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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Martial Arts > Gangster > Batman Begins (2005/Blu-ray)

Batman Begins (Blu-ray)


Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: B     Film: B



Long after the stunning and ironically out-of-print HD-DVD arrived and folded, the Blu-ray edition has finally arrived and it is as great looking and sounding as the version in the earlier HD print, considered one of the most critically and commercially successful in that dead format.  Now, in this loaded edition (and an even more expanded Limited Edition Gift Set) have finally arrived in time for the sequel’s release, The Dark Knight, is back in a high performance Blu-ray that is the equal of its predecessor.


You can read more about the film at this link:





Now last time, Dolby TrueHD was so new we were uncertain how dynamic the sound was.  Since then, we learned it is one of the best sound mixes on any Blu-ray (or HD-DVD for that mater to date.  The only new item added here are the opening minutes of The Dark Knight, but besides that, the performance is equal to the previous edition and a must-own Blu-ray for any serious collection.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is amazing, was shot on film in the real anamorphic Panavision 35mm, especially in its stunning rendering of Video Black and grey scale, and rightly received an Academy Award/Oscar nomination for best cinematography.  After seeing thousands of standard DVDs and 12” LaserDiscs with Video Black issues, the film simply sets new standards for that and grey scale.  In the pivotal car chase where Rachel (Holmes) has been exposed to one of the Scarecrow’s deadly toxins and there is little time to get back to the Batcave to save her.


It is dark, nighttime, the interior of The Batmobile is dark, Batman’s suit is black, searchlights cut though the jet black and the race is on.  In the DVD version, even being used as a demo in some stores, the black is flat and like old white subtitles on an old foreign film print disappearing into a white background, Batman’s cape and cowl are absorbed by the background since DVD cannot handle the range of black.  In this Blu-ray, Wally Pfister’s (A.S.C.) work is much clearer, the kind of subtle and clever lighting it takes to allow different shades of black to be distinguished.  At first, a comparison of the two formats look the same on the surface, but once you see the depth, range and differences, you will never be able to watch the standard DVD again.  Nolan showed a film print of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982, now itself in a great Blu-ray edition, as reviewed elsewhere on this site) before they went into production so the cast and crew knew what he was aiming for.  Only a very, very small handful of films have succeeded in grasping and capturing that look.  This is one of them.


The brighter scenes also look good, including the arctic swordplay that has subtle shades of color here and there.  Also, this had been blown-up for IMAX presentation and you can just imagine from this (if you missed those screenings) how this would look large.  However, detail and clarity are the key and this Blu-ray are stunning and as compared to other titles in the format, the picture will be a demo standard for a very, very long time to come.


Then there is the soundtrack.  Besides the decent James Newton Howard score, which has some very interesting moments if you listen closely in key scenes, the soundtrack is here in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and even in lesser Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, there is no doubt that this is one of the very best modern multi-channel film soundtracks made.  The mix is constantly involving, has great character and the sonics are the best of any action film on any 5-inch disc for many years.  One way to tell is the sound of The Batmobile in action, but the film is never cheesy, goes for lame sonic trickery and is so dynamic that it sets new standards for home theater sound playback.


In the audiophile world, where there are multi-channel music formats DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD (including those we have reviewed), there are some amazing remixes from classic albums and the occasionally impressive and amazing current music album.  The most sonically aggressive and dynamic of all have been the 5.1 mixes (and in both formats, as fate would have it) have been from the Rock band Nine Inch Nails.  Now, a feature film has come along that can challenge it on those sonic levels and it is Batman Begins.  To say the combination of sound and picture is dynamite is an understatement, but it is something that is not just watching the film, but experiencing it.


Then there are the extras.  Besides the Blu-ray’s version of the In-Movie Experience feature of Nolan, Goyer and company telling you about the film as you watch as an option, you get a stills gallery, original theatrical trailer, Confidential Files story points/facts section beyond the film’s script, Tankman Begins short spoof of the film, pre-production Journey Begins piece about how they once again brought the Caped Crusader to life, Shaping Mind & Body piece about Bale’s work to become Batman/Bruce Wayne, Gotham City Rises piece showing the building up of the new, darker version of Wayne’s hometown, Saving Gotham City about the amazing miniatures, CGI and other effects work that brought the monorail to life, Cape & Cowl on the development of the darkest and deadliest Batsuit yet, Batman – The Tumbler about the new Batmobile, Genesis Of The Bat about Batman’s character, a reflection on writing the film with Goyer, Batman Begins Stunts, Digital Batman effects you “may have missed” and the first week of the Iceland shot dubbed Path To Discovery.  This was a very ambitious production where all the money is up on the screen and that is not easy.


Batman Begins is a winner, one of the best relaunches in franchise history, one of the best films of the Superhero Action genre and will only make you want to see The Dark Knight sequel more and more.  It is also a must-have Blu-ray, worth getting in either edition.  Get it while you can before there is a shortage!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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