Tim Burton and Batman collided in 1989 for what many regard as the birth of the big superhero event movie, in the simply-titled Batman. It now arrives on 4K Ultra HD, but how does it shape up? Is it Bat-beauty, or Bat-beast?
The story: Gotham City is a renowned cesspool of crime, attracting all manner of scum imaginable and essentially run by crime boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance). The police feel helpless, but then a new crime-fighter arrives – Batman (Michael Keaton). It’s good timing, too, because wait until Gotham City gets a load of the new baddie on the block… The Joker (Jack Nicholson)!
Meanwhile, gazillionaire Bruce Wayne (spoiler alert? Also Michael Keaton) is getting a load of photo journalist Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger), who doesn’t realise just how close she’s come to tracking down this mysterious Batman person…
“Where does he get those wonderful toys?!”
The 4K disc: We’d hate to have been those responsible for this transition to 4K Ultra HD, only due to the pressure from fans to deliver. First up, we’re presented with a native 4K transfer, complete with HDR enhancement. Getting straight to the point, it looks fab. Detail is as we’ve never seen it for this film before, and while a fine wash of film grain is present throughout, we never found it particularly noticeable unless specifically looking for it. Gotham City is generally a dingy place, and the HDR treatment afforded here brings out its strengths, providing great detail even amongst the depths of darkness. When there are outbreaks of brightness, from almost everything to do with The Joker through to big stuff like explosions, the brightness levels do their job brilliantly, without being excessive. In all it’s a very pleasingly balanced presentation for standard HDR.
Popping over to the Bat-sound department, behold a shiny new Dolby Atmos audio mix! Danny Elfman’s soundtrack enjoys popping highlights in the added height channels, while the many fight scenes and other raucous outbreaks (including some of those wonderful toys) often go to town. When called upon, the subwoofer channel isn’t backward in coming forward, either – hello, Batmobile! This mix is likely to cause some consternation amongst hardcore fans, however, as several of the sound effects have been updated. We’re not talking story revisionism in a George Lucas style, however many of the cartoonish gun sounds – as just one example – in the film’s original mix have been replaced with beefed up, more realistic effects. The casual observer won’t notice it, in fact many fans won’t, but it is a thing. If you want the original mix you’ll have to pop in the standard Blu-ray that’s included in this package, as the 5.1 track on the 4K disc is also the updated mix.
As for extras, only a Tim Burton commentary features on the 4K disc. That included standard Blu-ray that we mentioned houses a bunch of Bat-booty, however, ranging from galleries and Prince music videos right through to a full suite of featurettes and documentaries.
Release date: June 5, 2019
Format: 4K Ultra HD
Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger
Read our review of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns on 4K Ultra HD here.
Read our review of Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever on 4K Ultra HD here.
Read our review of Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin on 4K Ultra HD here.
Want to know what to get next? Check out STACK‘s 4K Ultra HD specifications guide.