This is the set of original Batman movies, (i.e. prior to the Nolan trilogy reboot) consisting of the two movies directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton, and the two Joel Schumacher movies which nearly killed off the franchise as a whole. The a/v quality of the 4k release is much improved for all the movies, at least over the DVD box set put out years ago. There are a ton of bonus features, the best of which, in my opinion, is the "Shadows of The Bat" feature which is a multi-part telling of the history of Batman, which spans across all the discs. There are also commentary tracks on each movie and a ton of behind the scenes and making-of features. I believe all the extras are carried over from the prior releases, both the prior DVD box set release, and the prior blu-ray releases, so the upgrade to 4k is really the only reason to get this set. For the people who despise Batman Forever, and/or Batman and Robin, you do have the option of purchasing the discs individually, so you do not have to pay for whatever movie(s) you do not want.
This is really the movie that reinvigorated the superhero genre since the Superman movies had puttered out with the release of Superman IV (which was pretty much the Batman & Robin of that series). Michael Keaton was a very controversial choice to play Batman, having a mostly comedy background, a lot of people did not think he could pull it off. Thankfully, the casting and lead up was pre-internet trolling so the whining was kept to a minimum. Nevertheless, he did a great job the role, especially playing Bruce with the right level of emotional turmoil. It was harder to buy him as Batman given that he really did not get into the kind of shape that actors in the superhero movies of today at least some of them, (e.g., Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans) have to get in to, but the suit did a pretty good job of disguising that.
The scene-stealer of the movie was, of course, Jack Nicholson, who played The Joker. He did, up until Heath Ledger, the best live-action Joker, playing him with the right mix of sadistic and goofball. The remaining supporting cast included Kim Bassinger as Viki Vale, Robert Whul as reporter Alexander Knox, Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent (which would later be recast in Batman Forever), and Jack Palance as crime boss Carl Grisson. Michael Gough and Pat Hingle are the two constants throughout the pre-Nolan Trilogy movies, playing Alfred and Commissioner Gordon. It was, in part origin story for Bruce Wayne/Batman, in part an origin story for Joker, and in part a Batman vs. Joker for control of, vs. saving Gotham City. It did deviate from the story of the comics somewhat, which some people did not like, but I think the twists were fine. While it was somewhat of a formulaic plot, I think it was well written and acted, and overall a very enjoyable movie. Probably the best of the original run of Batman movies, although Batman Returns is a very close second. The extras for this set are all on the blu ray disc and are as described above. Some that are specific to just this movie is the Robin sequence storyboard (which was considered, but ultimately dumped for this movie) voiced by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill who were voicing Batman and Joker in the animated series at that point, three Prince music videos, since he contributed to the soundtrack and the trailer for the movie.
Batman Returns (1992)
This is the sequel to the 1989 movie and a heavily anticipated follow-up. It was the second, and sadly last, movie directed by Tim Burton, and with Michael Keaton in the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. There were three villains this time, in the form of Penguin (played by Danny DeVito), Catwoman (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), and Max Schreck (played by Christopher Walken). The last of which was not a part of the comic books but solely made up for the movie. All three actors did a great job in their roles. Pfeiffer was all the more impressive as she was a last-minute addition to the cast since the role was supposed to go to Annette Benning, who got pregnant just before production started. It is a much more "adult" movie, with more violence and a ton of sexual innuendo. It was moving away from a "family-friendly" or "kid movie" genre, and ultimately led to Warner Brothers and Tim Burton splitting, seemingly amicably, and would ultimately lead to Keaton leaving the role (as he was only going to keep going if Burton was directing), and throwing the franchise into chaos.
The extras are much as for the first disc. All carry-overs (including the original behind the scenes feature that aired on TV to promote the movie) from the prior DVD and blu-ray releases. The UHD disc just has the movie itself (and the commentary track on the movie). All the other extras are on the blu-ray. A lot of material, but nothing new for the UHD release, so the upgrade to 4k (which looks and sounds great) is the only reason to pick this up.
Batman Forever (1995)
This is the movie that saw the turning point for the franchise, away from the darker version and tone that Tim Burton had set for the franchise with the first two movies, toward the more kid-friendly, almost campy return to the tone of the 1960s TV show, that would be completed in the horrible Batman and Robin a few years later. While Batman Forever was not a horrible movie, it just lacked any sense of continuity from the earlier films (aside from Alfred and Commissioner Gordon returning with the same actors). The look, the feel, and the tone of the franchise abruptly shifted, and ultimately started turning off the fanbase. That, of course, is said in a lot of hindsight knowing what was to come. When the movie opened, it was a huge hit (in large part because of Jim Carey's fame at the time, and the fact that the title song, Kiss From A Rose, became a major hit. I do think Val Kilmer did a fine job playing the duality of Bruce Wayne and Batman, and with Bruce being almost a neurotic loner who cannot stop being Batman.
The movie was really about the villains this time. Jim Carey was really at the height of his fame after leading in The Mask and Ace Ventura, playing The Riddler. He brought his hammy overacting that was really his hallmark at that point to the role, and for what Joel Schumacher was going for, it worked. Tommy Lee Jones did a good job with what he was given with Two-Face, but for some reason, the role was written more like The Joker than the Two-Face as written in The Animated Series or Nolan's trilogy, which worked much better (in my opinion).
Like the other movies, the extras (aside from the commentary track) are all on the regular blu-ray disc and are all carryovers from prior releases. The movie does look and sound good on the UHD format, although I would not say the restoration was as great as it could have been (like the Matrix Trilogy was). The extras include behind the scenes and making-of features, as well as the trailer, and the music video for Kiss From a Rose.
Batman & Robin (1997)
The best way to describe this movie is hot garbage. It took all the bad parts of Batman Forever, the bad writing, hokey overacting, stupid sound effects, stupid jokes, the campiness, the glowing paint, etc., and dialed them up even farther. Honestly, nipples on the Batsuit, which got people all riled up about the movie back when the movie was released, were the least of its problems. It seems like everyone involved in the movie was just going through the motions to get it made. Of course, it pretty well killed off the live-action Batman franchise until Christopher Nolan rebooted everything. Part of the movie's issue was that it was rushed into production to capitalize on the unexpected success of Batman Forever, but one of the biggest things that hurt the movie was yet another recasting of Batman/Bruce Wayne (in the behind the scenes material Val Kilmer and Joel Schumacher pretty much point the finger at each other for why Kilmer did not come back) and Clooney was just not the right fit for the role. I do, however, think the actors did the best they could with what they had (which was not much), but with the same story and script, no group of actors could have made the movie better. I also think that it was very unfair that Alicia Silverstone got so much crap about her portrayal of Batgirl because she was not given much at all to work with. It is not like she ruined a great script in the least little bit.
The disc setup is the same as the other. The movie and a commentary track on the UHD disc, and all the extras (carried over from prior releases) on the regular blu-ray. The movie mostly looks great on the format although some of the special effects were really bad (this is pre-Matrix, Star Wars Prequels, and Harry Potter where special effects really took off) and the inadequacies are almost amplified on the in the higher-definition format. The extras are along the same lines as for the other movies, with a good amount of material.
Overall, whether you want to get this will really depend on how interested you are in upgrading to the 4k format. I know a lot of people hate the packaging, but honestly, I do not really care all that much about the artwork. Each disc comes in its own case within an outer box, so you can store them either in the box or outside of it to minimize the amount of shelf space it takes up. As long as the cases hold up that is all I care about. If you owned the DVD box set before, this is a big upgrade. But, they are probably not as big of a jump from the blu-ray releases. Also, the movies are being released individually, so those who only want Batman and Batman Returns, without having to pay for the other two, can do so.
- Format: NTSC
- Studio: WarnerBrothers
- DVD Release Date: 17 Sep 2019
- Customer Reviews: Be the first to review this item
- ASIN: B07Q76MTZC
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