Batman and Robin appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This became a largely appealing presentation.
Sharpness worked fine. Due to photographic choices, a few slightly soft moments arose, but the majority of the flick appeared well-defined and concise.
No examples of jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no signs of edge enhancement. Print flaws also failed to appear.
The film went with a pretty lush palette, especially when Poison Ivy appeared, as her scenes offered a good mix of reds and greens. A slew of other hues appeared and the 4K UHD made them sparkle. The disc’s HDR managed to add real pep to the tones and allowed them to excel.
Blacks seemed dark and dense, while shadows boasted fine clarity and smoothness. I thought the image worked very well.
I also felt happy with the Dolby Atmos audio of Batman & Robin. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the track offered a very active and involving affair at all times.
From the opening credits through the conclusion, the mix seemed top-notch. All the channels received a solid workout, as they blasted music and a wide variety of effects. The latter elements provided the best parts of the track, as the action sequences really kicked in strongly.
Audio quality also seemed to be good. Some speech sounded a little edgy, but mostly the dialogue appeared natural and distinct, and I experienced no problems related to intelligibility.
Music appeared to be bright and vibrant, while the effects were loud and accurate. Those elements packed a serious punch when appropriate, as bass response sounded deep and rich. Ultimately, the minor vocal flaws were the only complaints I had about the audio of Batman & Robin; otherwise this was a stellar soundtrack.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the prior Blu-ray? Audio offered a bit more range and impact, while visuals got a considerable upgrade.
The 2010 Blu-ray disappointed in that domain, as it tended to seem soft and bland. The 4K UHD brought notable improvements in terms of definition, blacks and colors, all of which easily topped the Blu-ray. This was an obvious step up in quality.
On the 4K disc itself, we find an audio commentary with director Joel Schumacher. He presents a running, screen-specific discussion that goes over the movie’s cast and crew, sets and visual design, general production and story notes plus issues related to the movie’s tone.
That last area offers the commentary’s most intriguing moments. Schumacher doesn’t come out and tell us he thinks the movie stinks, but he launches no defense as he acknowledges the attacks it received. He often lets us know that the studio wanted a “kid-friendly” film.
He also gets into the financial obligations related to product placement and tells us how a desire for marketable toys influenced aspects of the production. Schumacher ultimately takes the blame for the flick’s problems, but he makes sure we know that a lot of elements were out of his hands.
While those parts of the track are very interesting, the rest is much more pedestrian. As with his Batman Forever discussion, Schumacher doesn’t have a lot of useful notes about the production.
He gives us some basics about the participants and their work, but I can’t think of many remarks that seem particularly helpful. He often praises those involved for their efforts. The commentary’s worth a listen to hear Schumacher offer a veiled attack on his own flick, but don’t expect much beyond that.
More extras appear on the included Blu-ray copy, and Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Part 6 lasts 27 minutes, four seconds. It includes remarks from Schumacher, producer Peter MacGregor-Scott, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, second unit director Peter MacDonald, executive producer Michael Uslan, and actors Chris O’Donnell, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, John Glover, and Alicia Silverstone.
They chat about the atmosphere that came with the success of Forever and the hurried schedule of Robin, the involvement of the toy companies and those pressures, casting and the absence of Kilmer, characters, the movie’s tone and Schumacher’s impact on it, costume controversies, sets, stunts and doubles, security and the hush-hush nature of the production, reactions to the film and possible follow-up efforts.
We get some of Schumacher’s “blame me” tone here, as he accepts responsibility for the movie’s flaws and offers an apology to disappointed fans. The program doesn’t revel in the misery, but it makes sure we know that no one involved believes Robin is a great – or even decent – effort.
“Shadows” looks at the negatives well as it digs into the concerns. It acts as a pretty good overall take on the production.
Under the banner of Profile Galleries, we get two collections. “The Heroes” looks at “Batman”, “Robin” and “Batgirl”; it goes for nine minutes, 22 seconds. “The Villains” examines “Mr. Freeze”, “Poison Ivy” and “Bane”; it takes up eight minutes, 10 seconds.
In these quick features, we get notes from Schumacher, Uslan, MacGregor-Scott, Clooney, O’Donnell, Silverstone, Schwarzenegger, Thurman, filmmaker Kevin Smith, DC Comics editor Mike Carlin, Smallville writers/producers Al Gough and Miles Millar, Batman: The Animated Series writer/producer Paul Dini, DC Comics editorial VP Dan DiDio, Batman comics editor/writer Denny O’Neil, and makeup artist Brian Penikas.
These snippets look at the characters in the comics and delve into aspects of their portrayal in the flick. Prior ones offered pretty insightful examinations of those elements, but these tend to be more superficial.
We get lots of comments circa 1997, so there’s no historical perspective on the ill-fated production. Some decent notes emerge, especially in regard to the history of Bane, but these are the weakest “Profile Galleries” of the four discs.
In a “documentary gallery” referred to as Beyond Batman, we find five featurettes. If we “Play All”, they fill a total of 50 minutes, 49 seconds.
They include “Bigger, Bolder, Brighter: The Production Design of Batman & Robin”, “Maximum Overdrive: The Vehicles of Batman & Robin”, “Dressed to Thrill: The Costumes of Batman & Robin”, “Frozen Freaks and Femme Fatales: The Makeup of Batman & Robin”, and “Freeze Frame: The Visual Effects of Batman & Robin”.
These present remarks from Schumacher, O’Donnell, Schwarzenegger, Clooney, Thurman, MacGregor-Scott, Silverstone, Penikas, production designer Barbara Ling, conceptual artist Ron Mendell, vehicle supervisors Charley Zurian and Allen Pike, illustrator Harald Belker, specialty costumer Linda Booher-Clarimboll, Batsuit wrangler Day Murch, costume coordinator Randy Gardell, Batshop painter Michael MacFarlane, makeup designer Jeff Dawn, key makeup artist Ve Neill, costume constructor Dragon Dronet, visual effects supervisors John Dykstra, Andrew Adamson and Eric Durst, and miniature effects supervisor Ian Hunter.
If you read the listing of featurette titles, you’ll infer the subjects discussed, but I’ll go over the contents anyway. “Beyond” investigates the flick’s sets, gadgets and visual design, the vehicles, costumes and makeup, and visual effects such as CG and miniatures.
All the prior “Beyond” collections offered solid information about the various technical areas, and this one follows that same path. The pieces dig into the subjects with detail and depth, as they tell us pretty much everything we’d want to know about the topics. These flesh out the material well.
One Deleted Scene appears. Entitled “Alfred’s Lost Love”, it runs 47 seconds.
This offers a little more of the segment in which Barbara comes to Wayne Manor, and it changes the dynamics as it sets up Peg as Alfred’s former girlfriend, not his sister. I don’t know why they made the change, but it doesn’t do much for the story.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with three music videos. These include clips for “The End is the Beginning of the End” from Smashing Pumpkins, “Look Into My Eyes” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and “Foolish Games” by Jewel.
Of all those acts, I only like the Pumpkins, and “End” is a decent tune. The video is a stylish take on the usual lip-synch/film clip combo, but it doesn’t do much to reinvent the format.
As for the others, they fail to impress. “Eyes” is a tremendously annoying song, and the video never becomes anything other than dull.
The Jewel clip fails to improve on any of these others, though it’s a moderately more listenable song, and at least she’s good-looking.
By the way, note that the package provides a remastered Blu-ray, not the same one from 2010. Also note that prior releases included an R. Kelly video that likely got the boot due to his persona non grata status these days.
I didn’t feel that Batman & Robin was a total loss, but it had many more negatives than positives, and little of it worked well. Without question, it’s the worst of the Batman movies, and it seems destined to retain that status for the foreseeable future. The 4K UHD offers strong picture and audio along with a fairly good collection of supplements. This remains a flawed film but the 4K UHD represents it as well as one could imagine.
Purse strings note: on June 4, 2019, the four Batman films from 1989 to 1997 come out as individual 4K UHD releases, each with the list price of $41.99. On September 17, 2019, Warner will put out a box with all four, and it lists for $99.99. If you want all four, it makes sense to wait a few months and potentially save
To rate this film visit the Special Edition review of BATMAN AND ROBIN