4K Blu-ray Review: The Batman

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The tale of The Batman film goes back almost a decade to when Ben Affleck was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman in 2013. Originally Affleck wanted to write, direct and star in the film and went so far as to pen a draft with Geoff Johns. The script would’ve seen Batman take on a multitude of criminals that were broken out of Arkham Asylum by Deathstroke in order to wear down the caped crusader so that Slade could advantageously strike with Batman in a weakened state. That sounds like a fun movie, and while I know the DC film universe is a very divisive topic amongst fans, I still find it unfortunate that we’ll never get to see a Batfleck solo film.

Yes, Affleck stepped down as director, and Matt Reeves was brought on in 2017 to replace him. At this time, however, things were a bit messy with the weak reception to Joss Whedon’s Justice League and the only thing certain in the DCEU was that nothing was certain. Reeves decided to take The Batman in a different direction, wanting to focus more on the detective side of the Bat, and his earlier years of being a vigilante. It’s true that for someone who is viewed as the “world’s greatest detective,” we certainly haven’t seen a whole lot of detecting happening on screen.

So with Affleck out, Reeves needed a new caped crusader, and he found him in Robert Pattinson. I won’t spend too much time on the reaction to this casting choice, other than to note that it should be clear by now that the vocal, toxic side of any fandom should simply be ignored, as they wanted to crack jokes asking if Batman’s suit was going to sparkle now (referencing Pattinson’s breakout role in the megahit Twilight from 2008) while completely ignoring the fact that he’s been delivering a number of critically acclaimed performances on the indie scene in the years since then. What’s even better is that Pattinson is beyond perfection in the role, leaving his own memorable mark on a character that’s gone through plenty of iterations over the years.

Any actor who has donned the cape and cowl know the weight it carries when it comes to having to live up to the expectations of Batman’s fanbase. Ignoring the toxic fans who just want to see the world burn and will never truly be happy, the normal fanbase just want to see a great story being told while knowing that their iconic hero is being treated properly. It’s clear that Pattinson understands this and gives the performance his all, while also bringing a couple of new things to the role.

As mentioned earlier, Reeves wanted to focus on Batman being more of a detective, and does he ever succeed at that. The Batman feels like Detective Comics brought to life in a way, which is a vibe that we’ve yet to see from any previous take on the Dark Knight. While there is plenty of action throughout there are even more wonderfully paced, unrushed moments where Batman is taking in a crime scene, figuring things out, or simply dealing with his own trauma. There’s no rush here, which is clear by The Batman’s at-first surprisingly robust three hour runtime; however, once it begins it’s clear that this is a movie that’s been given room to breathe and tell its story the way it needs to be told and not just a bloated rehash of something we’ve seen before.

Another thing Pattison does is showcase Bruce in his younger days as a vigilante, with him already having a batsuit, car, cave, computer without any explanation (and one isn’t really needed. He’s a billionaire and he made it happen. While I do absolutely love how it’s handled in Batman Begins, it’s also nice to just move past it here.) What I’m talking about is the grief that this young Bruce Wayne feels, so much so that he wants to strike fear into the heart of criminals with his presence without any regard for his own safety or well-being. A joke when people saw Pattinson as Bruce was that he’s an emo version of the character, but in truth this young Bruce Wayne is on a destructive path and isn’t keeping up the proper appearances that someone in Bruce’s position is expected to and it shows both physically and mentally in the way Pattinson plays the part.

I haven’t even mentioned Zoë Kravitz’s work as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Paul Dano’s insanely good take on The Riddler, Colin Farrell’s unrecognizable and absolutely fantastic work as The Penguin, nor John Turturoo as Carmine Falcone, Jeffrey Wright as Lt. James Gordon, or Andy Serkis’s take on the beloved character of Alfred yet. You’d think with a cast of characters that large that the film risks Spider-Man 3 territory with just too much to cover to give each character the screen time they deserve, yet that’s nowhere near the case. As mentioned, there’s no real bloat here, and everything happens for a reason. There’s a lot happening, but it’s all connected, and it’s all done so in proper fashion. Oh, and every single one of the above actors absolutely knocks it out of the park in their respective roles.

It’s clear Reeves had a vision and it’s truly great to see the studio get behind him and let it come to fruition the way it was meant to be. That trust allowed The Batman to become something fresh and special in the film catalogue of the character and not simply another retelling of a story we all know far too well. The atmosphere that Reeves brings is one that mixes realism and comic book fantasy nicely, allowing The Batman to stand on its own without any connection to the DCEU. It’s an absolutely fantastic take on the character, with gorgeous cinematography and a score that take’s Batman’s vigilantism and intimidation factor to a new level. Reeves’s take on the world’s greatest detective is both the Batman movie we deserved, and the Batman movie we needed.

4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review

With the source material of The Batman being 4K, the 2160p transfer here is phenomenal. This is a movie where even the scenes that don’t take place at night are often darker or dimly lit as The Batman is a mostly dark film (which isn’t shocking for a Batman movie) and those darks and blacks are incredibly rich in this home version of the film. The textures and details are immaculate, and the cinematography truly shines from start to finish. While the Blu-ray works hard and does the job at still making the film look strong, the 4K transfer is immaculate and does so with ease.

The Dolby Atmos side of the audio is also absolute brilliance, transporting the viewer back into the theater with a rich, full depth of sound that resonates throughout. There are some vital moments in the film, even early on, that are elevated spectacularly by Michael Giacchino’s score, and they continue to shine that’s to this fantastic transfer. Overall this is truly one of the best 4K transfers from top to bottom that’s available.

Special Features:

Vengeance in the Making – This is a massive 54-minute feature that features loads of the cast and crew, all talking about working on The Batman, how the story came to be and how it was built and developed, the visual design and plenty of other aspects of the filmmaking process. This is a must-watch for fans, and I put it at the top of the special features because that’s what they should’ve led with, even though this feature is found in the middle of the pack when it comes to the special features menu.

Looking for Vengeance – This featurette is just under 5-minutes in length and focuses on fight choreography Rob Alonzo, Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves talking about the training that went into the film, as well as the style of fighting they had Batman focus on.

The Batman: Genesis – This featurette comes in at 6-minutes in length and sees Reeves and Pattinson talk about Pattinson’s casting, how they wanted to portray this iconic character, and how focusing on Batman early on in his career gave them opportunity to do more with him.

Vengeance Meets Justice – This featurette comes in at 8-minutes in length and we get to hear from Paul Dano, as well as the returning Reeves and Pattinson, who talk about the similarities and differences between Batman and The Riddler.

Becoming Catwoman – This eight-and-a-half minute featurette focuses on Zoë Kravitz and her representation of Catwoman, her experiences and what she brought to the role.

The Batmobile – Here we’ve got special effects supervisor Domonic Tuohy, Reeves, Pattinson, producer Dylan Clark, production designer James Chinlund, and Jeffrey Wright all talking about the Batmobile, how iconic it is, and how they came up with the new version of the car for this film, and what led them to that choice.

Anatomy of the Car Chase – This is a six-minute featurette that sees the cast and crew talk about the insane car chase that takes place between Batman and The Penguin.

Anatomy of The Wing Suit Jump – This is a six-and-a-half minute featurette that touches on the Wing Suit that Batman uses at one point in the film, and how the scene it was used in was filmed in a unique way.

Unpacking the Icons – This featurette comes in at just under 6-minutes in length and it focuses on the costumes found within the film, the tone, and how the suits were designed to best fit the characters wearing them, and what they had to do within them.

A Transformation: The Penguin – Here we get a fun 8-minute featurette that delves into the extensive prosthetics and makeup process that were used to take Colin Farrell from the lovable Irishman we all know and love and turn him into an unrecognizable crime boss.

Deleted Scenes – There are only two scenes found here, and one was released online after the film came out, so many may have seen it already. It involves a meeting between Batman and The Joker, which is just under 6-minutes in length. It’s a fantastic scene, but it was rightfully left out, as it would’ve thrown off the pacing of the film, taking the focus off of The Riddler too much, and just didn’t fit in there properly. It works much better as a deleted scene, where the viewer can still pretend that Batman did go and visit The Joker for some answers at some point, it just happened off-screen. We also get a Reeves commentary track on both deleted scenes.

Disclaimer: A review copy of this Blu-ray was sent to me to cover in honest and truthful fashion.

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents The Batman. Directed by: Matt Reeves. Written by: Matt Reeves, Peter Craig. Starring: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, John Turturro, Andy Serkis, Peter Sarsgaard. Running time: 176 minutes. Rating: 14A. 4K Blu-ray Released: May 24, 2022.

Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.