Batman and Batman Returns Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Long Live the Bat. Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Celebrates the 80th Anniversary of DC’s Popular Super Hero Batman with the Ultra HD Blu-ray releases of Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Check out Ralph Potts’ Ultra HD Blu-ray review Batman and Batman Returns.

 

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

93

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 1989, 1992
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 126/126 minutes
Genre: Fantasy/Action

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito, Christopher Walken
Directed by: Tim Burton
Music by: Danny Elfman
Written by: Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren, Daniel Waters
Region Code: A

Release Date: June 4, 2019

“Long Live the Bat”

Synopsis:

Batman: “The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.” – Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

Batman Returns: “When a corrupt businessman and the grotesque Penguin plot to take control of Gotham City, only Batman can stop them, while the Catwoman has her own agenda.” – Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

My Take:

Batman: Having witnessed his parents’ brutal murder as a child, millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) fights crime in Gotham City disguised as Batman, a costumed hero who strikes fear into the hearts of villains. But when a deformed madman who calls himself “The Joker” (Jack Nicholson) seizes control of Gotham’s criminal underworld, Batman must face his most ruthless nemesis ever while protecting both his identity and his love interest, reporter Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger).

Batman Returns:The monstrous Penguin (Danny DeVito), who lives in the sewers beneath Gotham, joins up with wicked shock-headed businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) to topple the Batman (Michael Keaton) once and for all. But when Shreck’s timid assistant, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), finds out, and Shreck tries to kill her, she is transformed into the sexy Catwoman. She teams up with the Penguin and Shreck to destroy Batman, but sparks fly unexpectedly when she confronts the caped crusader.

Prior the 1989’s Batman our onscreen reference for Batman was that of Adam West. That isn’t to take anything away from him, the TV series or his place in our hearts. However, that seemed a far cry from the caped crusader as depicted in the DC world that many were fans of. When Tim Burton’s Batman debuted in theaters in 1989 I was there to see what it was all about. I had serious reservations about the choice to cast Michael Keaton in the lead role.

So, while I really enjoyed Tim Burton’s vision, the handling of the character’s depiction, from that of cheesy and comedic, to one of themes that would introduce us to the Dark Knight, there was still an air of campiness that reminded me of the old TV series. Most of this surrounded the antics of the villain, played to wonderful perfection by Jack Nicholson. The last piece of the puzzle was Michael Keaton’s inability to be physically intimidating. I loved the world of Gotham, the Batmobile and the various elements used as an homage to Batman lore. When all was said and done, I liked Batman but, didn’t love it. It will forever be near and dear to my heart as it gave us a start to the image of the Dark Knight that we were all craving.

Batman Returns brought back director Tim Burton and Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight. It added two iconic villains in The Penguin and Catwoman along with crooked businessman Max Shreck. I enjoyed the storyline in this film a bit more than that of its predecessor and thought that Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer nailed their respective roles, adding a darker thematic edge to them. In my opinion Batman and Batman Returns are the best of the four original films based on Batman. I am so very pleased that Warner Brothers has seen fit to bring them to Ultra HD video with the care that they deserve. Read on to see the results.

The four films in the Batman Collection will be available as 4K UHD singles on June 4 and will also be available as a four-film collection on September 17. The 4K UHD singles and the four-film collection available in September will also include remastered Blu-ray discs of the films.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for action violence and thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Batman and Batman Returns comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 sound.

According to the press documentation Warner remastered Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin from the original 35mm film elements. Each presentation in Ultra HD is derived from the 4K Digital Intermediate.

It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. Batman and Batman Returns have an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that may not result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

Looking at these films the benefits of not only the restoration, but the Ultra HD treatment, are blatantly obvious. From a cinematic perspective, these films were shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind, and that comes through in each presentation. These easily best the original 1080p versions, offering imagery that lifts the vail. I wouldn’t describe either film as overtly colorful, however, there are elements, where the palate of autumn-based hues, sepia tones and variants of blue/red/green benefited from UHD’s wider color gamut, appearing slightly warmer and pleasing to the eye. Resolution gets a boost, delivering eye catching delineation that emboldens sharpness and depth. Close-ups and mid-level shots offer improved refinement and deeper resolvable texture on objects/surfaces, physical features and costumes/clothing.

The addition of high dynamic range added a pleasing visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. I also felt that the dark/low-level sequences benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened their blacks and shadow delineation, which were rendered with excellent dimension, especially when coupled with brighter visual elements. Examples can be seen in the large explosion at the chemical plant in Batman and the series of store front bombings perpetrated by Penguins henchmen (which concludes with the huge gas explosion at the hands of Catwoman “meow”) in Batman Returns.

Without a doubt the Ultra HD renderings reinvigorate each of these films, making for a marked improvement that is easily worth it for fans.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos soundtracks, across the board, I was pleased with how active each mix is. The use of overhead sound objects elevates proportional correlation. When compared to the 5.1 channel mixes, the immersive sound offers a noticeable improvement by opening up the soundstage, elevating the perception of low-level detail. During the various encounters/action/interior/exterior venues featured in each film, the tracks brim with atmospherics, off screen cues and discrete sound effects that when applied using the freedom of object-based placement adds an enriching layer to the film’s soundtrack. This is noticeable right from the beginning, with noteworthy examples being found throughout.

When called for the Dolby Atmos mixes took a subtle or more active approach, and conveyed the spirit and overall feel of the original soundtracks while adding a complimentary element. I thoroughly enjoyed each and had a blast revisiting them.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

 

Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Batman and Batman Returns comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

The Batman collection recently underwent an extensive 4K digital restoration/remastering and the results are superb. The films stylized aesthetic and color schemes are depicted with vivid textures that appear rich without over emphasis. Images are noticeably detailed and sharp which draws out plenty of delineation and texture within clothing, physical features, and objects onscreen. Long range visuals are resolved with above average clarity and depth which highlights the film’s effects shots and dark cinematography. Contrast is spot on and blacks exhibit excellent dynamic range and pop nicely when onscreen with mixed content. Dark sequences have appreciable dimension and sufficient shadow detail that combine with the video’s higher resolution to enhance depth perception. Contrast and brightness are balanced well which enlivens bright scenes and colors while maintaining a discerning level of visibility during low level segments.

The video has an undisturbed grain structure that occasionally takes on more emphasis but I never found it bothersome. Having seen Batman and Batman Returns on home video first on DVD, then Blu-ray, I am pleased to report that this represents their finest video reproduction to date. Warner Brothers has done a wonderful job and, I am appreciative of their efforts.

This Lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (Atmos core) surround mixes accent the video presentations and make regular use of the entire system to drive each film thematic elements. These are well-balanced and active soundtracks that features solid dynamic range and punchy bass response. The surround channels are actively engaged with a blend of discretely placed sounds and spatial ambience that combine with the high level of sonic detail present in the recording to make for an involving and fun surround experience.

Dialog is reproduced with excellent prioritization and clarity through the center channel. The seamless integration of the front and rear channels creates a stable and well-proportioned listening environment. These new surround mixes do a great job of maintaining the essence of the original soundtracks while adding a bit of polish that brings them up to date.

I really appreciated the fact that the updated Atmos mixes made their way on to the Blu-ray versions as well. Kudos to Warner Brothers for that!

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Batman Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Batman Blu-ray (Remastered)
  • Disc 1: Batman Returns Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Batman Returns Blu-ray (Remastered)
  • Legacy Bonus Material Batman
  • Legacy Bonus Material Batman Returns
  • Digital Copy Batman
  • Digital Copy Batman Returns

Final Thoughts:

Batman and Batman Returns are the first two installments in the original Batman Film Collection and hold a special place for many fans who love the Dark Knight. In celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Super Hero created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger Warner Brothers Home Entertainment has remastered them for release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The results on both standard Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray are terrific, delivering faithful and rewarding video quality that is sure to please discerning enthusiasts. Additionally, each film includes updated lossless surround mixes which incorporate Dolby Atmos immersive sound that adds an enriching and complimentary element to each presentation. These Ultra HD Combo Packs from Warner Brothers Home Entertaining come highly recommended for fans and are simply a must have.

 

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 

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