I can’t believe it’s been thirty years since Tim Burton took the world and box office by storm with his take on one of the greatest comic book heroes of all time, Batman. It feels almost like yesterday when it was announced that Michael Keaton would don the cape and cowl, which caused all kinds of backlash as he was mainly known for comedy movies (and after just starring in Burton’s other masterpiece, Beetlejuice).
But when Jack Nicholson was cast as the Joker, and the late Prince committed to doing the songs for the soundtrack, everyone knew they were in for a ride. And what a ride it was, as it became one of the biggest and coolest films ever. After all this time, I’m so glad it gets the 4K HDR treatment it deserves with the Batman 4K Blu-ray release. Fans of the movie, the DC Comics character, or just great movies will go bats for this one.
Most people know all about this film, but just in case, it takes place in Gotham City where Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) is cleaning up crime on the streets as his superhero alter ego, Batman, while the mayor and other city officials are doing their part to stop crime so they can throw a 200th anniversary for Gotham. Naturally, the crime bosses aren’t too happy about this, namely Carl Grissom (Jack Palance) who sends his number one guy Jack (Jack Nicholson) out on a mission to stop the city officials from messing up their business. This goes wrong for them as Batman shows up to save the day, but not without causing an accident that leads to Jack falling in a vat of chemicals and becoming the Joker.
Throw in a local reporter named Knox (Robert Wuhl) and photographer Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) into the mix as they try to figure out who or what Batman is, which complicates things for Bruce as he learns Jack is connected to his past and is determined to take him down, and you have one dark and crazy comic book film. Just like I did when I was younger, I fell in love with this movie all over again as Tim Burton did a spectacular job pulling everything together to make this work, from the amazing cast to the gloomy look of Gotham City.
Speaking of looks, while the film shows its age in spots, the 4K HDR treatment is amazing here. There’s so much added detail that brings the visuals to life, I was able to see things I didn’t notice before such as color and fabric details on the character’s clothes, etc. Then there’s the enhanced Dolby HD audio that packs in every piece of sound that make this feel like I was watching an entirely new film.
There’s also plenty of special features like audio commentary by director Tim Burton, and others from the previous home video releases of this film that are sadly not enhanced in HD, but are still great to look at. “On the Set With Bob Kane” was a nice treat, as it was good he got a chance to see just how amazing the film would become, “Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman” goes into the characters past, then there’s a collection of featurettes that run for nearly an hour and a half that goes over the process of making the film from start to finish, some that go behind the scenes of making the Batmobile, the bat gadgets, giving Gotham its gloomy look, and more.
Batman is one of the best films out there for so many reasons, but mainly thanks to its impressive and spot on cast and performances. This combined with a still impressive dark and gloomy look, a fitting score by Danny Elfman, and a sweet 4K HDR remaster make this release a batty good time.