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Batman: The Movie(1966)
From the height of the television show's popularity, this full-length movie features all four of Batman (Adam West) and Robin's (Burt Ward) most dastardly and cunning adversaries: the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and the Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), joining forces to take over the world thanks to a De-Hydrator that turns people into piles of dust. The dynamic duo pull out all the stops, with a BIFF! and a KA-POW!, to stop the bad guys.
For more about Batman: The Movie and the Batman: The Movie Blu-ray release, see Batman: The Movie Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 7, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin
Narrator: William Dozier
Director: Leslie H. Martinson
» See full cast & crew
Batman: The Movie Blu-ray Review
Quickly! To the Bat Review!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 7, 2008
There may be skullduggery ahead!
Holy roller coaster, Batman! Batman as a film franchise has seen more than its fair share of ups and downs. I've never seen the animated films, so my realm of critique in this paragraph will focus solely on the live-action films. Needless to say, this original 1966 filmed version of Batman is quite bad, but not in a Batman and Robin sort of way, thankfully. No, fans of camp films will find this 60's sensation a delight, a smorgasbord of the finest cheese ever filmed, projected, and now placed onto these marvelous five-inch discs we call Blu-ray. For more than two decades, the franchise sat idly, waiting for the next feature film to return the Caped Crusader to the Silver Screen. Enter Tim Burton and his Batman film, released in 1989, that proved to be the complete opposite of the 1960s spectacle that starred Adam West and Burt Ward. This Batman was darker, much darker, in fact, teetering on film noir and was decidedly more serious and surreal, but with a healthy dose of comic relief thanks to the wonderful performance by Jack Nicholson as the Joker. The franchise took a decidedly and exponentially meteoric rise to the top of the comic book-turned-movie realm, and 1989's Batman is a film that, for my money, is the finest superhero film ever made. Its followup, Batman Returns, is a favorite among many fans, but falls in the middle of the pack no matter how you slice it. The franchise seemed doomed when Joel Schumacher put his mark on the series with 1995's Batman Forever and 1997's Batman & Robin, but the combined talents of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale has thankfully revived the series in a way nearly unforeseeable after the disasters that were Schumacher's. Still, the franchise's cinematic roots lie with this Adam West and Burt Ward original, a colorful, comedic romp that holds up marvelously some 40 years later, not because of the greatness of the story, the first-rate acting, ground breaking effects, or any other nonexistent positive the film brings to cinema history, but because of the film's status as one of the campiest films ever, and in my very humble opinion, it takes the cake as the cheesiest studio film in history.
When Batman (Adam West) and his sidekick, Robin (Burt Ward) are summoned to rescue a yacht-in-peril, they find the summons to be a trap; the yacht mysteriously disappears and Batman is nearly killed by an exploding (rubber) shark that has grabbed onto, but apparently not bitten, his leg (no doubt thanks to the extra heavy-duty Bat Fibers used to construct his suit). Rescued by a handy bottle of shark repellent, the Dynamic Duo return to dry land and deduce that all four of the major at-large criminals in the city -- the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and the Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) were behind the attack in what is easily the worst offending example of effortless and ridiculous deduction in the film, and perhaps in the history of motion pictures. Because the entire situation was "fishy," the Penguin must be involved. The attempt on the lives of the Dynamic Duo occurred at sea (no, not THAT sea, the letter "C!"), so Catwoman obviously had a hand in the plan! The rubber shark was "pulling Batman's leg," so enter the Joker! All of this adds up to, you guessed it, a sinister riddle, which implies the involvement of the Riddler! As the plot thickens and the cheese multiplies, the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder must work tirelessly to save the day as the quartet of vile villainy has their sights set on a plot that will bring anarchy and chaos to the entire world!
Of all the things that make Batman: The Movie a memorable one, none stand out as more famous than the use of various onomatopoeias scattered throughout the final confrontation at film's end. With every punch comes a "POW!" prominently displayed on-screen, comic book style. With every character who falls into the water comes a "SPLOOSH!" (see screenshot number four). With every swing and a miss comes a "SWOOSH!" It's a comic book come to life, literally. Also of note is the assigning of names of various items with a "Bat" prefix, including the bat drift angle, bat ladder, bat cave, shark repellent bat spray, bat-a-rang, Micro-TV bat scanner, bat rope, super-blinding bat pellets, bat gas, bat wake, bat radio, bat charges, and bat ropes, and I am sure I missed several. Also adding to the fun is what is perhaps the greatest superpower shared by the Dynamic Duo: an uncanny ability to reason, deduce, and extrapolate information with startling accuracy and come to mind-numbingly dumb conclusions that are 100% accurate every time. While all of this adds up to the ultimate in camp, none of it would work without the William Shatner-esque performance turned in by Adam West. Like Kirk in the original "Star Trek" series, West delivers his lines with the requisite long, drawn-out words and phrases, ticks, breaks, facial expressions, and body movements that embodied the camp in "Star Trek," thanks to Shatner's uncanny, oftentimes humorous, but nevertheless charming, acting. Noted as especially symbolic of this style is West's delivery of the line: "Surrender!...you...criminals!" Indeed, I cannot imagine Batman: The Movie played straight. All of its appeal is derived directly from its ridiculousness, and the film is unique in the fact that its awful script and generally laughable acting is exactly what makes the movie so much fun, and frankly, so good some 40 years after its release.
Batman: The Movie Blu-ray, Video Quality
Holy Hallucination, Batman! 20th Century Fox presents Batman: The Movie on Blu-ray in a marvelous-for-a-42-year-old-film 1080p, 1.85:1 framed transfer. This film retains its natural grain structure that is ever-present over the image and adds to the campy cinematic charm of the film. Various stock footage shots are scattered throughout the image, and they, too, appear excessively grainy and decidedly unpolished, but that's the way stock footage should look. Background details appear soft throughout the entirety of the picture. The higher resolution of Blu-ray brings out all of the details in the costumes, both the good and the bad, including some questionable stitching, cheap materials, and what appears to be a press-on Bat logo on Batman's chest. In chapter seven, viewers can even see what seems to be a helicopter rotor on the top of the frame, obviously captured while filming the shot from above. Some special effects shots don't hold up well in 1080p, particularly evidenced by the plainly obviously haloing seen around the "guinea pigs" in chapter 18, or that the horizon as seen in chapter 28 is clearly a painted wall on the inside of a soundstage, but no worries -- it all adds to the silliness of the movie. The print exhibits the occasional speckle and mar, but Fox has assembled a mostly pristine, clean, and perfectly cinematic-in-appearance print. Flesh tones are generally accurate in nature, and black levels are solid with only a hint of gray about them. If this movie is anything other than pure cheese, it is abundantly colorful. Colors are marvelously bright and accentuate the camp feel of the movie drastically. Batman's gray and blue looks nice, but pales in comparison to the Boy Wonder's red, green, and yellow outfit or the Joker's green and pink garb. Batman: The Movie is a cornucopia of color, and this Blu-ray edition brings it out as never before. Kudos to Fox for once again providing a disc true to the source, with all its original elements seemingly intact and allowing us to enjoy the movie in a true theatrical style.
Batman: The Movie Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Batman: The Movie comes to Blu-ray in all it's sonic goodness, presented with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, and accompanied by the film's mono presentation as well. The 5.1 surround mix offers a pleasing enough experience, but the elements don't quite lend themselves to what would today be considered 4.5 or 5 blue "B" material. The highs in the soundtrack play out as a bit harsh, but the midrange and the lows are excellent. Dialogue sometimes gets a bit muffled under the music, and I noted several instances where it seemed to drop drastically in volume from one syllable to the next, and recover in the subsequent shot. There are some decent discrete effects and fine imaging in select scenes. Generally, fine lows are heard and felt, particularly during the Bat Boat launch and subsequent ride in chapter seven (the same place you can see the rotors atop the frame). The film's score is loud and engrossing, filling the front channels with 60s-era sonic goodness. The surrounds don't receive a very hefty workout, but they are put to use on occasion. Various special effects are oftentimes loud, and sometimes obnoxiously so. The soundtrack itself is rather loud, and I found myself fiddling with the volume control on my remote at least a dozen times. The explosion of the bomb in chapter 19 is perhaps the best use of low frequency effects heard in this movie, and it is one of the high points of the track. Considering the source, the 5.1 mix is a solid effort, and fans should be pleased to have both this mix and the original mono soundtrack available on this disc.
Batman: The Movie Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Holy special edition, Batman! Fox has pulled everything out of the utility belt for this special edition release of Batman: The Movie, highlighted by two feature-length commentary tracks. The first is an actor commentary with Adam West and Burt Ward. These two are as much a blast to listen to discussing the film as they are to watch acting in it. This track is nearly as corny and silly as the movie itself, filled with off-the-cuff anecdotes, jokes, and even some honest to goodness insight into the production. A major treat for fans, this track is worth a listen by everyone who purchases, rents, or borrows this disc. The second track is a solo effort from screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr. Semple admits that he hasn't seen the film in a good 25 years and comes into the material fresh. He provides a history of the series he helped to create and the very straightforward approach to making this film. Semple admits that the entire movie is straight camp and that it was difficult to find writers who could perfectly nail the campy feel of the movie. While not as entertaining as the West/Ward track, this one is equally engaging and provides great insight into every facet of the Batman: The Movie world. Fans also have the opportunity to view the entire film with an isolated DTS-HD MA 5.1 score track.
Batman: A Dynamic Legacy (1080p, 28:29) is a fabulous history of the Batman franchise in the 1960s. The participants offer heartfelt, excited comments on this history of the show and the impact of it on their childhood. This piece delves deep into the worldwide appeal of the film and the character, the "comic book come-to-life" look and feel of the movie, and many other fascinating stories. Caped Crusaders: A Heroes Tribute (1080p, 12:29) examines the colorful costumes worn by Batman and the Boy Wonder, and also the chemistry the two shared. Also included is a discussion of the role of Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and Chief O'Hara. Gotham City's Most Wanted (1080p, 15:51) is another fantastic piece that delves into the world of the film's villains, examining their casting, screen presence, and the over-the-top acting methods they employed. 2001 Featurette (480p, 16:47) is a more standard-fare piece that features interviews with the film's stars spliced together.
Moving along, we have a feature entitled The Batmobile Revealed With George Barris (480p, 5:47). This feature takes viewers up-close-and-personal with the gadgets, gizmos, and weapons found on the car, as well as the design cues that went into making a bat-like vehicle. The Batmobile Interactive Tour is a 360-degree tour of the vehicle with selectable parts that, when clicked, provide the viewer with a closer look and a paragraph describing the feature. Batman on Location: Mapping the Movie features a map of the Los Angeles area where the movie is set, overlaid on the left hand side of the screen. Throughout the course of the movie, various selectable options become available, including directions to famous locations, photos, and factoids pertaining to various locations seen in the movie. Holy Trivia Track, Batman! is your usual trivia track that plays over the length of the film, popping up often to provide a good deal of insight into the Batman: The Movie experience. Rounding out the special features are the film's teaser trailer (1080p, 1:38), theatrical trailer (480p, 3:06), a Spanish-subtitled theatrical trailer (1080p, 3:08), and a series of still galleries including "From the Vaults of Adam West," "Interactive Pressbook," "Posters," "Production Stills," "Behind the Scenes," and "Premiere."
Batman: The Movie Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Batman: The Movie would undoubtedly hold the distinction as one of the laughing stocks of cinema history were it not for the absolutely perfect writing and acting that made an otherwise laughably bad movie into one of the more cherished pictures of the 1960s. Never before and never since has there been a film so unintentionally intentionally hilarious as this one, and the film is the perfect example of deadpan comedy done right, thanks to the Shatner-like acting of Adam West. 20th Century Fox brings this camp classic to Blu-ray with a pristine video quality that makes it one of the finest vintage titles around on Blu-ray. One the audio side of the spectrum, fans have the option to listen to either the original monaural soundtrack or a spiffy new DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix that isn't going to knock your socks off, but does add a bit more spark to the picture. Supplements abound; it seems the studio has listened to fans and is beginning to bring impressive supplemental materials to their catalogue releases. Batman fans, Blu-ray fans, and film fans in general owe it to themselves to see (and own) this piece of classic cinema history. Holy highly recommended, Batman!
Batman: The Movie Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - July 1st, 2008 - July 1, 2008
Before there were Sopranos, there were Mad Men. Well, sort of. Series creator Matthew Weiner wrote the pilot back in 2000 while working as a staff writer for the TV show "Becker". David Chase, creator of 'The Sopranos', read the script, and was so impressed by ...
• Batman: The Movie Announced for Blu-ray - March 25, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the 1966 classic superhero film 'Batman: The Movie' to Blu-ray on July 1st. Video will be presented in 1080p AVC accompanied by a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack. Exclusive to the Blu-ray release ...
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