Batman Begins, Blu-ray [Limited Edition Giftset] (2005)

by | Jul 19, 2008 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Batman Begins, Blu-ray [Limited Edition Giftset] (2005)

Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes
Studio: Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. [Street date: July 18, 2008]
Video: 2.4.1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9, 1080p HD
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English DD 5.1, French (Quebec)/Spanish/Japanese/Portuguese DD 5.1 (stereo on extras)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese
Extras: In-Movie Experience (may require firmware upgrade); Prologue (6 min.) to The Dark Knight IMAX Feature, Taxman Spoof, Batman – The Journey Begins, Shaping Mind and Body, Gotham City Rises, Cape and Cowl, Batman – The Tumbler, Path to Discovery, Saving Gotham City, Genesis of the Bat, Reflections on Writing Batman Begins, Digital Batman, Batman Begins Stunts, Confidential Files, Theatrical Trailer, Stills Gallery
Length: 140 minutes
Rating: *****

The epic that restarted the Batman franchise is back on Blu-ray to assist in promoting the brand new Batman theatrical film The Dark Knight, and among the chotchkies that come with it is a $7.50 discount ticket for the new film, including the IMAX blowup. Other physical bonus items include a 32-page booklet with script pages, storyboards and film stills from The Dark Knight, Two 16-page DC comic book adaptations of the prologue to The Dark Knight (one with comic art, the other with stills from the film), Batman Begins Lenticular 3D art piece, 5 Batman collectible postcards.

Batman Begins
restores a more fearsome and grim Caped Crusader, and ignores the previous films which had reached a nadir with the laughable 1997 Batman & Robin. (But it’s not nearly as grim as the new theatrical movie!) It is like a prequel in telling the whole story of how Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed during a holdup, how he developed a fear of bats after falling into a well leading to a bat cave, and as a young man went to Tibet to train to be a ninja with the mysterious Ducard. When urged to execute a criminal prisoner in order to join the League of Shadows, Wayne rebels and destroys the ninja’s redoubt while saving the life of Ducard.

After seven years Wayne is picked up by the Wayne’s butler Alfred (Michael Caine) and upon returning to Gotham City he decides to face his fear of bats and clean up Gotham as a one-man superhero. Since he has no super powers like other superheroes, he must rely on the facilities of the huge Wayne Corporation, which has developed a number of undercover weapons and gadgets, overseen by Q-like Morgan Freeman.  Best of the gimmicks is the tank-like Batmobile.  Tom Wilkinson plays Gotham’s gangster boss, who is defeated by Batman with the help of the one honest police officer (played by usual villain Gary Oldman).  But then it develops that the big boss’s boss is really the former Ducard, who has now become the arch villain and intends to completely destroy Gotham, which of course Batman has to counter.

The transfer is excellent, the soundtrack noisy as hell – sometimes overly-so, since one will want to turn up the level to hear low-level dialog.  There’s plenty of LFE action, to be sure. The many very dark scenes show high detail and depth. The letterboxing bars on RPTVs and direct-view TVs are extensive due to the 2.4.1 aspect ratio.  I had to install yet another firmware update in my first-generation Elite player in order to play this Blu-ray at all.  (Before doing so, inserting the disc turned off the player and crashed my Sunfire AV preamp.)

 – John Sunier

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