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Holy anamorphic widescreen Batman! The Caped Crusader gets done right on DVD! Fans of the campy 1960’s television series should be quite happy, now that BATMAN: THE MOVIE ($20) has come to DVD. Not only will fans be delighted in owning this keepsake of the classic camp TV series, but the folks at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have done a truly great job with the DVD- producing a disc the offers a top notch transfer and some super supplements.

For those unfamiliar with BATMAN: THE MOVIE, this film was produced at the height of the television series popularity. Based upon the classic comic book character, this incarnation of Batman is very much like a comic book brought to life- taking a very tongue-in-cheek approach to the material. Absurd, stilted dialogue seems lifted from the comic book page, as does the framing of the action sequences, which have all the stylistic flourishes of the print medium- when else has "Pow!" "Whap!" "Thwack!" "Biff!" "Klonk!" and "KerPlop!" ever been spelled out on the screen in the midst of a fight. The plot of BATMAN: THE MOVIE finds Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) facing off against four of Gotham City’s worst super-criminals, as The Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith) and The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) all join forces to form a United Underworld and thwart the Dynamic Duo. TV series regulars Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Stafford Repp and Madge Blake also make appearances in BATMAN: THE MOVIE.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made BATMAN: THE MOVIE available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a truly gorgeous transfer of an older film, whose origins stem from the television production. The image on the DVD is wonderfully sharp and detailed. Only shots that contain optical effects show any signs of softness and film grain. Additionally, there are very few blemishes on the film element used to transfer this thirty five year old movie to the digital medium. The beauty of this transfer lies in its wonderfully rendered colors, which are surprisingly vivid for a motion picture of this vintage that wasn’t printed in the old IB Technicolor process. Most of the time, colors leap off the screen, although optically processed shots don’t seem nearly as well saturated. All of the hues on the DVD are rendered without chromatic noise or smearing. Blacks are solid and inky; however, the level of shadow detail is somewhat less than what one sees in a newer motion picture. Clean dual layer authoring keeps digital compression artifacts out of sight.

BATMAN: THE MOVIE is offered with a new Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack, in addition to the original monaural track. Both tracks demonstrate the frequency limitations found in older audio recordings, although the stereo track does offer some modest enhancements that make the sound more palatable than plain monaural. The tracks are reasonably clean sounding, without any truly noticeable background hiss or distortion. Dialogue is always fully intelligible and the actors’ voices do come across with a good sense of character. A French monaural track is also encoded onto the DVD, along with English and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound enhance the DVD's delightfully designed interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some great supplemental features. Topping things off is my favorite feature- a running audio commentary with the movie and TV series stars Adam West and Burt Ward. This is an entertaining commentary track that allows the actors to joke, reminisce and supply fans with wonderful anecdotes and details about the movie and TV show. Next up is a seventeen-minute long Batman Featurette that includes recent on camera interviews with the series stars, as well as a nostalgic look back on the movie and TV show. The Batmobile Revealed looks at the creation and history of one of the most famous automobiles of all time. Two rather extensive still galleries are present on the DVD; From the Vaults of Adam West features the actor’s personal pictures from the production, while the Behind the Scenes Still Gallery offers up studio production materials. Closing out the DVD is an English theatrical trailer, a Spanish trailer and an English theatrical teaser.

BATMAN: THE MOVIE is a highly enjoyable romp made "oh so collectable" by the folks at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD looks great and offers fans some terrific supplements. This is a must own disc for fans of the series, who are going to have their appetites whetted for a DVD release of the entire BATMAN TV series. Let’s hope that Fox will soon be able to deliver on DVD the series that inspired the movie.


 Batman - The Movie


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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