The Batman 4K Collection
review by Bobby Blakey
Before the new DCU or The Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy, Tim Burton kicked off the now iconic franchise with 1989s Batman. This was a new take on the dark knight in the film world as most fans were still just used to the 60s TV series. This film kicked off a franchise that featured 3 more films in the series that were pretty much a mixed bag, but all unforgettable. Now Warner Bros. is bringing all four films home to 4K for the first time ever.
Batman follows the Dark Knight of Gotham City who begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker and starred Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. In 1992 Keaton and Burton reteamed for Batman Returns bringing along Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film followed a corrupt businessman and the grotesque Penguin who plot to take control of Gotham City and only Batman can stop them, while the Catwoman has her own agenda.
Both of the Tim Burton outings offered up a new take on the Dark Knight that we hadn’t seen before. Gone for the most part was the campiness of it all and in its place a dark take on the dark knight detective that really worked for audiences. I love both of these films, but always felt that it was actually Returns that started taking it into a more cheesy direction and lost some of its edge while still being a great film.
In 1995 director Joel Schumacher took the helm with Val Kilmer in the title role with Batman Forever costarring Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Nichole Kidman and Chris O’Donnell. This chapter follows Batman who must battle former district attorney Harvey Dent, who is now Two-Face and Edward Nygma, The Riddler with help from an amorous psychologist and a young circus acrobat who becomes his sidekick, Robin. The final chapter once again brought Schumacher to the helm, but this time with George Clooney in the role for 1997s Batman & Robin. This chapter co-starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman and Alicia Silverstone and follows Batman and Robin who try to keep their relationship together even as they must stop Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from freezing Gotham City.
While both of these films have clear problems I cannot deny that I still have a love for them. I honestly think that had these come before the 60s camp of it all would have made these a lot more acceptable and different opinions from the fans. To me Forever still felt like it came from the Burton world with just more color and over the top acting that fit the crazy of the characters. Batman and Robin on the other hand went full cheese and felt like a completely different world which made it fall out of place all together.
While there have been releases of these on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray in celebration of Batman’s 80s Anniversary they are finally making their way onto 4K Ultra HD. All four films look beautiful in the 4K Ultra especially Batman and Robin thanks to its so many vibrant colors. I also love that the spine labeling matches the 4K releases of the Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy making them look great together on the shelf. In addition to the films these releases will include collectible packaging with new art designed in stunning glossy retro colors reminiscent of the 1980’s and 1990’s era when the films were originally released in theaters. The 4K UHD, Blu-ray and Digital versions of the film will collectively include more than 17 hours of previously released extras, including full-length commentaries by director Tim Burton on Batman and Batman Returns and director Joel Schumacher on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.
Love them or hate them there is no doubt that they are a must have for any hardcore Batman fan out there so grab your copies when they hit 4K Ultra on June 4 and also available as a four-film collection on September 17. The 4K UHD singles and the four-film collection available in September will also include remastered Blu-ray discs of the films.