Batman UHD Review

Best it has ever looked or sounded 4.5 Stars

To celebrate his 80th birthday and to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary, Warner Bros has released 1989’s Batman on 4K UHD Blu-ray in a stunning new transfer supervised my director Tim Burton.

Batman (1989)
Released: 23 Jun 1989
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 126 min
Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Action, Adventure
Cast: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl
Writer(s): Bob Kane (Batman characters), Sam Hamm (story), Sam Hamm (screenplay), Warren Skaaren (screenplay)
Plot: The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.
IMDB rating: 7.6
MetaScore: 69

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DD, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 6 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD eco keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 06/04/2019
MSRP: $41.99

The Production: 3.5/5

It’s hard to believe that 30 years ago, movies based on comic books were considered a high risk. Sure, Superman: The Movie was a big hit back in 1978, but each film subsequent had diminishing returns. The idea of a Batman movie had been floating around Hollywood for decades, with the last live action adaptation being the Adam West television series in the 1960s that was more spoof than true to the brooding darkness of Bob Kane’s vigilante. When Warner Bros finally did announce the production of Batman, even before the days of the internet, many fans were at first outraged that the studio had hired the team behind Beetlejuice to bring the caped crusader to life – Michael Keaton would play Batman, Tim Burton would direct, and Warren Skaaren would contribute to the screenplay. Fans would be relieved in December of 1988, six months prior to its release, when the first trailer appeared, a hodgepodge of sequences from the film highlighting the movie’s dark tone.

I hate to say this, but when I first saw Batman on opening day back on June 22, 1989 I found it a bit underwhelming, but over the years I gained more appreciation for what director Tim Burton attempted to achieve. Although an unlikely choice at the time, Michael Keaton is very good here as both Batman and Bruce Wayne, a restrained performance that allows Keaton to bring his trademark idiosyncrasies just under the surface of both characters. Jack Nicholson nearly steals the show as The Joker, incorporating his signature smile into the character’s make-up design and allowing Nicholson to improve much of his performance. If there is a weak link in the casting, it is probably Robert Wuhl as reporter Alexander Knox, who never really seems to be taking the character or the movie very seriously, almost as if he’s in another movie. Danny Elfman’s score, his first big-budget and comic book movie, has now become iconic with the character (his main theme for Dick Tracy the following year would be very reminiscent of his Batman march theme).

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

Batman was shot on 35mm film stock and Warner Bros has given the film a new 4K scan for this release. The 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer on the UHD disc has also been given a high dynamic range grading using HDR10, which helps boost and stabilize the colors while also providing a more perceived depth with deeper blacks and stronger shadow detail. Batman has always been a rather dark film, and it is those darker sequences that really show off the format’s capabilities for an older title. I never owned Batman on Blu-ray, so I really can’t compare how much of a leap forward this release is over the previous release. I do remember that even the 70mm print I viewed back in 1989 seemed rather soft, and overall the film here also appears soft, but that is likely by design. There is some fine detail to be seen here, such as textures in The Joker’s make-up and purple suit, as well as natural film grain. Batman on 4k UHD won’t look like a more modern digitally-shot feature, but this is likely the best it ever has or ever will look. The included Blu-ray uses the new 4K transfer as its starting point, so fans who may not have made the switch to 4K yet will likely want to pick up this release since Warner has not released this as an individual Blu-ray release (much like they did for 2001).

Audio: 5/5

Batman has been remixed in Dolby Atmos (the default track, nonetheless, another nice surprise) for this release, and it has never sounded better. Word on the internet says that this new mix was supervised and approved by both Tim Burton and Danny Elfman, who were never happy with the final mix created for its theatrical release in 1989 (which all previous home video releases used as their source). This new mix opens up the soundstage, sounding much wider and more dynamic. Danny Elfman’s score has a nice weight to it, yet it does not drown out the action or dialogue. Although there are few discrete height effects, they are used to provide a deeper sense of crowd and atmospheric noises. LFE is strong without every being too boomy. The included Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is simply a downmix of the Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 track and not the original 70mm mix, and therefore is a bit redundant.

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 with Director Tim Burton

On the Set with Bob Kane (480i; 2:34)

Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman 480i; 40:39)

Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight (480i; 71:45): Includes parts 1 thru 3 – The Road to Gotham City, The Gathering Storm, and The Legend Reborn.

Batman: The Heroes (480i; 12:40): Includes Batman, Vicki Vale, Alexander Knox, Commissioner Gordon, and Harvey Dent.

Batman: The Villains (480i; 7:23): Includes The Joker and Bob the Goon.

Beyond Batman (480i; 50:41): Includes Visualizing Gotham: The Production Design of Batman, Building the Batmobile, Those Wonderful Toys: The Props and Gadgets of Batman, Designing the Batsuit, From Jack to The Joker, and Nocturnal Overtures: The Music of Batman.

Batman: The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence (480i; 4:25)

Music Videos (480i; 15:18): Includes three music videos by Prince – Batdance, Partyman, and Scandalous.

Theatrical Trailer (480i; 1:44)

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere.

Overall: 4.5/5

Batman looks and sounds better than ever in this release, whether you are equipped for 4K or not.

Published by

Todd Erwin

editor,member

67 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review, Todd! I am so on-the-fence about this. Normally I jump at 4K reissues, especially if it's a new scan. But last night in preparation for this release I watched the old Blu-ray release and it looked and sounded pretty darned good (Sony 4K player to Samsung 4K TV). As you note, the film is soft, so many traditional non-CG effects probably contributed somewhat to that. I'm just not sure how much better the 4K HDR version would be. Maybe I'll wait for Fry's to do their possible discounted price within a few weeks of release date and then get Best Buy to pricematch. If I hadn't just spent $100 on the Toy Story 4Ks, I probably would not have hesitated on this and Batman Returns 4K.

  2. In the early nineties, I thought this was just about the coolest movie there was. But it didn't age well, especially when the post-Schumacher Batman movies allowed Batman to move and do the things he does in the comics and in the cartoons.

    The opening scene is pure magic: the establishing shots of Gotham City with the tour-de-force production design; the family in a situation very much like the one that took Bruce's parents; Batman watching from atop a building; the muggers sorting through their loot and Batman descending in the background, silhouetted by the steam coming from some exhaust pipes; right up through "I'm Batman" is just amazing. But the rest of the movie doesn't live up to it. For most of the rest of movie, Batman is entombed in the suit rather than aided by it.

  3. I’ve lucked out with this movie in that each time I see it, I’m instantly 7 or 8 again, and it’s the most awesome thing ever.

    The spell is broken the second it ends, and intellectually I can see the flaws, but it always manages to transport me.

  4. I've loved this film ever since I was a kid and have it on VHS (both in Widescreen and Pan & Scan), DVD and Blu-Ray (same deal with the other 3 films).

    For me, the magic carries on with the Burton orchestral score and the Prince music in the end credits (both the music score and soundtrack albums are worth listening to if you get the chance).

    4K UHD is a long way off on my upgrade path so I won't be buying this release any time soon (especially since it's not bringing any new bonus features to the table).

  5. Carlo Medina

    I too have to admit that the film didn’t hold up as well as I’d hoped. Another reason I didn’t immediately pull the trigger. Nolan’s films had a lot to do with that.

    Agree. Nolan has finished Batman for me. Not that Bale was necessarily the best but the films were majestic. So I probably won't watch pre and possibly post Nolan; except for the Adam West television series, of course.

  6. I know Nolan's films have added another layer to what many people think of Batman in live-action form so I won't bother defending what I grew up with. I'll just say the Burton films do what the Nolan films attempt to, all the while having an easy way about them. Much more digestible. 🙂

  7. English Invader

    both in Widescreen and Pan & Scan),

    Not really pan and scan as it’s a 1.85:1. film. They just opened it up. You didn’t lose any picture information.

    Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

  8. Tino

    Not really pan and scan as it’s a 1.85:1. film. They just opened it up. You didn’t lose any picture information.

    Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

    4:3 masters were usually opened up a little and cropped a little, the amount varying from shot-to-shot. It was rare that it was completely opened up.

  9. Worth

    4:3 masters were usually opened up a little and cropped a little, the amount varying from shot-to-shot. It was rare that it was completely opened up.

    This was the only first series Batman shot with plates at about 1.66 (not consistent though) so there is more loss than gain.

  10. Thanks for the review, Todd.

    I really wish they had used that extra 5.1 DD track to provide the film's original 70mm audio mix like with SUPERMAN (or at least the 5.1 from previous releases), especially since the remix is apparently so revisionist.

  11. Bryan Tuck

    Thanks for the review, Todd.

    I really wish they had used that extra 5.1 DD track to provide the film's original 70mm audio mix like with SUPERMAN, especially since the remix is apparently so revisionist.

    The remix isn't as revisionist as many would lead you to believe. It's very well done. I love the film and don't regret a penny I spent on it, as it is a fantastic presentation of the film.

  12. Lord Dalek

    Considering how many complaints the old mix gets around these parts, no great loss.

    Interesting to hear. I haven't watched my DVDs in forever (and my equipment back then was subpar) but listening and watching the Blu-Ray on my current equipment was a generally favorable experience. I had no problems with the video or audio of the BD release. I have the version in the funky shell case (not the standard keepcase), not sure when that one was released.

  13. Lord Dalek

    Considering how many complaints the old mix gets around these parts, no great loss.

    It still would hardly have have taken any effort at all to include it instead of the redundant downmix of the Atmos, and then everyone would be happy.

  14. Bryan Tuck

    It still would hardly have taken any effort at all to include it instead of the redundant downmix of the Atmos, and then everyone would be happy.

    Yes, it seems unnecessary to have three different formats of the revised English sound mix.

  15. Traveling Matt

    I know Nolan's films have added another layer to what many people think of Batman in live-action form so I won't bother defending what I grew up with. I'll just say the Burton films do what the Nolan films attempt to, all the while having an easy way about them. Much more digestible. 🙂

    I know that Nolan is held in high regard around here, but I find his Batman films to be missing the fantastic element. I wanted to see the high tech, large, mysterious Batcave. Also, I didn't like that the Bat costume and Batmobile were just corporate creations by someone else instead of Bruce Wayne.

  16. RobertR

    Also, I didn't like that the Bat costume and Batmobile were just corporate creations by someone else instead of Bruce Wayne.

    I dunno. You go the homemade route and you end up with Peter Parker's "onesie" from Homecoming (or was it Civil War?) 😀

  17. Malcolm R

    I dunno. You go the homemade route and you end up with Peter Parker's "onesie" from Homecoming (or was it Civil War?) 😀

    Ah, but there's a huge difference between what's "homemade" to a poor high school student and what's "homemade" to a billionaire industrialist. Think of Tony Stark making the "homemade" Iron Man suit. 😉

  18. I had no problem with the corporate creation route. Because the first split between Nolan and Burton was Nolan wanted to set his in a real-ish world setting vs. Burton's Gotham was straight from the pages of the comics in look and feel. So with Nolan rooting it in real-world'ish conditions, he had to come up with how a billionaire could construct all of these things under the radar. And with Bruce in hiding and traversing the world, he wouldn't have had time to construct those vehicles. The choice Nolan opted for made perfect sense to me, given the setting he'd chosen for his films. Burton's worked for his chosen setting.

  19. And to be clear, I loved Batman and Batman returns. They came out when I was in high school. After Star Wars OOT, Godfather 1-2, and the Indiana Jones trilogy, those were my most watched films of my youth. And there are plenty of examples of films that have held up well for me over the years, and those that have held up terribly (Top Gun, likely right behind the Batmans in terms of youth viewing). I don't think Batman aged poorly. I just think that what I want out of comic book movies has changed dramatically from what I wanted in my teens. And that's a highly personal choice, not meant as a slight to any genre of comic book movies. Nolan I think for me redefined it, but his brutal, real, stark world would have wearied on my eventually, and the Marvel films have taken some of the seriousness from Nolan but re-infused the fun and humor that I also read comics for.

    This is not a criticism of Burton's film. Rather, my personal tastes have moved away from it.

  20. My theory on why this movie doesn't live up to people's past experiences is that prior to this movie the only live action Batman people have seen was the Adam West one which was way campier than Michael Keaton. And to follow up Michael Keaton the series got campier again after he left the role.

    Now after seeing the Nolan movies in comparison the 1989 Batman was much campier than people remembered.

  21. The pre-Nolan films provided some entertainment at the time but I doubt I will watch them again. Also the Nolan films (Dark Knight/Rises) have beautiful cinematography. I find I prefer the mortal superheroes (Batman, Ironman) rather than the more fantastical immortals. On the subject of outfits, I thought Anne Hathaway looked very good indeed!

  22. While I do enjoy the Nolan films, Burton's Batman will always hold a special place in my heart. Burton's version was just so much fun, and Jack Nicholson gives a memorable performance as The Joker (and that's not meant to slight Health Ledger's performance, which was also terrific). I am a fan of Burton's work, and this was one of the few films I actually bought on VHS (not to mention DVD and BD).

  23. Scott Merryfield

    While I do enjoy the Nolan films, Burton's Batman will always hold a special place in my heart. Burton's version was just so much fun, and Jack Nicholson gives a memorable performance as The Joker (and that's not meant to slight Health Ledger's performance, which was also terrific). I am a fan of Burton's work, and this was one of the few films I actually bought on VHS (not to mention DVD and BD).

    Agreed.

  24. Keith Cobby

    Jack was one of the three memorable (and very different) Jokers. The others are, of course, Heath Ledger and Cesar Romero.

    I'd have to add Mark Hamill to that list, of course. 😀

  25. Wayne_j

    My theory on why this movie doesn't live up to people's past experiences is that prior to this movie the only live action Batman people have seen was the Adam West one which was way campier than Michael Keaton. And to follow up Michael Keaton the series got campier again after he left the role.

    Now after seeing the Nolan movies in comparison the 1989 Batman was much campier than people remembered.

    I wouldn't call the 1989 film "campy". It's not as somber as the Nolans and has more fantasy/humor, but I don't see much about it that I'd call "camp"…

  26. Keith Cobby

    The pre-Nolan films provided some entertainment at the time but I doubt I will watch them again. Also the Nolan films (Dark Knight/Rises) have beautiful cinematography. I find I prefer the mortal superheroes (Batman, Ironman) rather than the more fantastical immortals. On the subject of outfits, I thought Anne Hathaway looked very good indeed!

    I prefer Pfeiffer's take on the character, but Hathaway's Catwoman = :thumbs-up-smiley::thumbs-up-smiley::thumbs-up-smiley:

  27. Scott Merryfield

    While I do enjoy the Nolan films, Burton's Batman will always hold a special place in my heart. Burton's version was just so much fun, and Jack Nicholson gives a memorable performance as The Joker (and that's not meant to slight Health Ledger's performance, which was also terrific). I am a fan of Burton's work, and this was one of the few films I actually bought on VHS (not to mention DVD and BD).

    It's funny to recall the hubbub that came when WB put out "Batman" so rapidly – less than 6 months after it debuted! 😆

  28. Colin Jacobson

    I wouldn't call the 1989 film "campy". It's not as somber as the Nolans and has more fantasy/humor, but I don't see much about it that I'd call "camp"…

    I agree. We have to remember the state of comic book adaptations at the time this came out, and the only previous Batman iteration we'd had. Burton's was definitely as step in the more serious direction, and even though Nicholson had moments of really chewing up the scenery, his depiction of the Joker was–for the time–disturbing. Certainly in comparison to the 60s TV show version of the Joker. I wasn't really into the DC comics at the time (was more of a Marvel kid) but I did enjoy The Killing Joke. Well Burton didn't go full Killing Joke, but his Joker was much closer to that in tone than it was to Cesar Romero.

  29. You know, I'll say this. With all this talk about this movie, and someone else mentioned Pfeiffer's Catwoman (one of my early teen crushes over an "older woman")…I'm actually changing my mind and thinking I'll probably pick these two films up. Todd admitted he hadn't owned Batman on BD, so when I read his review I took it with a little grain of salt because of how good to my eyes my recent viewing of the BD was.

    But Bill H. over in his review on The Bits claims it's a marked improvement over the BD…so once again, a fool and his money are about to be parted…

  30. Carlo Medina

    I agree. We have to remember the state of comic book adaptations at the time this came out, and the only previous Batman iteration we'd had. Burton's was definitely as step in the more serious direction, and even though Nicholson had moments of really chewing up the scenery, his depiction of the Joker was–for the time–disturbing. Certainly in comparison to the 60s TV show version of the Joker. I wasn't really into the DC comics at the time (was more of a Marvel kid) but I did enjoy The Killing Joke. Well Burton didn't go full Killing Joke, but his Joker was much closer to that in tone than it was to Cesar Romero.

    While opposing views are too strong to make unpacking Burton vs. Nolan worth it for me as I alluded to earlier, one easy aspect that goes beyond these films is the Joker. The thing about the Joker is his seriousness should have a limit because he's supposed to be a clown. You can't go too far in one direction without compromising the other. He's a dapper clown who hurts people because he thinks it's funny. That's the character. Romero was clearly like this to a fault, and Nicholson and Hamill took that premise to a darker place while keeping the basic character stance intact. For whatever reason it's become acceptable to abandon that. The modern comics and Ledger's portrayal have made him a street punk psychopath, which is not really the Joker.

    This is coming from someone who likes Ledger's performance anyway and generally enjoys the Nolan films for what they are. 🙂

  31. I have no horse in this race, but I bristle when someone says a certain portrayal of a character isn't "real." Characters evolve over time and what WAS the Joker (or Batman or whoever) in the 1960's isn't who he became in the 90's and who he is now. If the Joker was the same guy since Day One and never changed or received a new interpretation, that would be boring as sin.

    I grew up on Romero in syndication and then Hamill and Nicholson. Ledger, Leto and all the actors who have voiced him in animation…they're all different interpretations. And they're all valid in their time period for me.

  32. Colin Jacobson

    I wouldn't call the 1989 film "campy". It's not as somber as the Nolans and has more fantasy/humor, but I don't see much about it that I'd call "camp"…

    This scene would not be out of place in the 60s Batman series.

  33. Touché Neil 😛

    But as others have mentioned, it's all part of the evolution of art as tastes and norms change. Batman overall is a marked departure from the 60s version, and I think it could be legitimately argued that the Nolan versions don't exist (at least not as they are) without Burton's efforts which did by and large change the way mass audiences viewed superhero movies.

  34. This isn't meant to take the place what will be another thorough and fabulous review by Todd, but I just watched Returns last night after watching Batman. Every bit the same care went into that transfer that went into the Batman 4K. It's fantastic. Very apparent from the opening scene where I've never seen the ornate set decoration in the Cobblepot's home so vividly and clearly displayed onscreen. And just like Batman, the Atmos soundtrack definitely "opens up" the soundfield but isn't gimmicky in any way. I have zero plans to buy the non-Burton Batmans, but for those on the fence (and you only have to scroll up to see how on the fence I was about the original Batman) my recommendation is to go for it.

    Oddly enough…I think Returns aged better for me than the original.

  35. Wayne_j

    My theory on why this movie doesn't live up to people's past experiences is that prior to this movie the only live action Batman people have seen was the Adam West one which was way campier than Michael Keaton. And to follow up Michael Keaton the series got campier again after he left the role.

    Now after seeing the Nolan movies in comparison the 1989 Batman was much campier than people remembered.

    I guess it all depends on how they like their Batman. I'm a fan of the '70s and '80s comics. I still read them. Batman and Batman Returns have always been my favorite Batman films. It depicted the comics of that time. I don't care for Frank Miller's Batman and I'm still not a big fan of the Nolan Trilogy (even though I plan on getting Nolan's Trilogy in 4K). It was just too realistic for me. I don't think Batman '89 is campy at all (Batman Returns was considered too dark!). I was going to stick with my blu rays but thanks to you guys, I'll be getting the UHD versions.

  36. Adam Lenhardt

    While simultaneously being the most eighties thing in the entire movie.

    The song, yes, the scene, Batman 60's. In fact the same thing was done in an episode of the 60's Batman with the Joker.

    I was 28 when I saw this movie in '89. I thought it was the coolest thing. I took my father to see it, and while he liked it, he was disappointed that the villains were too cartoony… too campy.

    It hasn't aged that well and yes, I can see the campiness my father saw. Still a fun movie. And Burton's strength has always been atmosphere and that helps make this movie more enjoyable. When this movie came out, I read in the paper about Burton and his approach to the character. He did not really understand the character of Batman and what motivated him, so his thinking was the suit made the Batman and that is the angle from which he told the story.

    In reading everyone's post, it seems the people who have the most affinity to the movie are those who saw it originally at a very young age. Understandable.

  37. Carlo Medina

    Very cool. And an interesting lighting choice (purple for the Joker?). Went to the Petersen Museum once, years ago, and saw cool movie cars there too. I can't remember if they had one of the Batmobiles or not.

    EDIT: Apparently they do.

    I think they were just going for colorful "comic book" lighting. It wasn't quite as glaring in person as it showed up on the photo. They also had one of the cowls and batarangs from Batman & Robin, but we won't speak of that film except in hushed tones of regret. 😉

  38. I half like Burton's Batman: the production design, the lighting, the music, Keaton are great. Nicholson as the Joker: meh. Too Batman '66 for my tastes, especially after reading Miller's take on the character. Also the script didn't present the Joker as the threat he could be, Burton unwilling to commit to the darkness of the character. (Realism has never been Burton's strong suit.) Nolan's version of the character are, to me, definitive. (And don't get me started on the CF that is Burton's Penguin.)

  39. CRW

    Burton unwilling to commit to the darkness of the character.

    Well, remember at the time that the '89 film was considered surprisingly dark compared to what the general public knew of the character, which was primarily the '66 TV show. Comic book fans knew about Miller's work with the character, but even that was only a couple of years old when the film went into production. There's no way that a realistic take on the character, like Nolan's, would have been a success in 1989. We wouldn't have even gotten Nolan's take on Batman had the '89 film not been a massive success with a general audience. While Superman in 1978 started the ball rolling for treating Superheroes as modern mythology, the '89 Batman film really brought about a cultural re-evaluation of the Batman character and the depiction of Superheroes on film, directly leading to the last decade of dominance by Superhero films at the box office.

    For as much as the 1989 Batman is regarded as rather silly these days in comparison to modern Superhero films, its importance as a touchstone in cinema history can't be denied.

  40. We'll never know how audiences would have responded to a darker knight. Maybe they would have accepted that version, maybe not. We do know that Burton had Samm Hamm's original script rewritten and put in line with Burton's sensibilities. (Hamm's script was closer in tone to Miller's graphic novels.) A hero is only as good as his villain and when its hard to make a Joker a serious threat who capers around to the tune of Prince's "Batdance."

  41. Gary Seven

    In reading everyone's post, it seems the people who have the most affinity to the movie are those who saw it originally at a very young age. Understandable.

    I wasn't allowed to see it (I was 9 and my mom thought it was too dark) until I was 12 or 13. Yeah, I liked it then, I like it now, but I agree that it is simply a darker version of the TV series. I totally get that it's a step in the right direction, but I also think that Michael Keaton is where some of the best elements of the movie come from. There's not much for him to work with (hell, there's not much plot to the entire film either) but he's done an awesome job with what was there and I think saved the film from Burton's unfamiliarity with the character.

  42. There's a comedic undertow to the film that undercuts the more dramatic scenes and that says "this is just a comic book movie and the stakes aren't real." Contrast that with the "The Dark Knight" and the Joker and every action in that film has consequences, sometimes fatal ones. The stakes are very real in "DK".

  43. CRW

    We'll never know how audiences would have responded to a darker knight. Maybe they would have accepted that version, maybe not. We do know that Burton had Samm Hamm's original script rewritten and put in line with Burton's sensibilities. (Hamm's script was closer in tone to Miller's graphic novels.) A hero is only as good as his villain and its hard to make a Joker a serious threat who capers around to the tune of Prince's "Batdance."

    The song "Batdance" never appears in the film. "Partyman" appears during the museum sequence, and "Trust" plays during the parade…

  44. Brian Kidd

    Well, remember at the time that the '89 film was considered surprisingly dark compared to what the general public knew of the character, which was primarily the '66 TV show. Comic book fans knew about Miller's work with the character, but even that was only a couple of years old when the film went into production. There's no way that a realistic take on the character, like Nolan's, would have been a success in 1989. We wouldn't have even gotten Nolan's take on Batman had the '89 film not been a massive success with a general audience. While Superman in 1978 started the ball rolling for treating Superheroes as modern mythology, the '89 Batman film really brought about a cultural re-evaluation of the Batman character and the depiction of Superheroes on film, directly leading to the last decade of dominance by Superhero films at the box office.

    For as much as the 1989 Batman is regarded as rather silly these days in comparison to modern Superhero films, its importance as a touchstone in cinema history can't be denied.

    I agree (and said it slightly differently earlier in the thread). Everything needs to be judged in the context of the time it was released. It's easy to look at The Beatles (especially the early albums) and Elvis right now as simple pop/rock. But they were very controversial/edgy at the time because American sensibilities in the 60s was very different than what it is today.

    While Burton's Batmans may not have aged well for me, I don't think they owe anyone an apology or explanation for what they were at the time they were released, which was a stark departure from any previous screen depiction of the titular character. Even though I prefer now the Nolan films, I can unabashedly admit I enjoyed the heck out of them in my teens and early twenties.

  45. Brian Kidd

    Comic book fans knew about Miller's work with the character, but even that was only a couple of years old when the film went into production. There's no way that a realistic take on the character, like Nolan's, would have been a success in 1989.

    There is also Alan Moore's The Killing Joke which is where I rest my case for those who say comic books aren't a true art form. A Death in the Family shouldn't be overlooked either.

  46. Carlo Medina

    I agree (and said it slightly differently earlier in the thread). Everything needs to be judged in the context of the time it was released. It's easy to look at The Beatles (especially the early albums) and Elvis right now as simple pop/rock. But they were very controversial/edgy at the time because American sensibilities in the 60s was very different than what it is today.

    While Burton's Batmans may not have aged well for me, I don't think they owe anyone an apology or explanation for what they were at the time they were released, which was a stark departure from any previous screen depiction of the titular character. Even though I prefer now the Nolan films, I can unabashedly admit I enjoyed the heck out of them in my teens and early twenties.

    Agreed. I much prefer Nolan's films, as well. In my opinion, he's a far-more-talented director than Burton is. (Though I still consider much of Burton's early work to be wonderful.) I look at the late-80's/early-90's Batman films in the context of the time when they were made and how they affected me as a young adult when they were released. Certainly, my opinions of the films are influenced by Nostalgia Goggles, but watching them now, I feel like there is much to appreciate about the talents of the people who made them and how they continue to work as mass-market entertainment that had more thought put into them than the typical blockbuster. Well, maybe 2.25 of them. Batman Forever has some aspects that I appreciate and enjoy, though it was really obvious, even back then, that the series was making a massive tonal shift from the two films that had come before. I didn't even bother to see Bat Nipple-palooza when it was released because I had heard it was so terrible. When I finally caught up with it on home video, I saw that I hadn't missed anything. That film was so insulting to my intelligence that, to this day, the sight of Akiva Goldsman's name on a screenplay makes me shudder. I also used to kind of like Joel Schumacher's films up to that point because, though they weren't Art, he had an off-kilter sensibility that tended to make the end result more entertaining than it might have been if handled by a more-conventional director. I gave up on him after Batman & Robin, though. His output since then hasn't given me any reason to change my mind.

  47. Anyone else notice color differences with the new transfer?

    I compared the vudu HDX stream to the iTunes 4K stream and there’s definitely some color differences. I just took these two shots very unscientifically with my iPhone off my OLED.

    The top is iTunes.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

  48. Vudu generally does not upgrade masters at lower resolutions when they get a new higher resolution master. iTunes does.

    So for example: Warner makes a new 4K master of Batman. iTunes will provide that master to anyone viewing at any resolution. Vudu only adds the new 4K master for viewers actually watching in 4K; they leave the old HD master in place.

    I was never happy with the older version. Setting aside screenshots, I didn’t like how it looked in playback. It wasn’t particularly sharp or detailed and looked to my eyes more like video than film. The new master is sharper, more detailed and has a more film-like look to it.

  49. Josh Steinberg

    Vudu generally does not upgrade masters at lower resolutions when they get a new higher resolution master. iTunes does.

    So for example: Warner makes a new 4K master of Batman. iTunes will provide that master to anyone viewing at any resolution. Vudu only adds the new 4K master for viewers actually watching in 4K; they leave the old HD master in place.

    I was never happy with the older version. Setting aside screenshots, I didn’t like how it looked in playback. It wasn’t particularly sharp or detailed and looked to my eyes more like video than film. The new master is sharper, more detailed and has a more film-like look to it.

    And was approved by the director…..

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