Batman: The Movie

Batman: The Movie (1966)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Still Galleries, Trailers and Teasers

"Batman: The Movie" was certainly the least likely film to be released on DVD as a Special Edition, but fortunately a group of fans within 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment directly lobbied the movie, and here we have it the "Holy Special Edition Batman," as the cover promises. That, and the film itself certainly warrant a closer look at this package that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has prepared to see how this wacky comedy survives the test of time.

In the best comic book manner, the four most powerful villains in the world team up to take down the world’s greatest superhero, and take over the world in the course of it. Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Joker (Cesar Romero) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) are making plans to rid themselves of Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) so that they would no longer interfere with their villainous deeds. They kidnap Commodore Schmidlapp (Reginald Denny) to lure Batman and then begin setting traps for the caped crusader. But every time they try to put an end to his life, his heroism, dumb luck and his gadgets save the superhero and slowly Batman and Robin close in on the lair of the villains. With the help of a dehydrator, the four mad geniuses then try to take over the world’s most important political figures, but once again Batman comes to their rescue. How will this struggle ever end?

If you have seen the film, you are familiar with its goofy humor and its incredibly silly nature. If you have never watched it before, you owe it to yourself to give it a look. "Batman: The Movie" never takes itself or the genre seriously and offers 105-minutes of off-the-wall comedy in a brutal side-splitting superhero parody. Ridiculous and silly is the term best used in conjunction with any scene in the film. Whether it is the number of Bat-labeled items and gadgets in the film, Batman’s costume with painted-on eyebrows, or exploding, flying sharks, this movie has it all in troves. Add to it "Bam!" "Whap!" and "Pow!" icons during the fight scenes and you have a perfect cinematic incarnation of a classic comic book.

The culmination of a highly successful TV series, "Batman: The Movie" is a highlight in TV history, there can be no question. It is in many ways typical for its time in its look, feel and presentation and much of its appeal comes from its vintage quality. Whether you find the cheap sets and stilted acting ridiculous or part of the beauty that makes up this film, it is hard to escape its charm and sincerity to entertain. The fact that the cast is playing all these hilarious characters with a straight face, delivering classic lines that are remembered to this date, only furthers the heart-warming presence of the movie.

The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio on this DVD in a sparkling transfer that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> television sets. Although the film is 35 years old, the print won’t give the age away – although the film itself does. Meticulously clean and free of defects, specks or scratches, the transfer makes watching the film a fun experience.
"Batman: The Movie" is coming to remarkable life on this DVD. Clearly, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has done quite a bit of work on this transfer to create a presentation that is so clear, clean and full of color and detail. There is hardly any grain in the image either, producing a very finely defined picture. Colors are powerful and nicely resemble the color schemes of comic books, further adding to the film’s overall appeal. Nonetheless with its natural looking flesh tones, the movie is firmly rooted in its colors and the deep blacks give it plenty of depth and contrast to work with. No distracting signs of edge-enhancement are evident and the compression is flawless without introducing any signs of digital artifacts.

The DVD comes with an English Stereo audio track, as well as mono tracks in English and French. Although slightly dated, the audio is also surprisingly clean and clear. The frequency response is a bit narrow, creating slightly notched dialogues that appear a bit harsh, and the music also suffers notably from the limited spectrum. Given the film’s age however, I was surprised how well the audio sounds nonetheless, as it creates the perfect sonic accompaniment for the film.

The disc contains a newly recorded <$commentary,audio commentary> by the film’s stars Adam West and Burt Ward. The track has generally a laid-back and entertaining quality as the two remember the making of this film. They try to keep the track flowing quite well, although occasionally their discussion breaks up. Ever so often though, you can tell that fond memories wash over them as they excitedly share those memories with the viewer. There is not a whole lot of technical information in this commentary, but the wealth of anecdotes and information supplied is thoroughly enjoyable.

Next up is a brand new 17-minute featurette that has been created for this DVD. It features extensive interview footage with Burt Ward and Adam West, as they discuss their experiences working on the "Batman" TV series and the movie. They cover many aspects, including their fellow cast members, the production, the gadgets and much more, making it a wonderful addition to the disc. You can also take a close look at the Batmobile in the 1966 featurette "The Batmobile Revealed." It tells you about its origins and gives you a candid look inside this iconic automobile.

"From the Vault of Adam West" comes an extensive photo gallery with production still photographs as well as pictures from the set and the rehearsals. In a separate "behind the scenes Still Gallery" you can take a closer look at promotional images of the principal cast as well as great photos from the set. Of course you shouldn’t miss the trailers and teaser that are also part of this release.

It is obvious in the many details of this release, from the cool flashy menus to the well-edited documentary that this DVD is a labor of love. This love shines through everywhere, making it an even more exciting release than it already is. For fans of the film there can be no question that they have to own this spectacular DVD version of the film, but even for everyone else, I would like to encourage you to check it out. Not only is it a cool and hilarious movie, it is a very cool DVD, too, with many exciting and informative extras. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment showed their love for the film, now it is time for you to show yours!