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The Batman (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Its a weird place to be where I don’t really NEED any more Batman, but I’m never going to turn down the opportunity for more Batman either. April finally saw the launch of the latest cinematic iteration of the caped crusader with Robert Pattinson in the role. Director Matt Reeves’ The Batman launched to big time accolades, citing it as the best Batman movie ever as well as audiences embracing it to a good chunk of change at the box office. Warner Bros has already put it out in the digital sphere, with rental and HBO MAX streaming now available, but does us collector’s a favor with a rather nicely packaged 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release for “eternal” at home consumption. The Batman was release on May 24th and you can order yourself a copy by clicking on the paid Amazon Associates link that follows this very review.

Film

More than a year of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies—Alfred (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright)—amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens. When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), Oz, aka The Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka The Riddler (Paul Dano). As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.

Matt Reeves’ The Batman is another rock solid take on the Batman mythos, highlighting in successfully hitting those beats and notes we’ve come to love about the fictional Gotham City. While it was marketed and boasted upon as this bold new take, memories can be pretty short. However, while it doesn’t break a whole lot of new ground, it does play in the sandbox quite well and adds its own neat little castles and tools to it as well. Reeves has a gorgeous exorcise in showcasing how one’s vision, voice, style and substance can come through within the comic book superhero genre and also can be successful while being a singular unit and experience. If you’re a Batman fan, its quite the fun endeavor.

I’m well aware we are going to get more of these films. However, for the moment, one of the things I enjoyed most about The Batman is that is is focused on just telling this story, completing this movie and making it such a self sufficient experience. There were no overt teases, no time wasted setting up other sequels, prequels, spin offs or tv shows. Had they decided to not go forward with any more of these, it would have been a bummer, but still a satisfying movie that just was okay with being itself. And that’s one thing I enjoyed most about The Batman discourse, was that we were primarily just focused on this movie, be it favorite scenes/moments or the film’s craft. It was that weekend release and beyond. It was refreshing to just sit and enjoy The Batman without having to talk about the next 3 movies that were coming after it. This was allowed to just be this movie while it was out and I really welcomed that. So kudos to Reeves and company for just focusing on making a film and making it great and then worrying about the future later (Though I’m sure it was on their brain, it doesn’t come across in the film).

The film itself does hide a pretty great one within a very good one. I’m not the first person to notice the length, but this one really could have hacked about 20-30 minutes and been even better a film. Though I never found myself really bored, there were easy areas to tighten up the film and still keep great character stuff while trimming some fat. I have to wonder where the sequel might go in terms of the feature’s length and what do people think if it winds up being shorter? And I hope they don’t expect or want to tell something even longer than this one. We’ll have to see.

The Batman, while a bit too long in the tooth, is a perfectly rock solid and fun start to a new series of caped crusader adventures. For a new generation, this is gonna be their Batman. Like the kid I was in 1989 or seeing the dark knight rise again in 2005, that’s an exciting time for kids and those who may not have been solid on Bruce Wayne and his late night exploits until now. You get loads of new film writers, fans and such that way. While I may not have been as enamored with it as most (Again, I really like it), the prospect of this new series and seeing people really get into it does excite me a lot.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail The Batman arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray a native 4K title. And holy transfer, Batman! This thing is an absolute beauty. One of the strengths of the film (As pointed out be even its detractors), is its cinematography which is brilliantly displayed here on this disc. I even noticed how much it actually feels in line as almost an “in-between” marriage of the aesthetics of Burton and Nolan in this viewing. Details are extremely strong. While, sure, the movie is really dark, but this crisp and sharp image still captures impressive amounts of fine details and even the darkest corners offer many different shades, textures and patterns that pick up quite easily here. Because of such a look reliant on blacks, this 4K is a pretty big step up from the standard Blu-ray. Pop that one in to compare and you’ll quickly see how much of a different this format makes.

Depth: Depth of field is very strong. There’s a lot of “portrait mode” shots woven into the cinamtography here and it captures such depth and pushback extremely well. Separation and spacing is excellent. Character and camera movements are smooth an natural with zero issues coming from any sort of distortions from rapid action.

Black Levels: Here’s your superstar of the 4K disc here and what really makes the presentation. With the ability to take on a natural level of black and saturate it properly, there’s a whole new life here in the film. I had popped in the standard Blu-ray for curiosity and it just cannot deliver the correct tone of the film like this does. It gives a surreal layering, shades and tines that showcase everything. You can still make out rain drops on the darkest areas, textures, smudges and very fine details of the suit. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Not the most colorful of films but the contrasts with the black really help things to pop with the HDR like the salmon sky, fire from the batmobile, fire in general, skin tones, display lights and more.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and slightly washed. Consistency reigns supreme from start to finish. Fine facial details and texture are rampant through any given distance in the frame showcasing freckles, moles, lip texture, make-up brush strokes, wrinkles, scars (Penguin’s face is a trip), grease, sweat and more.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio (US), English Descriptive Audio (UK), German Dolby Atmos, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, German Descriptive Audio, Italian Atmos, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: The Batman‘s Dolby Atmos track is just as fantastic as its image here on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. This Atmos is a loud and very active one. Its well mixed with great layering and depth. Effect, vocals and music are all quite balanced. Each one of them gets their chance to take front and center while never stomping on one another’s feet. This track truly romances and relishes in the score at all times as well. This is quite the experience and top notch Atmos track.

Height: The top channel really has some nice efforts here, with a lot of rain coming down. There’s also plenty going on in the club, debris or Batman falling from above, and scary gunfire in the finale.  There’s plenty more from an active and accurate ceiling channel.

Low Frequency Extension: This film really lets your subwoofer rumble. From the score never giving it a break to engine roaring, gunshots, crashing, glass shattering, painful punches landing and things slamming, you’re going to feel the connection.

Surround Sound Presentation: Yeah, its no surprise this one knows the room and keeps your non-front/center channels quite active. The club scenes are a real treat. The chase has a lot going on side to side with cars constantly being passed. There are also nice, unique contributions that build or add effect to even some of the more quiet scenes in the film. Its an excellent crafting.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp, feeling part of every scene and environment and always plenty audible.

Extras

The Batman is a 3-Disc set that comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a Blu-ray with bonus features. Also included is a redeemable digital code. All bonus materials are found on Disc 3 (standard Blu-ray).

Looking For Vengeance (HD, 4:57) – This takes a look at the fighting styles and overall motif of Batman for this film.

The Batman: Genesis (HD, 6:09) – Here we get into casting, hirings, screentests, visions of who these characters would be and more.

Vengeance Meets Justice (HD, 8:04)  – This featurette focuses on what makes the Riddler for this movie and how to relate and tie him into Batman.

Becoming Catwoman (HD, 8:36) – This tells the tale of Zoe Kravitz journey to be in the film, training and the direction for the character. Includes some screen test footage and fight test footage. Everybody in the production said “its gotta be Zoe Kravitz”.

The Batmobile (HD, 10:51) – “Relentless force. Raw power. Mounted in this frame”. This one goes over the design of the car and how they wanted to make it believable that Bruce Wayne could have produced this car with a mindset on not caring about his family’s wealth. Reeves states that he wanted it to feel like a real car but could also be a battering ram.

Anatomy of the Car Chase (HD, 6:08) – This takes an interesting look at how they pulled off the car chase with set up footage, rehearsal footage, cameras from different angles during the footage and working on the execution. Its quite neat and informative.

Anatomy of the Wing Suit Jump (HD, 6:29) – Another detailed look at a stunt moment in the film as we take a deeper look into Batman’s escape from Gotham PD. It includes some of the comic inspirations and idea behind this and how they translate it to this film.

Vengeance in the Making (HD, 53:41) – This starts on my birthday in 2020 with a pre-production costume screen test for Batman and Catwoman. I have no idea why this wasn’t listed as the first bonus feature as its a full on making of with great detail on the production and full on overview from start to finish. But…hey, at least its here!

Unpacking the Icons (HD, 5:47) – This one goes over the props and costume details in the film for Batman, Riddler, Catwoman and Penguin.

A Transformation: The Penguin (HD, 7:59) – “When I saw the face of the Penguin for the first time, I was BLOWN away!” Here we go over the special effect make-up to create Colin Farrell as the Penguin. Farrell talks about how just seeing the make-up really helped his performance and kick up his imagination a notch.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (HD, 7:47) 

Summary

The Batman may be lengthy but it definitely is a well crafted piece of comic book superhero entertainment trying to push into some territories and stand out from the pack. Warner Bros delivers it with some exquisite video and audio for your top notch at-home presentation. There are a nice slew of extras here to fill in plenty of your time after the credits have finished rolling. Its a definitely pickup for collectors of all cowl shapes and sizes.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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