” still holds up fairly well, even in a day and age where comic book movies and superhero films are big money and common place. Tim Burton’s adaptation came at a time where superhero movies were considered a gamble for studios, and it has managed to appreciate in value. While it’s certainly flawed here and there with a flat soundtrack (Sorry, Prince) and a clear disconnect between Joker and Batman whom almost never share the screen together, “Batman” makes up for it. The production design is beautiful, painting Gotham as a murky, Gothic canyon of darkness and crime that is stuck in an element of evil. Michael Keaton is fantastic as Bruce Wayne, the reserved millionaire overwhelmed by Joker’s reign of crime. It’s still quintessential viewing for comic book fans and film buffs alike.
Along with a crisp new 4K transfer, Warner includes a Blu-Ray copy, as well as a Digital Copy. The 4K UHD release only brings a vintage commentary by Tim Burton. The Blu-Ray contains the same track along with the same features ported over from the Digibook, and Anthology box set. There’s the forty one minute “Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman” an exploration in to Batman’s creation, his roots, various incarnations, his lure, and so much more. “Shadows of the Bat” is a seventy two minute wonderful documentary covering the genesis of the original Burton film, his massive cast, and how the atmosphere on set made the film work.
“Beyond Batman” is a fifty one minute series of great five mini-docs focusing on the film’s various elements including cinematography, make-up, props, vehicles, costumes, and musical score. “The Heroes and the Villains” is a twenty minute series of seven video profiles examining Bruce Wayne, the Joker, Vicki Vale, Commissioner Gordon, Bob the Goon, Alexander Knox, and Harvey Dent. There’s a four minute Storyboard Sequence showing the deleted Robin introduction, “On the Set with Bob Kane,” a three minute visit with the “creator” of Batman who discusses the character and Burton’s film. Finally there are three Prince Music Videos for the “Batman” soundtrack, and the original theatrical trailer.