Batman Forever: Two-Disc Special Edition (1995)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Joel Schumacher (Director)
Featurette-Riddle Me This: Why Is Batman Forever?
Featurette-Shadows Of The Bat: The Cinematic Saga Of The Dark Knight
Featurette-Batman: The Heroes
Featurette-Batman: The Villains
Music Video-"Kiss From A Rose" By Seal
|Year Of Production||1995|
|Running Time||116:34 (Case: 122)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Joel Schumacher|
Warner Home Video
Tommy Lee Jones
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Are you trying to get under my cape Doctor?
I have a confession to make..... when I first saw Batman Forever in theatres about ten years ago I enjoyed it. I had loved Burton's Batman, but had thought the follow up was hit and miss (my appreciation for it over time has grown.) It was with very low expectations that I went into Batman Forever. I had won tickets to it (I forget how) and went on opening day. It was better than what I was expecting.
The studio wanted more MTV than Returns
Amongst comic book fanboys and film enthusiasts there is no doubt that this is a controversial film. It gets almost as many things right as it gets wrong. In a lot of ways it's more accessible to the masses than Returns, and yet it can turn off almost as many people as it draws in. In hindsight it gives you glimpses of the train wreck that was to come in Batman & Robin.
This film has previously been released on DVD in 1999 and it wasn't pretty. WB essentially did the most basic of transfers possible with no special features. I had bought the Region 2 Japanese version of this disc about 3 or 4 years ago. I was living in Japan at the time and saw it on sale for only 500 yen (about $7AUD) - a real bargain considering most discs there have an RRP of between 3000 and 4000 yen ($40-$50AUD). I was bitterly disappointed when I got home and saw just how poor the transfer was; dirt, grain and film artefacts. There had been no attempt to clean up the print and really take advantage of what DVD could truly offer.
I am happy to report that this new Special Edition 2 disc release is what fans have been waiting for. For fans of Batman it is a highly recommended purchase. Even for non-Schumacher fans it is a great 2 disc set that has a good transfer, an interesting commentary and a pretty solid line up of special features at the value RRP of $19.95. The only negative is that it's taken Warner Home Video this long to release it properly.
Although this transfer is a vast improvement over 1999's effort, it is still not perfect. A film made only 10 years ago could look better if the studio wanted to pay a bit more to clean it up.
The feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and the disc is 16x9 enhanced.
After watching the Special Edition I put in my old version and was blown away by the difference. It's as stark a difference as VHS to DVD.
Grain in the '99 edition was so bad I would almost consider it unwatchable as far DVD standards go. Thankfully, this edition suffers very little grain issues.
Being a Batman film there are a lot of dark/night scenes and I can report that for the most part blacks come across looking good. There was none of the murky shadows or blotchy blacks from the previous edition.
In the only true outdoor scene, where Bruce welcomes the newly orphaned Dick Grayson to Wayne Manor, I was amazed at how great the natural outdoor colours looked. In fact it's probably the 'prettiest' part of the film as far as the transfer is concerned. Overall, colours were vivid and in night scenes complemented and contrasted the black/darker tones very well. The only complaint about colours is that sometimes they were a little overdone - in one of the Riddler scenes the green hue was a bit off and I believe the bank vault's reddish hue seemed overdone too.
There was a little bit of colour bleeding.
The one thing that disappointed me was that there is still an unforgivable number of film artefacts. It wasn't enough to wreck the viewing experience but it certainly was a distraction and to me detracted from the viewing experience. It is still a vast improvement over the previous version though.
Unlike the previous release this version has dts and a commentary track.
I found the English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s) track to be pretty average. The dialogue came through crisp and clear but effects seemed a little soft. There were no sync issues.
The English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s) track was significantly better than the Dolby Digital track, but as far as dts tracks go this one was a little underwhelming. Whilst much more immersive than the Dolby track it seemed to lack any real range and there was little subwoofer use. There were plenty of explosions, effects, and the like, but there were no "Wow that sounds good" moments. Even though it was not impressive, technically there was nothing wrong with it. I recommend it over the Dolby Digital track.
There was also an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s) track.
|Surround Channel Use|
Not the best commentary I have heard but it is an enlightening one. Schumacher contributes an interesting, if somewhat self congratulatory commentary. No apologies for Bat nipples are to be found but he does share the fact that Kilmer is his favourite Batman. There are some hints about the direction the studio wanted, "Basically it was my job to put as much (for merchandising) into the movie that I could." A focus on style over substance perhaps?
Standard fare promotional trailer
An extremely dated and cheesy made for TV promo hosted by Chris O'Donnell. Interviews from most of the key players. Give it a miss!
I really enjoyed this. I have heard the previous chapters (on Batman & Batman Returns) are better, but I found this to be a good look back at the movie 10 years on. Most of the key people gave a recent interview for it (minus Burton, Kidman and Carrey.) Considering Burton produced it and he chose to involve himself in it speaks volumes of his opinion. More Special Editions should do retrospectives like this.
Short 3-4 minute segments on Batman, Robin and Chase Meridian.
Similar segments on the Riddler and Two Face
Production Design, Stunt, Visual Effect and Music score featurettes. Nothing groundbreaking but I enjoyed them all. John Dykstra the SFX guru said this was the last film where he ever used large scale miniatures.... almost like the end of an era. Interestingly, it was also mentioned that this was the first movie he worked on where the visual effects team could think less like engineers and more like directors because of digital effects. Cool stuff!
Some interesting cuts here; Two-Face's escape from Arkham Asylum, a very lame helicopter fight scene, Bruce and Dick in the Wayne Manor Gym, and a great (if somewhat weird) scene where Bruce finds his father's diary. That scene would have added another element to why Batman does what he does.
Seal..... too bad the U2 song isn't here too!
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
In terms of content the R1 and R4 releases are identical. I have only read absolutely glowing reviews for the R1 video transfer, so I do have the sneaking suspicion that (as usual) PAL regions have gotten an inferior video transfer.
Overall, the movie is more MTV than Dark Knight, more merchandising than character development. As a summer popcorn movie, though, you could do a lot worse. Personally, I like it but unfortunately it's not aging well.
Video is pretty good.
The audio is fine, if nothing outstanding.
The special features are worth a look.
For Batman and Kilmer fans definitely worth it. If (like me) you have the original version and were somewhat jaded by that, shell out $20 bucks. This 2 disc set is worth it.
|DVD||Marantz DV4300, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL HS10 projector on 100 inch 16x9 screen + Palsonic 76WSHD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Sony STR-DE685. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||DB Dynamics VEGA series floor standers + centre, DB bipole rears, 10" 100W DB Dynamics sub|