Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 30-Nov-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy Featurette-Those Dastardly Desperados
Featurette-A Classic Cadre of Voices
Featurette-Sneak Peek at 'Batman vs. Robin'
Featurette-Sneak Peek at 'Son of Batman'
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 78:17
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Rick Morales
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Adam West
Burt Ward
Julie Newmar
Jeff Bergman
Sirena Irwin
Thomas Lennon
William Salyers
Lynne Marie Stewart
Jim Ward
Steven Weber
Wally Wingert
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Kristopher Carter
Michael McCuistion
Lolita Ritmanis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Almost paradoxically, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is by far and away the best and most enjoyable Batman movie of 2016, not that it has much in the way of competition. Yes, this feature-length homage to the campy 1960s Batman TV show is effortlessly better than both the monstrously-budgeted disappointment of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice as well as the animated misfire of Batman: The Killing Joke. (Forget about Batman: Bad Blood, if anybody actually remembers it.) Produced outside of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series, Return of the Caped Crusaders plays out like a direct sequel to 1966ís Batman: The Movie, distinguishing itself by presenting a goofy, tongue-in-cheek interpretation of the Dark Knight, and the approach pays off. Itís clear that everybody involved in Return of the Caped Crusaders holds tremendous affection for the old show, and this reverence is palpable in most every frame of this riotously funny, fun romp.

††† Whenever Gotham City is under threat, the task of saving the day falls to the reliable Dynamic Duo of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Adam West) and Dick Grayson/Robin (Burt Ward). Much to the dismay of the two crime-fighters, their main four nemeses - The Riddler (Wally Wingert), The Joker (Jeff Bergman), The Penguin (William Salyers) and Catwoman (Julie Newmar) - have joined forces to steal the Replicator Ray, which is capable of duplicating anybody it targets. But even though Batman and Robin manage to retrieve the weapon, Catwoman slips Batman a chemical which turns him into a selfish, power-hungry jerk. Before long, Batman starts to use the Replicator Ray on himself to take over Gotham City, leaving Robin to find a way to reverse both the effects of the chemical and the duplicative properties of the Ray.

††† Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders has a ball embracing the pure absurdity which defined the television show and subsequent feature film expansion, from the hilariously convoluted way that the Dynamic Duo deduce The Riddlerís puzzles, to Robinís situation-specific exclamations (ďHoly trench warfare!Ē) and Batmanís habitual need to impart life lessons no matter how urgent the situation. Furthermore, the animators faithfully recreate the 1960s Batcave in all its campy glory, and all of the items in Batmanís seemingly endless arsenal carry titles preceded by the word ďBatĒ - including a Bat-Rocket. The vibe of í60s Batman is captured almost effortlessly, from the iconic theme music to the character designs, and of course the use of goofy captions throughout sequences of fisticuffs whenever a punch or kick is thrown (ďOomph!,Ē ďKapow!Ē). The animation format allows for a greater scope that was simply never possible on a 1960s budget, but the production never loses sight of its origins. Those desiring a darker or even a more bombastic interpretation of the source should probably look elsewhere.

††† Despite running a comparatively scant 75 minutes, Return of the Caped Crusaders does feel a bit long in the tooth after a while, as it starts to run out of gas during its second act in particular. The jokes are certainly amusing when they hit, particularly throughout the brilliantly-paced opening half-hour or so, but the flick probably could have done with more gags and/or zany diversions, or at least some trimming. Additionally, despite the spot-on recreation of the Batcave, the rest of the sets look overly bog-standard for the most part, and rarely does the production generate the impression that it takes place in the 1960s. This is likely a reflection of the budget limitations, but a bit more style and colour to the surrounds would not have gone astray. Still, Return of the Caped Crusaders gets more right than wrong, though it almost goes without saying that this is a fan-service type of movie, and those familiar with the original show will get the most out of it. Itís unclear just how well the movie will play to the uninitiated.

††† Voice acting across the board is highly spirited and full of energy for the most part, which is no small feat in the animation realm where even the most talented actors can sound uninterested and lifeless. Westís voice is easily the most distinctive, and there would be no point continuing the legacy of 1960s Batman without the veteran performer reprising his role. Thereís so much effortless spark and charm to Westís performance here, taking to the animated format without missing a beat. (He has spent many years playing an exaggerated version of himself on Family Guy, after all.) Meanwhile, Wardís age is reflected in his voice, but this actually makes his performance all the more amusing, adding another layer of metatextual humour. What matters is that Wardís energy never falters, and his interplay with West is every bit as lively and amusing as it should be. However, Newmar is not quite as successful in this respect; her advanced age also comes through in her voice, which has changed so much that she doesnít sound anything like her original Catwoman. Itís certainly an interesting novelty to have Newmar in the cast, but her performance is stiff and flat. Luckily, the sound-alikes portraying The Penguin, The Riddler and The Joker hit their marks terrifically.

††† For all of its tongue-in-cheek gags and corny dialogue, it never feels as if Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is mocking the source material - rather, it provides a timely, affectionate throwback to a simpler era for the Caped Crusader. Indeed, it should play very well for those who are sick of dark, grim Batman movies, and itís undeniably refreshing to see this jovial side to the character for the first time in decades. A sequel is reportedly in the works - to be adapted from an unproduced script intended for the original show - which will apparently feature William Shatner as Two-Face. At this point, the prospect of a sequel is more exciting than any other Batman feature in development. Go figure.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Roadshow bring this farcical Dark Knight adventure to Blu-ray in full 1080p, framed at 1.78:1. Fortunately, this is one of the strongest presentations of a Warner Bros. Animation title to date, as it doesnít fall victim to many of the encoding or source-related pratfalls of previous releases (perhaps the worst being Justice League: War). However, as is ostensibly standard practise now with Roadshow/Warner titles, the bitrate is noticeably low, hovering around the 15 Mbps mark, leaving a fair chunk of unused space on this single layer BD-25. Make no mistake, this is a fine-looking presentation, but who knows how much better it could look with more breathing room.

††† Banding is frequent with DC animated titles on Blu-ray, but thankfully I did not detect much in the way of banding for this presentation. It does show up occasionally, but itís not overly problematic and most viewers may not even notice it. The image is thankfully free of macroblocking, aliasing, crush and noise, as the transfer remains welcomely crisp from start to finish. Detail and sharpness are about as good as can be expected considering the source (the animation is very basic from a fine detail standpoint), while the colour palette is consistently bright and bold. All things considered, Return of the Caped Crusaders scrubs up extraordinarily well on Blu-ray and I have no complaints. Fans should be pleased.

††† I doubt a 4K Blu-ray release would have been necessary in any way for a low-budget animation of this nature. I'm perfectly happy viewing Return of the Caped Crusaders in stellar 1080p.

††† English, German and Italian subtitles are available. The English track posed no issues to my eyes, as itís well-formatted and easy to ready.


Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

††† Return of the Caped Crusaders is not nearly as aggressively loud or as bombastic as a more standard-order animated DC title, since this adventure is more low-key and doesnít contain any large-scale action sequences involving superpowers or aliens. Thus, this lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is more than sufficient considering the source, providing crystal clear audio throughout without any crackles, pops or drop-outs. For those interested, the disc also provides lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital audio in German and Italian.

††† This is a mostly front-centred presentation, and the dialogue throughout is well-prioritised and easy to understand. There isnít much in the way of rear surround activity beyond the music which fills all the speakers. Punches and kicks are given some decent impact with subwoofer usage, but the rest of the mix is very basic, which is understandable given that the original show was mixed in mono.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
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Overall

Extras

††† For such an ambitious project, this Blu-ray comes up surprisingly short in the special features department. The possibilities were endless for an array of in-depth documentaries and audio commentaries (c'mon, a West & Ward commentary would be gold), but we're stuck with this pitiful selection of extras instead.

Those Dastardly Desperados (HD; 10:29)

††† As the title implies, this featurette is all about the villains of the movie, with Newmar reprising her role as Catwoman while newcomers filled in for the deceased actors who performed The Penguin, The Riddler and The Joker. Plenty of interviews are provided, along with interesting footage of the recording sessions.

A Classic Cadre of Voices (HD; 10:01)

††† This is a broader featurette thatís all about the voice cast, with comments from a large range of cast and crew.

A Sneak Peak at Batman vs. Robin (HD; 10:07)

††† For some reason, the two sneak peaks on this release are archival. Batman vs. Robin came out in 2015, but if you havenít seen it, hereís an extended promo for it.

A Sneak Peak at Son of Batman (HD; 9:28)

††† Hereís a sneak peak at 2014ís Son of Batman. Iíve already seen it, so this wasnít of much interest to me.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † All editions worldwide appear to be identical in terms of extras, only differing with audio and subtitle options. Buy local.

Summary

††† The concept behind Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is so downright brilliant and rich with potential that it's a wonder why it took Warner Bros. Animation so d*** long to green-light it. I feel blessed to be able to watch this amusing resurrection of the 1960s Batman TV series, and this title is a worthwhile addition to my collection.

††† I don't have many complaints in terms of the Blu-ray presentation, but extras are in short supply. All things considered, this release comes recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSamsung UBD-K8500 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED55C6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

Other Reviews NONE
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