( Max score: 100 )
Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) get a tip that Commodore Schmidlapp (Reginald Denny) is in danger aboard his yacht they launch a rescue mission. But the tip is a set-up by four of the most powerful villains ever who seek to defeat the Dynamic Duo once and for all! Armed with a dehydrator that can turn humans into dust the fearsome foursome, Cat Woman, Joker, Penguin, and Riddler intend to take over the world!
Like many of you who are reading this I was a fan of the Batman TV series from the first moment I heard its theme song. Who could forget, “ na na na na na na na na (short drum role) BATMAN !” Batman and Robin had some pretty cool gadgets, and lets not forget the Batmobile which is still even cool today. There was no question that seeing those characters brought to life along with some very inventive and at times menacing villains made the show seem larger than life to us kids. I must admit that even as a young viewer I found some of their dialogue to be corny but it was a small price to pay to watch them get into the extensive brawls (Pow ! Biff !) with the villainous henchmen. Watching the show as an adult I find that it definitely holds nostalgic value for me. Unfortunately it does not have the same impact in terms of its visuals, storylines, and peril. The dialogue is cheesier than ever and the special effects and gadgets are dated.
Having said that I think that is where Batman retains a lot of its charm and appeal even by today’s standards. Batman as a figure has undergone some pretty extensive changes since this film and the series aired. He has become a darker character and much more of a vigilante then the 60’s character would ever have been capable of. While we had our share of violence in the world back then things were much different than they are today. I think the light hearted nature of the show was more easily accepted then than it would be now. Still, there is something to be said of the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder who are honest to a fault and would never use strong language (Holy Heart failure!).
The movie is silly, funny, outrageous, and fairly entertaining. There are some truly preposterous moments that are quite memorable. The scene with the shark and the Bat shark repellent, and the bomb with what has the be the longest fuse ever as Batman runs from place to place looking for a safe location to let it explode. These are just to name a few of course. Unlike the TV show the film had a larger budget which allowed the use of more Bat gadgetry. Viewers got to see not only the Batmobile but the Batcopter, Batcycle, and Batboat. The villains were every bit as “sinister” here as in the show. It is a tribute to Frank Gorshin, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, and Lee Meriwether. The three men were reprising their roles from the show however Meriwether was a last minute replacement for series regular Julie Newmar who was unavailable. She did a wonderful job as she was every bit as alluring and devious as any of the actresses who played Cat Woman.The plot was your basic take over the world type and kept things nice and simple. In the end just as in the series The Dynamic Duo saves the day. It doesn’t get any better than that…
I suspect that the rating is for brief violence and peril. There is nothing contained here that would be inappropriate or younger viewers.
Batman The Movie comes to Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound with an average bitrate of 3 mbps.
I didn’t have high expectations for this presentation in either regard. After watching it I found that I was pleased with it overall. This is not what I consider to be sharp high definition video however its higher resolution brings out plenty of detail. This is more so the case in close up shots. Distant and panning sequences don’t have the depth and three dimensional feel of the better transfers in HD that I have seen. I will say that fidelity was fairly consistent throughout the duration of the film which was a plus. The wide range of colors used in the costumes and set pieces looked great and very reminiscent of the TV series. I thought that skin tones looked natural with good delineation and subtle texture among the cast (notable exception being The Joker ). Blacks were not very deep however I didn’t find them objectionable. Grain was present (more so in the stock film footage of the rocket blasts) and appeared well preserved. This presentation reminded me very much of what the TV series looked like on my small color TV set back in the day. Considering that I am now watching it projected on a 96” screen that speaks volumes as the print seems to be in excellent shape.
The audio quality was on par with the video in that it exceeded my expectations. Dialogue was clearly rendered through the center channel and didn’t get lost amidst the other sounds included within the mix. The front three speakers carried the majority of the audio. Good left, center, right channel separation and clarity helped provide an open sound field within the front of the room. Dynamics were above average and lacked the realism and potency associated with today’s digital soundtracks. The mix made ample use of the LFE channel but the quality of the bass was questionable as it lacked precision and deep extension. That actually sounds worse than it was. I appreciated its presence as it had more of a positive impact on sound quality than a negative one. The surrounds were used minimally for discrete surround and ambient background detail. When combined the front and rear sound fields had the feeling of being less cohesive. This made front to back pans and explosive elements in the mix less realistic. In the end I was happy with this audio presentation. I thought that all things considered it sounded good.
The bonus supplements contained here are delightful and are sure to please fans. The inclusion of the 2001 featurette was a nice touch as it offers some insightful interviews with West and Ward. The Dynamic Legacy documentary was my favorite as it offers a wealth of information on the show, interviews with historians, cast members, and comic book writers. There are several selectable interactive features and trivia related pieces that play during the film which are fun and informative. The commentary track by Ward and West is interesting as is the short documentary with George Barris on the Batmobile. The Trailers and selectable photo galleries round things out quite nicely. There is lots here and its lots of fun. Enjoy!
I am happy to report that Batman The Movie has come to Blu-ray high definition wrapped in a respectable package that features good audio/video quality and superb bonus feature set. For me it was a fun walk down memory lane. I hope that it has the same nostalgic and entertaining appeal for you as well.