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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Mystery > Crime > Murder > Serial Killer > The Batman 4K (2022/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

The Batman 4K (2022/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B Sound: A- Extras: C+ Film: B+

Just when you think the world of Batman might be played out, you get another surprise. Though a stand-alone Ben Affleck film he would also direct, but health issues left him to drop out and eventually, the whole project was shelved. This also meant, even with Michael Keaton coming back to the role, Affleck was joining Christian Bale, Val Kilmer and George Clooney in retiring from the role, so Keaton could not now be the only live-action Batman around. That means it was time to have a ninth actor play the role and they scored a winner with Robert Pattinson, the one time Twilight actor who had been making a remarkable series of distinct, independent feature films that showed he was a better actor than he might be getting credit for. The result is Matt Reeves' The Batman 4K (2022) and it picks up where Nolan's Batman Begins left off in many ways.

Because Nolan moved into large frame formats (IMAX, VistaVision, 70mm, etc.) he could not stuck with the pure darkness in his sequels that he started with, though he kept much of the same look. One of the darkest superhero films visually or thematically made to date, it is also the spiritual cousin of the first Wesley Snipes Blade film (which put Marvel on the map and became a key transitional film for the whole genre) and the Thomas Jane Punisher film (underrated, getting better with age and more influential than it gets credit for) in the realistic category.

Picking up in merely the second year anyone has known of Batman, a sick serial killer ironically calling himself The Riddler (the underrated Paul Dano finally getting his due) is taunting the Gotham Police and Batman himself. Fortunately, Batman (secretly Bruce Wayne, both well played by Pattinson) has forged a special relationship with the highly uncorrupt Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright doing what he does best) as the murders get more bizarre and disturbing. Add it connection to the power and capitalist elite of Gotham City and you know this is going to get ugly fast.

This power includes dirty power of organized criminals led by a highly overconfident Carmine Falcone (the incredible John Turturro, proving once again why he is one of the best in the business) and his deadly underlings, including the greedy, disturbing Penguin (an unrecognizable Colin Farrell, brilliant and scene-stealing every time) think they have the town wrapped up. Then there is the wild card, Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz in a career-making role, aka Catwoman, holding her own against a very hardcore, heavyweight cast with unbelievable panache) who is as interested in getting involved with whomever Batman might be while more than ready to tear down the local power structure. Too bad there are a few secrets even she does not know and not just the caped crusader's secret identity.

The film does an amazing job of keeping its screenplay tight and consistent, though maybe the climax was a bridge too far, but it also makes very clever uses of intertextual references to some of the greatest thrillers of all time, that happen to be some of the great films of the 1970s, including a few beyond that genre. Unlike most people who try this, they do it, do not wallow in it and do not let their story stop for one minute in the process. That is not easy.

This is not for children and is part of a small, rare list of PG-13 films that are lucky they did not get an R-rating, but it never squanders or abuses the privilege, also conjuring the Batman comics of the very late 1960s after the comedy of the Adam West series, going into the mid-1970s as part of a special, adult, mature period for the character we would never see again. It is that rare film that when I rewatch it or any part of it, I cannot believe what they pulled off. It is a film that asks many questions the Batman movies have not yet (cheers to Nolan in particular for his approach) asked and that is why The Batman 4K is a genre classic and maybe just a little bit more.

Now for playback performance. Hard to believe, but until this feature film, every single big screen appearance of Batman has been shot on 35mm film or an even larger frame photochemical format, up to the Nolan/Bale and Snyder/Affleck films as both directors insist on film. So, 79 years since the first black and white Batman serial in 1943, we get a 2160p HECV/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image originating on Ultra HD Arriflex cameras with new ALFA anamorphic lenses and underrated, excellent J-D-C Scope lenses that work extremely well in combination. These lenses are new, especially for the new generation of Arri 4K+ cameras and I like them, though Reeves and Director of Photography Greig Fisher, A.S.C., A.C.S., (who just won the Oscar for his lensing of the Dune remake) selectively dirtied the lenses in places to add to the darkness.

Such strategies have been used to add realism to films taking place in other worlds before (Soylent Green a great example with different intents and results that worked) and also use the idea of going out of focus to add to the darkness. This was famously seen with the amazing Director of Photography Tak Fujimoto in his work on The Silence Of The Lambs, but with the use of a Nirvana song, it also evokes their great music videos and especially the ones directed by Kevin Kerslake. To go with the Grunge Rock movement, a few new styles of music video arrived and a combination of darkness and out of focus shots were a signature, especially in Kerslake's better videos (his commercial success meant he had to work with some talentless, forgettable bores to go with all the great acts he worked with) and makes it fare to say this film uses 'Kerslake-Vision' very well as a result. Because of the darkness, yet remarkable use of color, you get some unique demo shots throughout. Add the great scope compositions and you have a presentation that is very impressive!

The regular 1080p 2.35 X 1 image on the Blu-ray is passable, but misses so much color range, detail and depth, the difference can be like a Blu-ray versus a DVD, so it can only be considered an inclusion just in case a 4K player is not around.

On the other hand, both discs include the very impressive, lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) sound mix that is state of the art and one of the best now out there, though it has patches of silence and no talking by necessity. Pattinson's voiceovers sound fine too, Michael Giacchino's music score is one of his best from an already impressive career and in an interesting choice, they hold back overdoing the overhead and full-12-track surrounds and sound all the time to keep it in the relatively grim, quiet mode of the film's narrative. I had no problem with that approach.

Extras are nice and include Digital Copy, while the discs add the featurettes Vengeance In The Making

  • Vengeance Meets Justice

  • The Batman: Genesis

  • Becoming Catwoman

  • Looking for Vengeance

  • Anatomy of The Car Chase

  • Anatomy of The Wingsuit

  • A Transformation: The Penguin

  • The Batmobile

  • Unpacking The Icons

  • and Deleted Scenes with Director's Commentary

Fortunately, a sequel is on the way and that is great, because it is the kind of superhero genre film Marvel (especially since their Disney acquisition) cannot make anymore because it is not child-friendly enough. The Batman is a genre classic that will more than prove itself in the long run by getting back to basics and delivering in ways even I was not expecting.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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