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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Drama > Martial Arts > Mystery > Heist > Gangster > Science Fiction > Christopher Nolan 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray Sets: Batman Begins (2005)/The Dark Knight (2008)/The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Inception (2010/all Warner Home Video)

Christopher Nolan 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray Sets: Batman Begins (2005)/The Dark Knight (2008)/The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Inception (2010/all Warner Home Video)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A-/A/A/B+ 1080p Picture: A-/A/A/B+ Sound: A-/A-/A-/B+ Extras: B Films: B

One of the big new events for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases comes in the form of the last seven Christopher Nolan films being issued in the format. We started with the latest hit, Dunkirk (see more below) and continue with four big hits at his home movie studio: Warner Bros. Most of these are revisitings of these films, but they continue to age well with much rewatchability.

Batman Begins (2005) was his much-needed revival of the all-time popular DC Comics superhero after the previous series became a spoof of itself by its fourth installment. We looked at it twice before, starting with the previous Blu-ray edition here; a demo at the time...


Years later, the film still holds up, is interesting to look at again since Nolan and Director of Photography Wally Pfister, A.S.C., succeeded in going for the Blade Runner look (interesting now that the sequel finally arrived) and though it has also been discussed a bit that the film has more than a few things in common with Russell Mulcahy's 1995 revival of The Shadow that did not do well, but had its moments. Turns out that was a transitional work in the genre before Blade (1999) arrived and the genre exploded into what it has become today.

There are a few little bits here that don't work or hold up, but this succeeded the Burton/Batman films as a model for the genre to come and the cast is better here than they got credit for.

Many thought the same look would be retained for all the sequels, but Nolan, Pfister, DC Comics and Warner took a step into large frame format filmmaking that lost some of the look of that first film permanently, yet the move to make the Joker the main character a film early for The Dark Knight (2008) was a lucky one as Heath Ledger delivered the breakthrough performance of his career and an amazing film resulted. We looked at it back when it arrived on Blu-ray here...


Despite any changes from the first film, the two fit well together and the makers went all out in great form. They all also knew there was not much more to say or do, so The Dark Knight Rises (2012) was announced as their final Batman film and the DC Universe on the big screen would be a wreck until Wonder Woman (2017, reviewed on 4K Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) arrived, so that's quiet a dry spell when Marvel/Disney (et al) are on a roll.

This time out, the film asks what if the main hero is older, but not a senior citizen (thus, no return of the father hero like Sean Connery's James Bond in Never Say Never Again) but out of commission being tired of trying to save a world that might not even care to be saved, that one man can only do so much, that it takes huge effort to come back after being out of the fight for many years, that maybe the people will rise up in his stead and even a new hero could possibly wait in the wings. The film has what worked in the previous film suddenly hit snags, potency in decline is an issue, as is the meaning of manhood and we even get two strong female characters (one a villain who does not seem like one at first, the other a classic villain (Anne Hathaway a great Catwoman, though she is never called that in the film) and a new supervillain who is his own henchman, Bane (an amazing Tom Hardy) who is a parallel to Batman in a odd way, a variant of what Batman could have easily become under depraved circumstances.

It is a bit long and a few bits don't work, but it is spectacular filmmaking on the highest level as usual for Nolan and when it is all over, the whole superhero and action genre was better for it.

Finally, we have the very, smart, more complex and even still-underrated Inception (2010) that shows Nolan can deliver original, clever concepts (i.e., Memento) despite constant blockbuster feature film success accompanied by critical accolades. We reviewed that film as well when it hit Blu-ray at this link...


Though a few pieces are ines we've seen from other films, this is still remarkable filmmaking that delivers and one to look at again now that Nolan's brother Jonathan has created such an impressive revival of Westworld on cable (first seasons also reviewed on 4K Blu-ray elsewhere on this site). Like all his films, Nolan's feature films are built to last, which is more impressive in an era when most so-called filmmakers only seem interested in ego and disposability.

When the possibility of 4K Nolan films surfaced with the arrival of the format, word was he'd be personally going back to remaster the films. We don't know if that happened, but to do it well, al the films would really need 8K or 10K scans with at least 16-bit color to do justice to them. That has not happened here, but the 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on each 4K version of these films is better enough that they are improvements, yet more like what we would see with some Blu-rays where the same video master was used years apart, but it was obvious the new transfer caught color., detail and depth the older disc missed out on. In this case, it is just the 4K versions are better, though not enough for any of them to earn a higher letter grade.

There is still softness and some flaws on the 4K versions that hold them back, though it should be noted that the Blu-rays were so good, it was going to be hard to improve on them unless they went all out. They did not, though I thought Inception might improve a bit.

Even on Rises, while the 1080p 2.35 X 1 (with IMAX 70mm in 1.78 X 1) digital High Definition image looks fine on the Blu-ray, looks even better enough on the 4K edition that I would still watch it over the regular Blu-ray. That also means none of them match the 4K Dunkirk in playback, but offer enough demo moments for any serious home theater system.

No 12-track sound upgrades (DTS: X, Dolby Atmos 11.1) are offered for these films, though even 12-track sound Dunkirk is not even on 4K with 12-track, so these four films are only offered with DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes from their previous releases (Batman Begins was originally Dolby TrueHD 5.1 on Blu-ray, so that's the only change, but the tracks are identical) so you get fine sound, but not the sonic upgrades one might have expected.

Extras on all four films include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-rays add the maximum amount of extras from their most loaded previous editions. Batman Begins, Dark Knight and Inception retain all their extras from the previous Blu-rays, though Inception adds a few more featurettes.

Dark Knight Rises adds four Original Theatrical Trailers, then we get multi-part featurettes in HKD of the Production, Batmobile, Characters, Cinematography and last look by the makers at the world of Batman.

For more on Nolan, try our Dunkirk 4K review.


We'll get to the Interstellar and The Prestige 4K sets next; soon we hope, to round up all seven 4K Nolan releases.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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