Batman: Two-Disc Special Edition (1989)

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Released 19-Oct-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Tim Burton (Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Legends Of The Dark Knight: The History Of Batman
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-On The Set With Bob Kane
Featurette-Shadows Of The Bat: The Cinematic Saga Of The Dark Knight
Featurette-Batman: The Heroes
Featurette-Batman: The Villains
Featurette-Beyond Batman
Storyboards-Batman: The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence
Music Video-Partyman, Scandalous And Batdance By Prince
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 121:07
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:08)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Tim Burton
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Michael Keaton
Jack Nicholson
Kim Basinger
Robert Wuhl
Pat Hingle
Billy Dee Williams
Michael Gough
Jack Palance
Jerry Hall
Tracey Walter
Lee Wallace
William Hootkins
Richard Strange
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Danny Elfman
Prince


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    When Tim Burton took the reigns of the first screen incarnation of Batman since the camp 60s TV series, his intent was to clearly distance himself from those roots and instead get back to the brooding psychopathology of vigilante violence amidst a neo-noir atmosphere with chilling gothic overtones. For the most part, he gets it right.

    Batman, as played here by a stoic but outwardly normal Michael Keaton, is right on the money as a traumatised but driven vigilante that is just the right mix of hero and anti-hero for this type of film. Gone are the horrendous blue tights of the TV show, replaced with slick leather, latex and contoured body armour. To contrast the brooding bleakness of the bat, we are given a flamboyant, colourful Jack Nicholson playing Batman's arch nemesis the Joker – a brilliant but utterly insane criminal mastermind capable of the most heinous and unpredictable brutality.

    Trapped in the middle to give just the right balance of dramatic tension is the beautiful blonde and busty Kim Basinger as reporter Vicki Vale. In love with Batman's alter ego (depending on which way you look at it) Bruce Wayne, and pursued by the homicidal artist Jack Napier, a.k.a. the Joker, Vale's mission to uncover the identity of the Batman leads her into the middle of a war between two sides of a blackened coin – the winner of which takes Gotham City itself.

    When I went to see this as an adolescent in the late 1980s, I was highly impressed with the stylised violence, and the twisted moody ambience that is like a bizarre nightmare version of 1940s Chicago. I might not have been able to express it in such terms back then, but I certainly can now. Its mix of noir mobster clichés with far-flung psychotic notions that appear to have their origins in surrealist imagery cast over with the imposing spectacle of the black bat make this both a visual and emotional treat.

    Comparing this Batman to the more recent Batman Begins is as unfair as comparing it to the 1960s TV show, and so I shall not bother. Standing alone on its own merits, Tim Burton's vision of Batman is a towering spectacle that stands as a monument to creative reinvention for the big screen. A convincing mix of style and substance all too rarely seen in contemporary cinema.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in 1.75:1, 16x9 enhanced, mastered from a new high definition transfer, this is close to its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. However, when upscaled to 1080i at 50Hz, this looks absolutely amazing. Bearing in mind that this film is now coming up on 17 years old, it has aged extremely well, and with the quality of this transfer, you would be easily fooled into believing it was made far more recently.

    Colour saturation is truly outstanding – I haven’t seen this show look this good before, even when I went to see it out at Westfield back in the day (though given the cinemas of the day, that’s hardly surprising). The colour choices of Burton and his creative team are far more evident now, and put the washed out original transfer to shame.

    More importantly, shadow detail has been greatly improved over the original transfer, and graininess has been reduced to next to nothing. Again, for a film of this age, some nice work has gone into restoring it for digital transfer, and cleaning it up for the best possible experience.

    The aliasing that was so prevalent in the original releases is now gone. In fact, film-to-video transfer artefacts have been almost completely done away with. There are a couple of film artefacts here and there – mostly dirt and the odd small hair popping up in the corners. However, it is evident that this transfer has also been cleaned and the film artefacts were in no way distracting, and probably better than some more recent transfers.

    There are subtitles available in English and Italian. I watched the subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired. They are quite accurate.

    The dual layer pause is at 59:08. It occurs in the middle of a scene, and while noticeable, it is not really disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Audio is available in a fantastic English 5.1 DTS (encoded at 768Kb/s) remix, as well as a comparatively thin English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (encoded at a low 384Kb/s rather than the more conventional 448Kb/s), and Italian in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (encoded at 192Kb/s).

    The English Dolby Digital and Italian tracks are acceptable, but the DTS track really wipes the floor with them – it is outstanding.

    Dialogue comes through loud and clear, and some of the lines that were muffled in the original release and not clear off my old VHS or when I saw it at the cinema are finally audible, giving certain scenes new meaning that I had missed hitherto.

    Surrounds are impressively aggressive, with what sound like new effects, or maybe just newly positioned effects, through the rears. The front surrounds were heavily utilised – far more than with the original DVD release.

    The wonderful score by Danny Elfman is given a thunderous remix that really shows off just how good this score was. I was riveted. And the various popular tracks by Price interwoven through the film are given full effect with the DTS.

    The extremely heavy use of the subwoofer in this film adds a totally new depth to something I’ve seen so often. In classic Hitchcock style, the bass is really used in some places to bring the hairs up on your arms.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    The main menu on all the discs is presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with a 2.0 Dolby Surround audio track. The submenus are static and silent.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary – Tim Burton (Director)

    Presented 2.0 Dolby Surround, this is a very interesting commentary into a very interesting film. Worth a listen if you’re a fan.

Theatrical Trailer (1:45)

    Presented 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Surround.

Disc 2

Featurette – “Legends Of The Dark Knight: A History Of Batman” (40:38)

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround audio, this is a very interesting documentary on the history of the Batman character.

Featurette – “On The Set With Bob Kane” (2:33)

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround audio, this is an interview with Batman creator Bob Kane on the set of the Batman movie.

Featurette – “Shadows Of The Bat: The Cinematic Saga Of The Dark Knight” (71:45)

    Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround audio, this is a documentary split into 3 parts:

Featurette – “Batman: The Heroes” (12:32)

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround audio, this is a series of interviews about the history of the various characters:

Featurette – “Batman: The Villains” (7:20)

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround audio, this is a series of interviews about the history of the various characters:

Featurette – “Beyond Batman” (50:33)

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround audio, this is a very interesting documentary on the making of the film, containing the following chapters:

Featurette – “Batman: The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence” (4:24)

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround audio, this is a series of storyboards from a sequence that was conceived but never shot in which Robin would play a role in the film.

Music Videos

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    Content-wise, the R1 and R4 releases appear to be identical. Other than region coding and picture format, the R1 release has a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack instead of the Italian 2.0 Dolby Surround track available here. Apparently the Region 1 video transfer is also quite impressive. Buy whichever is cheapest.

Summary

    Tim Burton’s neo-gothic vision of Batman was a groundbreaking visual and aural onslaught that changed the way in which comic book adaptations were viewed. A film that upset as many fans as pleased them, it is an interpretation that is definitely worth your time.

    This DVD transfer is outstanding, and probably the definitive version until a proper High Definition release comes along (whether that be HD-DVD, Blu-Ray or Holographic).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880N Deluxe, using DVI output
DisplaySony VPL-HS50 LCD Cineza Projector with HP 80" Widescreen (16:9) HDTV Mobile Projector Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersDigital Accoustics Emerald 703G - Centre, Front Left & Right, Rear Left & Right Satellites, Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
1080i Upconverting - SoundMax
Comparing 1989's Batman to Batman Begins is very fair... -
Re: Tim Burton and action sequences -