Batman & Robin 4K Blu-ray Review
Batman & Robin Film Review
Allow me to break the ice: My name is Freeze. Learn it well, for it's the chilling sound of your doomAstonishingly, Batman Forever was the 6th highest grossing film of 1995, obviously living off the back of the Burton years, and that success led to one last film. Supposedly rushed into production and with an eye on cashing in on merchandise, director Joel Schumacher, once again, helms the feature and builds on the foundation laid in Forever. The picture was loud, bright, campy, over-the-top and altogether awful. It is rightly regarded as one of the worst big-budget films of all time.
Keeping in the tradition of big-name casting, the film boasts George Clooney, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Elle Macpherson and, biggest of all, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not that it matters because every one of them hams it up to totally outrageous levels, with perhaps Thurman taking the prize. The only one who really has any kind of range is stalwart Michael Gough, whose outing as Alfred has a touch of empathy. Freeze has always been a terrific antagonist for Batman, a tragic character driven to do what he does because of the love he has for his wife and, whilst this is paid lip service, there is never the depth of character explored to make his actions, and the consequences thereof, matter. Poison Ivy is so ridiculously over the top that the whole thing descends into pantomime.
Elliot Goldenthal returns with his mental score to saturate everything, and whilst the action scenes are plentiful they are replete with slapstick moments and cartoon sound effects. We have Batsuits with nipples, a fascination with asses, terrible, and I mean terrible, dialogue delivered like a kid’s nativity play, and no feeling of urgency or peril; even the citywide climax is devoid of anything resembling danger. Even the 60’s TV show was better.
Thankfully, the films stopped here. There was the awesome animated series on TV to keep audiences entertained in what the Bat should be about, but it would be nearly a decade later before Batman would triumphantly hit the big screen with Nolan’s interpretation. Batman & Robin is just as famous, but for all the wrong reasons.
Batman & Robin 4K Blu-ray Picture QualityBatman & Robin was shot using Panavision Panaflex Platinum cameras on 35mm film and has recently been cleaned-up and scanned at 4K, the result of which has been used for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), High Dynamic Range (HDR10), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Batman & Robin on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
Yet again, this new scan is a huge upgrade over the existing Blu-ray, in every way. Detail is sharp and defined, close up skin has clear texture, clothing has discernible weaves (even the joins in the rubber super-suits), sets have keen edges (the telescope, Freeze’s weaponry, plants in Poison Ivy’s lair) and props are well realised (the Batmobile and Batcave’s respective consoles). Indeed, there’s seldom any loss of detail.
When you factor in the WCG and HDR the image really comes alive. Just like the previous film, Batman & Robin has a very gaudy colour scheme, and each is represented wonderfully. Check out the greens in the jungle lab in Brazil, or the blues of Freeze’s lair, or the red of the Batmobile's flames. The charity event is simply gorgeous – the dynamic colours on offer pop from the screen, so too do the blacklight fluorescence paints of the lair Poison Ivy commandeers. Check out how bright the blues are emanating from Freeze’s armour, or the green of Bane’s venom.
The black level, despite being a far lighter film, is just as deep and penetrating, adding some decent frame depth; the Asylum prison cell showcases some terrific shadow detail too, as does the Batcave. The white scale is just as good, with some blinding sparks from explosions and ice and snow looking well textured.
Digitally, there are no issues to contend with, the original source is, for the most part, clean and bright, I did spot a few instances of flecks and dots, but very rarely; the grain structure is well maintained and gives a nice organic feel to the piece. In all, a fantastic looking image.
Batman & Robin 4K Blu-ray Sound QualityThe same can be said for the Dolby Atmos track, which is effects and bass heavy, loud and fully immersive. Effects hit you right from the off, the credits sweeping overhead and past you (cheap but effective) and then onto the diamond heist in the museum which is chock full of effects to really place you in the action; skating, Freeze’s gun, fighting – the surround and overhead channels have a field day. This does not let up, all the action sequences are stuffed full of effects, while quieter moments rely on ambience to set the mood.
Bass is really heavy in this track with plenty of LF effects that get the windows rattling. It is effectively controlled, though, if mixed slightly high. It is not only explosions and other effects that benefit from this, the score too, as wild and inappropriate as it is, does have some terrific bass stingers, as well as making full use of the surround environment. Dialogue is never missed in the mix, being prioritised to the front, but given a little directionality when needed and sounding very natural too. The track is a wild ride and very engaging.
Batman & Robin 4K Blu-ray ExtrasUHD
Audio Commentary – With director Joel Schumacher trying to defend the decisions made in what is an awkward and embarrassing listen.
Audio Commentary – As above
Shadows of the Bat, Part 6 – 30 minute feature concluding this making of set, is candid and pointed, making it a pretty good watch.
Beyond Batman – Set of featurettes that cover individual aspects of the production: Costumes, Special effects, Vehicles, and Characters.
The Heroes and the Villains – Video profiles for Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane.
Deleted Scene – Just the one.
Music Videos - Four music videos: The End is the Beginning by The Smashing Pumpkins, Look Into My Eyes by Bone Thug Harmony, Gotham City by R. Kelly, and Foolish Games by Jewel.
Batman & Robin 4K Blu-ray VerdictThe downward spiral that started with Batman Forever, lands squarely on its butt with the final instalment of this early franchise; Batman & Robin is simply a terrible film. Big name, established actors play it totally over-the-top, complete with campy costumes, slapstick sound effects, wild and unaccountable music which results in a film devoid of peril, characters and any redeemable features, save one; Mr Freeze actually looked pretty good. Sad to see Batman reduced to such a level.
As a 4K UHD set, the package from Warner is actually pretty good; the native 4K image is stunning with superb detail, bright gaudy colouring, deep blacks and fabulous whites accompanied by a stonking Dolby Atmos track, which is effects and bass heavy and totally immersive. The extras package is recycled from previous discs but is pretty candid in its description of the film. All this can’t save a terrible film though.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.