Monday, May 30, 2022

THE BATMAN (2022) (WBHE 4K UHD Review)


Label: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Region Code: Region-Free (UHD), A (Blu-ray) 
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 175 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, TrueHD with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 2160p UHD Widescreen (2.39:1), 1080p HD Widescreen (2.39:1) 
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Robert Pattinson Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Jayme Lawson, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell

The latest entry in the Batman series comes to us from director Matt Reeves (The Planet of the Apes)starring Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse) as the titular Batman and his alter-ego Bruce Wayne. This is a year two exploration of the not-quite-yet fully realized crime-fighter, as he sets about battling the criminal elements in Gotham City. He's aided by his loyal butler Alfred (Andy Serkis, King Kong) and Gotham good cop Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright, HBO's Westworld). He's been battling the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures for a year at the start of the film, having established himself as a one-man wave vengeance, but despite being feared by the underworld it's a seemingly losing battle. 

A new villain has emerged in Gotham, some called The Riddler (Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood) is carrying out a series of sadistic crimes, eliminating crooked politicians and well-connected society types, a leaving a trail of cryptic clues, and this particular incarnation of The Bat allows us to see something we haven't really seen before, Batman as the World’s Greatest Detective, this is a bot more in The Long Halloween comic run more so than Frank Miller's The Dark Knight.

Other characters that come into play include Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz, TV's High Fidelity) aka The Catwoman (though she is never called that by name in this film), crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro, The Big Lebowski) and his right-hand enforcer Oz, aka The Penguin (Colin Farrell, HBO's True Detective). First off, I love Pattison as Batman, he looks fantastic in the cowl and cape, his jawline is perfect, his line delivery is aces - I loved it through and through. His turn as Wayne left me cooler, but it's interesting because this is not the Playboy version of the character we've come to know, he has not quite figured out that part of his personality yet; here Batman is the dominant side of his character, Wayne is the real mask. 

I also love Jeffrey Wright as Gordon, his partnership with Batman is key and he filles those shoes quite nicely, bring the Bat into crime scenes to sleuth out clues the cops have missed much to the chagrin of the other cops. Serkis as Pennyworth isn't guide the enabling gadget-guy he's been in various comic, TV and film adaptations, but he's also key to who Wayne has become, for better or worse. Kravitz shines as the cat-burglar Selina Kyle, who aligns with Batman to find out who killed her roommate, looking like she just walked out of the pages of Frank Miller's Year One graphic novel. Baddies come by way of Turturro and Ferrell, mob guys who come under fire from both The Riddler and Batman, and Ferrell is buried under some fantastic make-up and appliances that make him unrecognizable but the performance shines through. Dano is terrifying as The Riddler, inspired by the Zodiac Killer he's unhinged and brutal, but he's got a plan and he brings it to fruition, which make him even more scary. Some of the violence is really pushing that PG-13 rating, especially the first kill with a heavy carpet tool. 

I love the dark look of the film, it's Gothic but not Tim Burton's Batman Gothic, but that's sort of in the ball park. The look of the film is pulpy, worn-in and semi hopeless, the sun never seems to shine. The look of the Batman is also pretty fantastic, it's not refined with gadgets, it's stuff Wayne made at home without the benefit of someone like Lucious Fox developing them for him like in the Nolan trilogy. This Batman is still scared of heights and he doesn't have a cape-glider, nope, he's got a squirrel suit that's you know he has never used before, and he hesitates for a second before taking a leap off a building at a certain point. He does have a pretty gnarly custom built muscle car with a rocket engine strapped onto the back though, it's a terrifying car with a ferocious roar that wouldn't have been out of place in a horror film about a killer car. 

There's not much I didn't love about this, not even the nearly three-hour run time, I didn;t feel it, and I have watched it four times so far. I absolutely lobe the noir detective spin on Batman, the way the world feels like David Fincher's Se7en, and how The Riddler clearly is inspired by the Zodiac Killer, it all fits together so well and the vision is something new that we haven't seen up on the big screen yet, it felt fresh, it was menacing, and I dig it. 

Audio/Video: The Batman (2022) arrive son 4K UHD from WBHE in 2160p UDH widescreen (2.39:1) with 
Dolby Vision and HDR10 color-grading. This is an extremely dark and moody looking world, gorgeously filmed by cinematographer Greig Fraser (Dune), and if I remember correctly I had read that this was filmed on digital and then transferred to film to pick-up the grain textures and then rescanned, giving it a wonderfully detailed and filmic look to it. Thankfully the HDR offers some very pleasing black levels and contrast which help bring out some truly terrific shadow detail. Not a film with a lot of color to it, but when we get the car chase and the ensuing fireball explosion and later scenes of Batman carrying a torch in the dark the colors look incredible. 

Audio comes by way of English Dolby Atmos on both the UHD and Blu-ray, there's a near constant downpour of rain throughout, and more amped up scenes like the introduction of the batmobile and the Penguin car chase, and the brutal hand to hand fight sequences delivered by the Batman. The brooding score from Michael Giacchino is bonkers good and has a lot of deep-felt heft in the mix. 

As the film runs about three hours WBHE widely chose to keep the extras on a dedicated disc, and I am truly surprised by the amount of extras we get here, with over two hours of featurettes, including a near hour-long making of that while not super-deep does good work getting into the making of the flick, even offering two deleted scenes. The behind-the0scenes featurettes are quite enjoyable with not only cast and crew interviews but some fantastic behind-the-scenes shots of the making of the film, close-ups of the batmobile and costuming, production design artwork and lots more. The 3-disc set arrives in a black keepcase with a flipper tray, featuring a one-sided sleeve of artwork, and I dig the low-key artwork, a simple shadowy image of The Batman with a green Riddler question mark in his eye. 

Special Features: 
- Vengeance In The Making (54 min)
- Vengeance Meets Justice (8 min)
- The Batman: Genesis (6 min)
- Becoming Catwoman (9 min)
- Looking for Vengeance (5 min) 
- Anatomy of The Car Chase (6 min)
- Anatomy of The Wingsuit (6 min)
- A Transformation: The Penguin (8 min)
- The Batmobile (11 min)
- Unpacking The Icons (6 min)
- Deleted Scenes with Director’s Commentary
    - Scene 52 Joker/Arkham (6 min)
    - Scene 56 Selina Gets 44 Below Keycard (2 min)

Screenshots from the WBHE Blu-ray: