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Click above to purchase "Batman: The Movie Special Edition" at amazon.com

 

Batman: The Movie
Special Edition

review by Zach B. and Anthony D.

 

Rated PG

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 105 minutes

Starring Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Ceaser Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin

Written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr.

Directed by Lelie H. Martinson

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Audio Commentary with Adam West and Burt Ward, Batman Featurette, The Batmobile Revealed, From The Vaults Of Adam West, Behind The Scenes Still Gallery, Theatrical Trailer, Theatrical Teaser, Spanish Theatrical Trailer, "Planet Of The Apes" Cross Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Stereo, English Mono, French Mono, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Bat Scenes (32 Bat Scenes)

Released: August 21st, 2001

Ridiculous. Silly. Super Heroes. Super Villains. Neil Hefti music. Crayola© Crayon Colors. This ain't Tim Burton territory. It isn't even Joel Schumacher territory. No Dark Knight visions here. 1966's "Batman: The Movie" revels in its sillieness as much as Burton's "Batman Returns" revelled in its own mean-spiritedness, and the mere matter of an hour and three-quarters, gives the Dynamic Duo four fractious villains to contend with. In the hands, or the ill-fitting batsuit of Adam West, Gotham City is sure to be safe once more.

Released at the height of its television popularity, "Batman: The Movie" struck a chord with audiences accustomed to viewing ABC television's bi-weekly broadcast ("...same bat-time, same bat-channel.") with its audacious approach to superherodom. Animated "POW's" and "WHACK's" slyly enforced the comic book aspect of the production. Glittering guest stars garnered from the world of "stage, screen and television" brought talent such as Otto Preminger, David Wayne, Eartha (purrrrrr-fect) Kitt, Julie Newmar, Burgess Meredith, Shelley Winters, Frank Gorshin, Vincent Price and Ethel Merman into Gotham City to wreak unlikely havoc as way over-the-top histrionics only added to their villainy. Growing up with "Batman," baby-boomers were introduced to a brightly lit, highly stylized (and ever-so-obviously fake) scenario of GOOD vs EVIL, in which EVIL never stood a chance. Of course, this being the 1960's, evil was mostly megalomaniacs whose plans to take over the world were far more humorous than deadly threats. One could not possibly imagine James Bond's nemeses Auric Goldfinger, Doctor No or Stavro Blofeld, in all their worldly reality, posing a lethal threat to Batman and Robin; whereas Egghead, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, The Penguin, The Riddler, The Joker and the never-to-be forgetton Catwoman were right at home.

The movie, though quickly made to cash in on the show's popularity, reinforces its comic book roots constantly, and quite honestly, is as close to viewing an actual comic book on screen as one is likely to get (Please, somebody, release Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy" to dvd). Sure, it's goofy. Certainly it's self-mocking. And, lest we forget: it's C-A-M-P. But, holy cinema, Batman, it's a fun ride while it lasts. Most of that fun comes from the dead-on serious performances of Burt Ward and Adam West as Robin, The Boy Wonder and Batman/Bruce Wayne contrasted with the off-the-wall behavioral antics of the fabulous four villains Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman personified by 40's matinee idol Cesar Romero, 60's impressionist extraordinaire Frank Gorshin, 30's character actor Burgess Meredith and 50's beauty pageant stunner Lee Meriweather who were all obviously given the direction that "nothing is TOO big."

Of course the plot is disposable. The four villains team up quite suddenly to rid themselves of Batman for the simple reason that he will no longer interfere with their treachery. What starts with a simple kidnaping plot of a naval commodore, escalates into a series of traps and a mission to take over the world's most important political figures with a villainous new toy called a "dehydrator." But Batman has gadgets. Batman has toys, too. Batman has The Bat-Mobile. Batman has The Bat-Claw....you name it, Batman's got it. All that, and Robin, too.

"Batman: The Movie," watched in the right mood, is a pleasing little trifle, not a cinematic masterpiece. But, hey, with the exception of the two "Wayne's World" movies, it's probably the best of the small screen to big screen incarnations of tv favorites. A family-friendly comedy, with some hysterical hijinks, not to mention a rubber shark that wouldn't be a fish out of water in a vaudeville sketch, "Batman: The Movie"delights in spite of itself. It captures everything that the tv series had going for it, including silent film star Neil Hamilton as Police Commissioner Gordon and the brilliance of character actress Madge Blake, just made bigger and bolder for the big screen. As directed by Leslie Martinson, the movie plays like an elongated television show, which in this case, is a good thing. For those weaned on the darker, somber films based on the Dark Knight graphic novels, this particular Batman will more than likely infuriate. For those of us that grew up with Adam & Burt and those silly costumes however, there is only one Joker - - and it isn't Jack Nicholson, one Penguin - - as much as we admit to loving Danny DeVito's, one Riddler - - NOT Jim Carrey but FOUR Catwomen: Eartha Kitt, Julie Newmar (both on the series, I'm sure that $$$s kept them from being cast within the film's limited budget) Lee Meriweather and Michelle Pfeiffer....but she's another story altogether. Enjoy "Batman: The Movie" for what it is, a time-capsuled culmination of television history transported (via Bat-DVD?) back to the bat-viewing room.

"Batman: The Movie" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and for a film that's thirty-five years old, it looks pretty amazing. The first chapter has some windowboxing, but at the start of the second chapter is clearns right up (I found that a bit odd). As far as the actual transfer, I was really impressed. There are some scratches, pieces of dirth and blemishes on the print, but they're never distracting and give off a good feel to the movie actually. The movie looks pretty sharp but still retains the 1960s look. Colors and fleshtones are really well saturated and look well. There is some grain on the transfer too, but it's not major or distracting for that matter. There is some slight edge enhancment too, but it's barely noticeable. Overall, it's truly a feat what Fox has done with this transfer. Some transfers for recent movies don't look this good!

Fox has provided a English Stereo track for the film, which is merely decent (no 5.1 remix? maybe for the forty-year anniversary). Dialogue is clear and pretty damn crisp, it doesn't sound a day old. There's no distortion or scratchiness in the track. The music and sound effects are also sound very clear, and don't interfere with the dialogue. Fidelity is surprisingly good, but in the end, the sound range is fairly limited. It's not bad, but it doesn't pack that needed Bat-punch. An English mono track is also included, and sounds a bit lower in sound and fidelity when compared to the stereo track. A French mono track is also here, but English closed captions, English subtitles and Spanish subtitles.

The Audio Commentary with Adam West and Burt Ward is a real treat that "Batman" fans will surely love. Yes there are some silence and sparse comments at time, and yes, a lot is not specific to the screen, but this is one entertaining track that has a very good flow to it. The two poke fun, mock, laugh and share a load of information and joy on so much. They clearly have fun reminscing, and the chemistry between the two is apparant off-screen as well. The tid-bits here are never really technical, but rather are a lot of fun and pretty interesting. Incredibly enjoyable, this is one track that's not to be missed and one of the best I've heard in a very long time. A lot, and I mean, a lot of fun. Perhaps more entertaining the movie.

The Batman Featurette lasts about seventeen minutes, and has clips from the movie, still photos and features new interviews with Adam West and Burt Ward. They talk a little bit about the production, but they basically focus on the movie itself. The history, the TV following the series and quite a few stories that do pack variety. Very entertaining, just like the commentary. It's a good compliment to that, so do check this out.

The Batmobile Revealed is a featurette hosted by George Barris, the man who designed the actual car for the show. This nearly six minute featurette has clips from the movie and still photos (that include blueprints), but basically the focus is on the actual car with Barris talking the whole way through. It's pretty informative, with Barris revealing design aspects, production stories and Batman creator Bob Kane's thoughts of the Batmobile, as well as other stuff. Of course, you get to see the actual car itself. Neat.

From The Vaults Of Adam West is a collection of stills, well, from Adam West's collection. Nearly all of them have him, not to mention how humorous some are. There's also a Behind The Scenes Still Gallery with shots of the cast and pictures of the film being made.

Rounding the disc out is the Theatrical Trailer in full frame, the pretty similar Theatrical Teaser, the Spanish Theatrical Trailer and a Planet Of The Apes DVD Trailer.

Holy DVD Batman! A fun, campy delight, Fox has put together one amazing package for the fan favorite. A decent soundtrack, a stunning transfer and a good array of supplements, Batfans, this is a must own. Fans of the series, Batfans in general or those who like some fun, check it out. Not to mention the really sweet retail price!

(3/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(3/5)

(3/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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