The Bat, The Cat, and The Penguin return for the Dark Knight’s latest cinematic adventure The Batman. Writer/Director Matt Reeves teams with Robert Pattinson to deliver a slick new Film Noir styled take on the world’s greatest detective as he confronts a serial killer known only as the Riddler. Warner Bros brings an impressive Blu-ray release to the market with a terrific video transfer, a demo-worthy Atmos track, and some worthwhile bonus features. Highly Recommended
Another day, another take on the world’s greatest detective. With the fan-dubbed DCEU “Snyderverse” floundering in the wake of the critical drubbing of Batman v Superman and the horrible theatrical version of Justice League and Ben Affleck’s exit from his own solo project, Planet of the Apes shepherd Matt Reeves was brought in to deliver hungry Bat-fans a fresh new take on the masked vigilante. Moving away from the heavily Frank Miller-inspired material of the last films, Reeves' The Batman pulls pieces of the classic Long Halloween storyline while cherrypicking bits and pieces of Batman lore that’s part classic early Bill Finger Batman and part gritty hard-boiled Dashiell Hammett detective with nods to the Arkham games and even the 1966 television series. The cape and cowl are practically lifted from Mike Mignola’s Gotham By Gaslight design.
For my part, I loved The Batman, gleefully going to see it at IMAX three times in as many weeks ahead of its arrival on HBO Max where I've honestly lost track how many times I've watched it. This is the kind of thing I want to see in a Batman film for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Nolan films are good - well the first two of the three - but Batman still was relatively an incidental figure compared to the life of Bruce Wayne when it should be the other way around. Bruce Wayne is Batman, not Batman is Bruce Wayne. This Batman is still raw and new to the streets but cuts an imposing figure ready to strike fear into the hearts of Gotham’s criminal element. This film gives him strikingly little time out of the cape and cowl and when he is out from under the mask, he’s far from the attractive hunky billionaire playboy. This nightlife of crimefighting has taken its toll and he genuinely looks like crap.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Batman storms onto Blu-ray with a three-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital set. The film is pressed on a single BD-50 disc with an extra BD-25 disc to house the bonus features. The discs are housed in a standard keepcase with identical slipcover artwork. Each disc loads to a static image main menu with basic navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. The included digital copy can be redeemed through Movies Anywhere and will port to all connected supported digital streaming services.
In 1080p The Batman turns in a fantastic presentation showing there’s a lot of life for the format if you’re not gung-ho on the 4K scene. The biggest difference between formats is this presentation is notably a bit brighter, and while that might help you see more of any given sequence, it also doesn’t enable the image to hit those deep inky blacks and loses some of the nuanced shadow gradience. But considering this disc doesn’t come packed with Dolby Vision or HDR10, that is a small quibble for an otherwise fantastic presentation. Details are terrific with fine facial features, makeup effects, and details in Batman’s costuming or Penguin’s makeup coming through beautifully. Colors are a bit restrained considering the majority of the film is at night and lit with sodium street lamps, but when primaries do come into play they hold nicely. Reds get a lot of attention in that regard. My only other quibble is with image depth feeling a bit shallow, especially with some of the narrow-focus shots, but again a small thing that most folks won’t notice or care about. Truly, if there wasn’t a superior 4K release, this would be top of the heap but for folks not looking to upgrade, this is a terrific presentation.
Both the 4K and 1080p Blu-ray releases score a fantastic Dolby Atmos audio mix. Since this is a very wet movie with a lot of rain, there’s plenty of near-constant overhead activity in the height channels. Likewise, even in the quietest scenes of Arkham or the crime scene in the Mayor’s mansion, there’s plenty of surround activity to keep the channels active and fully engaged. Dialog is never an issue even with a lot of whispering and low-voiced conversations. Never felt the need to compensate there. Action sequences like the big car chase, the final climactic fight sequence, or the pulsating music of the Iceberg Lounge go full immersion blasting throughout the channels without drowning out score, dialog, or key sound effects. Michael Giacchino’s score is a great accompaniment to any given scene and is well placed through the front/center/height channels and for some segments into the sides. Then you have the guttural screeching engine of the Batmobile punching LFE nicely on top of several key sequences throughout the film. Not that you need to, but play it loud! I’m glad most of my neighbors work during the day otherwise I wouldn’t get away with half the movies I watch to review and this was a fun one to crank up.
The Batman is the sort of Batman flick I’ve wanted to see on the big screen for a long time now. While past films have had their highlights with the characters, it didn’t feel like Matt Reeves pulled from one or two sources but the entire 80-year history of comics, television shows, films, and video games to create a singular experience. I loved it and I can’t wait for more.
The Batman storms onto Blu-ray with an impressive 1080p transfer and an excellent Dolby Atmos audio mix. Not to leave anything on the floor, WB assembled a nice selection of bonus features that offer up nice insights into the making of the film beyond the silly talking head EPK features. If you’re not rolling 4K yet, this disc will hold point in your collection. Highly Recommended.