Batman: The Movie (1966)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Adam West & Burt Ward
|Year Of Production||1966|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (30:54)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Leslie H. Martinson|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I have a theory. You can divide people into age groups by the Batman they grew up with. The oldest group watched the black-and-white Batman serials before the main feature on a Saturday afternoon. The best group (yeah, mine) grew up watching the live-action Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. The slightly younger group watched the animated TV series. Younger still is the group who only know Batman from the movies. And the youngest yet watches the new animated series like Batman Beyond, and so forth - I don't know a lot about these last series.
This Batman movie was made in 1966, in the summer hiatus after the first series of the Adam West/Burt Ward TV show. It was made by the same team as the series, but they had a larger budget. If you are one of those lucky enough to remember that series, then you'll recognise most of the characters. Batman is played by Adam West and Robin by Burt Ward. Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton) and Police Chief O'Hara (Stafford Repp) will be familiar, as will Alfred the butler (Alan Napier).
The movie needed a bigger plot than an ordinary episode of the TV series. It needed more villains, too. Thus we get the most popular super-criminals working together: the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) and Catwoman (played by Lee Meriwether because Julie Newmar was off filming McKenna's Gold).
All the familiar features are present. Every piece of equipment bears a nice big label. All manner of objects are available in "Bat" versions - I rather liked the Bat-ladder being unfurled from the Bat-copter, especially with its "Bat Ladder" label. Robin utters many of his famous "Holy" exclamations: "Holy Polaris" in response to a missile launched from a submarine, for example. Batman is not the only one with toys: Penguin has jet-pack umbrellas, and a Penguin submarine, complete with paddling feet. The Riddler has his riddles, skywritten by modified Polaris missiles. If you remember the TV series well, you won't be disappointed by this movie.
And if you don't remember the series? Will you miss out? Nup - the filmmakers went to considerable trouble to ensure that you could enjoy the movie just as well as the most dedicated aficionado - all the necessary exposition is included, but disguised carefully.
The charm of this particular version of Batman is the utter absurdity of the environment and events. Young children can accept what's happening at face value, and enjoy the adventure; adults are rolling on the floor laughing - that's the charm. You will rarely see such a perfect example of this genre. Every actor is playing their part perfectly straight, but what they are saying is incredible. Batman may seem a cardboard cut-out - perfect in every way - but that's what is so funny. And you have to love a super-hero whose helicopter carries a range of repellent sprays including shark, whale, barracuda, and manta ray.
There is one sad thing about the DVD - it is so clear that you can easily see how badly they managed the stunt replacements during fights - the stunt men standing in for Penguin and Riddler are very obvious.
Adam West mentions, more than once, the theatre of the absurd. I think that is a good description of the genre. If you like this kind of comedy, this is the perfect disc for you - "thwack, pow!"
This movie was made in 1966. That would lead me to expect a faded picture with oodles of film artefacts. I'm pleased to report that what we get is far from that.
The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced. That's the theatrical aspect ratio - can't complain about that.
The picture is sharp and clear, with excellent shadow detail and no low-level noise.
The colour is awesome, with fully saturated colours on display all over the place. The cartoon colouring is part of this movie, and it is beautifully preserved. There is no colour bleed, even under the extreme provocation it gets here. Skin tones are a tiny bit orange, but that could well be the make-up used.
Film artefacts are to be expected in a film this old. The delight is that they are so few and far between and so untroubling. The bad news is that there is aliasing, moire, and MPEG background shimmer. The good news is that these are all fairly minor, and won't impede your enjoyment. I am surprised at how clean this transfer is.
There are subtitles in 13 languages, including English. The English subtitles labelled as English for the Hearing Impaired, and they do subtitle the sound effects. The subtitles are clear, well-timed, and accurate - the occasional abbreviation is inevitable with dialogue of this detail, but it's nicely done.
The disc is single sided (nice label), and dual layered (RSDL-formatted). The layer change lies at 30:54 - I defy you to spot it without technical assistance, because it is hidden beautifully in a scene change.
The soundtrack is presented in English, in Dolby Digital 2.0, not marked as surround encoded. That's what I listened to, 'cause there ain't no other choice.
The dialogue is clear and readily understood - that's critical to allowing you to enjoy the comedy. There are a couple of lapses in audio sync, but they don't impede enjoyment of the movie.
The Nelson Riddle score is well-suited to the movie - it's brassy and exciting.
The soundtrack is a straight 2.0 effort, without surround encoding, implying no signal for the surrounds or subwoofer. My decoder managed to dredge up a little bit of surround sound, but nothing significant. I suspect the original soundtrack was mono, so we're not missing out.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menus are animated, with sound, but the real joy is in the menu transitions. This is a well-made Bat Menu.
I was rather looking forward to this commentary, but it's a bit disappointing. There are frequent gaps, and they tend to repeat themselves. However, they do have some interesting things to say, so it is well worth listening to.
This is a making-of, made in 2001. If for no other reason, you have to watch this to see what happened to Burt Ward when he grew up - it is interesting to see him with grey hair. The footage taken from the movie is rather spotty, which makes it clear that the main feature has been restored well.
This is interesting, but disappointing - most of it has George Barris, the designer and builder, standing in front of a Batmobile and talking. I'd have liked a more active documentary.
A total of 67 photos, both colour and black-and-white.
A further 27 photos, including behind-the-scenes, and posters.
This trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.
This teaser is shown while starting up the disc - this is just another way to see it.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The R1 version of this disc offers identical extras, and what sounds like a similarly good transfer. The R4 has many more languages of subtitles, but that's about it. I'd say it's pretty much a toss-up between the two.
Batman: The Movie is a classic film, presented on a very good DVD.
The video quality is far better than we have cause to expect of a film this old.
The audio quality is fine.
The extras are entertaining.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|