Having witnessed his parents’ brutal murder as a child, millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) fights crime in Gotham City disguised as Batman, a costumed hero who strikes fear into the hearts of villains. But when a deformed madman who calls himself “The Joker” (Jack Nicholson) seizes control of Gotham’s criminal underworld, Batman must face his most ruthless nemesis ever while protecting both his identity and his love interest, reporter Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger).
Plot: The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his courageous war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.
Director: Tim Burton
Aspect Ratio: 1.85.1
Runtime: 126 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: An eerie, haunting spectacle, Batman succeeds as dark entertainment, even if Jack Nicholson’s Joker too often overshadows the title character in most capacities.
“A triumph. You can’t take your eyes off of it!” -Peter Travers
This movie was shot with Panaflex Cameras and Lenses by Panavision on 35 mm, so ultimately you will get a native 4K visual for this release. As per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in HDR10. When it comes to the grain levels, there is a constant layer present to keep that film-tone, but it’s never overwhelming. (There are some soft scenes too, but nothing that takes you out of the movie.)
Having watched all of the movies in this new 4K collection, I have to note immediately that this is not as super-sharp in the quality department compared to the other discs. It is an amazing upgrade, no doubt, you will see solid black levels, shadows and tightened contrast across the board, but it’s not the best. Everything is better than the (newly remastered and original) Blu-ray, but this Batman doesn’t have a lot of color. In this iteration, Gotham stays true as the city that is always under darkness — with dull paint, no hues and life. There’s no way you’ve never this movie before, so you can imagine how bland the majority of the movie is though the eyes of the city. It relies heavily on black levels, shadow and contrast… which it nails! The cinematography is on point and it’s never shined brighter — UHD does it perfect justice.
Where are there some nice color jumps? You will see that predominately in the Joker’s outfits — they look great in HDR from the various greens, purples, oranges… the works — not including the added touches of green in his hair, red lips and white paint on his face. Staying on topic, something I did notice on this disc is that the white levels came on too strong from time to time. I’m not sure if it was a lighting choice, but you will have to check that out for yourself. It’s not distracting, but it is something noteworthy.
Some places to highlight include Chapter 18 when Batman in his library with Alfred. Here you will get great flesh tones, more clarity and picture quality. Unlike the majority of the movie, this scene (unlike most) had natural sunlight which drove everything in the room up. Again in Chapter 23 you’ll see another quick highlight of the Batmobile driving through the woods — detail down to the leaves blowing on the dirt to earth tones look great. Plus, inside the car you’ll get some 4K close-ups of Vicki Vale with pores, makeup and dirt apparent on her face. There are very few scenes like this, so it has to be noted.
I wasn’t born yet when this movie came out, so I didn’t grow up on this Batman. Unfortunately I grew up on the worst movies of the franchise, (that I secretly enjoy) but I was kid, I didn’t have an opinion yet. “Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” It’s safe to say that you can add this to your 4K collection! It’s not the best of the batch, but it’s a top notch upgrade and comes highly recommended. Make sure you pick it up when it releases everywhere on June 4th — and remember a box-set is coming September 17th.
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