Batman & Robin: Two-Disc Special Edition (1997)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Joel Schumacher (Director)
Featurette-Shadows Of The Bat Pt. 6: Batman Unbound
Featurette-Batman: The Heroes
Featurette-Batman: The Villains
Deleted Scenes-Alfred's Lost Love
|Year Of Production||1997|
|Running Time||119:50 (Case: 125)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Joel Schumacher|
Warner Home Video
Vivica A. Fox
|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|
"It felt like I was making a toy commercial." Chris O'Donnell
Batman & Robin was the fourth Batman film in the Burton/Schumacher chain and almost sounded the death knell for the caped crusader on the big screen. Considering how bad this film is, it's actually quite incredible that Batman Begins was made only a relatively short seven years later. It has taken almost two decades for Superman to overcome Superman III and IV and return to film.
Continuing in the same vein as the previous films, the bad guys take on a cartoonish and larger than life persona, using up as much if not more screen time than Batman. It's something I never understood - Batman is such a deep and interesting character (as Batman Begins was able to translate well to film), so why focus so much on the antagonist's motives and not Batman? The multiple baddie approach that began in Batman Returns is on show here with Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and a one dimensional Bane (Jeep Swensen). Thurman is the only one that manages to come off looking comfortable and at home in this campy crusade. Schwarzenegger does a decent enough job, but like everyone else has pretty limited material to work with. His character arc suits more the Batman TV show from the sixties or a Saturday morning cartoon show.
With multiple enemies, why not add Batgirl to the mix? Alicia Silverstone is thrown into the ring, the good girl ying to Thurman's evil yang. Apparently Batgirl was added for the sole reason of selling more movie tickets and merchandising to girls.
This is Clooney's first and only outing as Batman. He is a decent Bruce Wayne, but pretty woeful as Batman. I have the feeling though that with better material he would have been on a par with Keaton and Kilmer. He has been quite outspoken about how he feels like he sold himself to do this film and as it's turned out, this film may have been the best thing for his career. It was a defining moment for him, and he's since taken control of his career. The same cannot be said for Chris O'Donnell, who has done little of note in recent years.
"Studio wanted more family friendly... more toyetic" Schumacher
Batman & Robin is a prime example of box office success going to a studio's head. The core material gets largely ignored and merchandising priorities get incorporated into the script over substance and story telling. There might be something in this for kids, after all it is a light-hearted (if not poorly crafted) approach to Batman, Mr Freeze is pretty cool (pun intended) and there are some fun action sequences (my 7 year old gave it a thumbs up.) For older filmgoers and Batman fans though, it's pretty disappointing.
The feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and the disc is 16x9 enhanced.
This film has the best transfer of any of the new Batman SE discs I have seen. Considering this film is the most recent, it's not that surprising.
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 DVD release.
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. There are also a few sequences when there is a bit of a blue hue (Freeze scenes) and some of the Manor shots are overly reddish/pink.
There was a little bit of colour bleeding.
Unlike previous editions there were little to no film artefacts.
Unlike the previous DVD 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.
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. I was quite underwhelmed by the Batman Forever dts track - thankfully, this dts track was an improvement. Dialogue always came through clearly. The bass was great. The soundtrack mix was great too. Because there was always so much going on onscreen, the surrounds got quite a workout. The sub-woofer track was also used effectively. I recommend the dts track.
There were no sync issues.
There was also an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s) track.
|Surround Channel Use|
Schumacher contributes an interesting commentary. He doesn't apologise for what he has made (it's what the studio wanted so he did his job apparently) but he does apologise to fans who liked Forever, but were disappointed when they saw this. No apologies for Bat nipples though. He seems to accept the blame. Cops it well though, you have to admire him for that. Worth listening to.
Standard fare promotional trailer
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 trainwreck this film was. O'Donnell seems pretty angry about it, mentions a lack of focus, mentions it being little more than a toy commercial, and has other gripes to air about the film. Schumacher tries to justify what happened, and apologises again. I got to learn what the word 'toyetic' means. It is interesting that the studio let this relatively 'negative' retrospective (as opposed to the self-congratulatory) appear on the disc. Worth a look.
Short 3-4 minute segments on Batman, Robin and Batgirl.
Similar segments on Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy and Bane.
Production Design, Vehicle, Visual Effect, Makeup and Costume featurettes all around 10 minutes long each. Nothing groundbreaking but interesting enough.
Alfred's lost love: about 30 seconds long and very dumb. Batgirl is not really his niece but his long lost lover's daughter!
Smashing Pumpkins, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, R Kelly and Jewel.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Overall, this movie is a disaster, with more merchandising than character development. Kids might like it, but besides that fans would be few in number.
The video is great, the best of any of the Batman SE discs. Bat nipples never looked so good!
The audio does a good job.
The special features are worth a look, and the commentary is interesting.
Hard to recommend unless you are a completist or under 10 years old. Good price though.
|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|