In honor of the caped crusader’s 80th birthday, Warner has released 1997’s Batman & Robin on 4K UHD Blu-ray, struck from a new 4K transfer and Dolby Atmos remix.
The Production: 2/5
Matt Hough reviewed Batman & Robin as part of Warner’s 2009 Blu-ray box set Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology:
Batman (George Clooney) has both of his arms full of trouble in this fourth installment. Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is on a murderous rampage to steal all of Gotham’s diamonds in order to keep himself and his cryogenically frozen wife alive. The evil Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) wants to wipe out all human life to leave the Earth free for her plants. Faithful butler Alfred (Michael Gough) is dying from McGregor Syndrome, and his niece (Alicia Silverstone) invades the household after getting booted out of school. Finally, Robin (Chris O’Donnell) is smarting from constantly taking orders and not being respected as an equal member of the crime-fighting team. Can tempers cool and feelings get soothed so Gotham can sleep easy once more?
Joel Schumacher’s second go-round with the franchise is a bigger messy tangle than his first attempt with an unnecessarily overcrowded cast of characters, pointless scenes which have no place in the story (a street race with motorcycles is the nadir for the franchise), and atrocious acting from Silverstone (who’s simply terrible) and Schwarzenegger (who struggles to wrap his Austrian accent around the endless lame quips and double entendres he’s saddled with). There’s the germ of a good idea here: the rivalry and superhero envy between Robin and Batman and the near-dissolution of their partnership by the clever, alluring Poison Ivy. I’m convinced if screenwriter Akiva Goldsman had stuck with just that and left out Mr. Freeze, Batgirl, and sick Alfred, the film would have had a chance to be a much bigger hit and surely a better film.
3D Rating: NA
Joel Schumacher’s vision of Gotham City is much more colorful than Tim Burton’s, and once again it is those vivid color schemes against a mostly black background that make Warner’s new 4K transfer with HDR10 really stand out. Detail is excellent, from the speckled make-up design in Mr. Freeze to the even more obvious early CGI effects. Much of that also translates to the included Blu-ray disc, which was struck from the same 4K transfer (but downscaled, obviously, to 1080p and no HDR), which at press time is only available in this 2-disc set.
Warner’s new Dolby Atmos mix (which is the default track, for a change) is a delight, sound cues are more discretely placed and sounds move seamlessly from one end of the room to another. LFE is strong, with Elliot Goldenthal’s Elfman-esque score receiving a nice low-end boost as well as explosions and crashes. Heights are used sparingly, more to provide a sense of immersion than any noticeable discrete effects. I wouldn’t say it is a demo-worthy track, but it is an improvement over the original (and included) 5.1 mix.
Special Features: 4/5
Although no new special features have been created for this release, it does include all of the features included on the previous Blu-ray release. The UHD disc contains only the audio commentary as a bonus feature, everything else can be found on the included Blu-ray in standard definition.
Audio Commentary by Director Joel Schumacher
Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Pt. 6 – Batman Unbound (480i; 27:04)
Batman & Robin: The Heroes (480i; 9:22): Includes Batman, Robin and Batgirl.
Batman & Robin: The Villains (480i; 8:10): Includes Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy and Bane.
Beyond Batman (480i; 50:49): Includes Bigger, Bolder, Brighter: The Production Design of Batman & Robin, Maximum Overdrive: The Vehicles of Batman & Robin, Dressed to Thrill: The Costumes of Batman & Robin, Frozen Freaks and Femme Fatales: The Make-up of Batman & Robin, and Freeze Frame: The Visual Effects of Batman & Robin.
Deleted Scene (480i; 0:47): Alfred’s Lost Love.
Music Videos (480i; 14:16): Includes The End is the Beginning is the End by The Smashing Pumpkins, Look Into My Eyes by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Foolish Games by Jewel.
Theatrical Trailer (480i; 2:29)
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere.
If you are a fan of this film, then this is a must-have upgrade whether you have upgraded to 4K or not.