In 2022, fans and moviegoers were invited to embrace another take on a live-action version of DC Comics’ venerable Dark Knight.
Given its now blockbuster status, director Matt Reeves’ dark thriller has seemingly struck a pop culture chord as The Batman (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, unrated, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 115 mins, $39.99) continues to climb the ladder of global dominance and saturation as it moves from movie theaters and HBO Max to ultra-high definition disc format.
In the dark tale, a Halloween night murder introduces Batman (Robert Pattinson) to the audience. Two years into his suicidal vigilante spree to clean up a criminal plague in Gotham City, Bruce Wayne’s alter ego works closely and often side-by-side with police detective James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright).
And, he’s not just Batman, he’s “Revenge.”
After a mysterious killer nicknamed the Riddler (Paul Dano at his most unstable level) begins slaughtering officials, even daringly leaving notes for Batman at crime scenes, our brave hero goes on the hunt to unravel a conspiracy. at the highest level, even affecting his family, which has kept Gotham in a cesspool of corruption.
Mr. Pattinson does the cultural icon no harm and delivers the moodiest of them all. He’s not a muscular, growling brute, but nimble, almost sickly, and wearing the latest version of urban combat gear. Hidden in the shadows, he is a sullen, bruised and hardened young man, who speaks with his fists, despite his keen investigative spirit.
Mr. Reeve’s interpretation of the myth also allows the villains to match Batman in psychotic charm.
The Riddler, dressed in fatigues and an olive leather combat mask, not green leotards and mask, is a sadistic serial killer, torture-loving, obsessed with uncovering the sins of Gotham, and inspired by Batman.
The Penguin (an unrecognizable Colin Farrell) acts as first minion to crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), hardened by life on the streets, wise of the Sopranos variety and foolishly fearless.
And, Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz) has more to do than fly as she obsessively seeks revenge for the murder of a friend while finding an unusual attraction to the Caped Crusader.
All glued together with a hard grain, “The Batman” is as much a crime thriller as it is a mystery filled with emotional angst and drama. It almost rises to Christopher Nolan’s Urban Hero Trilogy while gloriously embracing some of the darker elements of the Bat’s 80-year history.
4K in action: Transferring 4K source material with high dynamic range enhancements brings the hazy and sometimes dreamlike visual presentation of Mr. Reeves and cinematographer Greig Fraser to life.
Scenes and action that often takes place in darkness and dissolves into shadow with a skyline lit by the ominous signal of the bat stay true to the artist’s dark vision but remain detailed all along.
Rain, fog, and steamy windows obscure but artistically enhance scenes while visual pops are relegated to fiery explosions of gunfire, bombs, and crashing vehicles.
Moments to visually relish the Batman escaping the full police force by leaping off a building and flying around like a fruit bat, then crashing through the city streets, or the hero using a rocket ship red to lead a group of people to safety.
A quality moment has the silhouettes of Batman and Catwoman on the roof of a building under construction as they stand in front of a Gotham sunset.
Best extras: First, viewers are given a nearly hour-long production diary beginning with the start of filming in January 2020, in which Mr. Reeves and crew discuss how to make this Batman different – powerhouse. eventually into Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s 1930s hero and Frank Miller’s freshman year. mini-series – culminating in a crime novel steeped in multi-flavored noir styles.
Topics such as using sample comics for visual references are mixed between specific days on the set cover; explore the design of the latest Batsuit and its weapons; the motives of the wicked; coping with the shutdown of COVID-19; filming in Liverpool; design a virtual city of Gotham; and flood a city.
Then nine additional featurettes (nearly an hour of content) cover building a super-powered version of the Batmobile from the ground up; the realistic make-up design that turned Mr. Farrell into the Penguin; create the Batsuit and gadgets; and spotlights Catwoman and the Riddler. All segments are completed with insight from Mr. Reeves and words from the key cast and crew.
Finally, the disc offers a pair of deleted scenes with commentary by the director. Most significant being the introduction of the criminally insane individual who would become the Joker.
Mr Reeve describes his Clown Prince of Crime as a man with a degenerative skin disease distorting his face and outlook on life while adding a permanent maniacal smile, loosely based on actor Conrad Veidt’s performance in “The Man Who Laughs”.