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Holy high definition Batman!
The Caped Crusader comes to Blu-ray Disc!

With the arrival of BATMAN: THE MOVIE ($40) on Blu-ray, fans of the campy 1960ís television series couldnít be happier, that is, unless Fox and DC Comics could come to an agreement and get the BATMAN TV series itself out on DVD or Blu-ray. Well, for now, fans will have to settle for owning this hi-def keepsake of the classic camp TV series. Fortunately the folks at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have done a truly great job with the Blu-ray release, and have produced a fine looking presentation with some bat-tastic supplements.

For those unfamiliar with BATMAN: THE MOVIE, the 1966 film arrived in theaters at the height of the television series popularity. Based upon the legendary character, this incarnation of Batman is very much like a comic book brought to life- taking a very tongue-in-cheek approach to the material. Absurd, stilted dialogue seems lifted from the comic book page, as does the framing of the action sequences, which have all the stylistic flourishes of the print medium- when else has "Pow!" "Whap!" "Thwack!" "Biff!" "Klonk!" and "KerPlop!" ever been spelled out on the screen in the midst of a fight. The plot of BATMAN: THE MOVIE finds Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) facing off against four of Gotham Cityís worst super-criminals, as The Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith) and The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) all join forces to form a United Underworld and thwart the Dynamic Duo. TV series regulars Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Stafford Repp and Madge Blake also make appearances in BATMAN: THE MOVIE.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made BATMAN: THE MOVIE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is really quite nice, perfectly rendering this forty-plus year old film. Image sharpness and detail in on the money for a production of this vintage. The hyper-realistic levels of detail found in newer productions arenít here, but wow, there is a lot more detail here than this reviewer has ever seen before. Heck, there is probably too much detail here, as the cheapness of sets, not to mention the obvious stunt doubles become way too obvious in hi-def. Process shots are softer than the principal photography. Colors are bright and really beautiful to behold; however, many of the flesh tones are clearly marked Max Factor. Blacks appear accurate, as do the whites. Contrast is just fine for a film of this vintage, as is the level of shadow detail. The film elements are very clean for their age. Grain is ever present, but usually very mild.

BATMAN: THE MOVIE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering the filmís monaural origins, there isnít too much going on in the outlying channels. Actually, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack isnít particularly directional, and for the most part, plays like fattened up monaural. The sound is clean and free form hiss or age related distortions. Dialogue is always easy to understand and the actorsí voices have a great sense of character. English and French monaural tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some great supplemental features. Starting things off is my favorite feature- a running Audio Commentary with stars Adam West and Burt Ward. This is an entertaining commentary track that allows the actors to joke, reminisce and supply fans with wonderful anecdotes and details about the movie and TV show. A second Audio Commentary by screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr. is also included. An Isolated Score in DTS-HD Master Audio can also be found on the disc. Holy Trivia Track, Batman! offers Pop-Up bits of information for fans to savor. BATMAN on Location: Mapping the Movie offers maps and direction to the various locations where the film was shot.

Three new hi-def Featurettes have been produced for the Blu-ray release: Batman: A Dynamic Legacy (nearly thirty minutes on the series and filmís impact), Caped Crusaders: A Heroes Tribute (twelve minutes on the two actors who brought Batman & Robin to life) and Gotham Cityís Most Wanted (fifteen minute tribute to the actors that embodied the villains). From the 2001 DVD, comes the 35th Anniversary Batman Featurette with on camera interviews with Adam West and Burt Ward. The Batmobile Revealed features George Barris and looks at the creation and history of one of the most famous automobiles of all time. The Batmobile Interactive Tour- A 360 Degree Navigational Tour supplements the preceding program with a more detailed look at the car itself. Extensive Still Galleries are present on the disc; From The Vaults Of Adam West features the actorís personal pictures from the production, while the Behind The Scenes Still Gallery offers up studio production materials. Closing out the supplements is an English Theatrical Trailer, a Spanish Trailer and an English Theatrical Teaser.

BATMAN: THE MOVIE is a camp classic that has been beautifully rendered on Blu-ray. When one takes into account, the nice body of supplements, this disc is terrific upgrade from the DVD release. Hopefully, the Blu-ray Disc will be the precursor to the TV series release on some home format.



Batman: The Movie [Blu-ray] (1966)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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