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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Rick Morales
Cast:
Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar
Writing Credits:
Michael Jelenic & James Tucker

Synopsis:
Batman and Robin swing into action when the earth is threatened by Gotham City's most malevolent master-criminals: Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman!

MPAA:
Rated PG.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Latin Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Latin Spanish
French

Runtime: 78 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 11/1/2016

Bonus:
• “Those Dastardly Desperados” Featurette
• “A Classic Cadre of Voices” Featurette
• Two Sneak Peeks
• Trailers
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 10, 2016)

At least since 1989’s Tim Burton/Michael Keaton film brought a darker vision of the character to movie screens, it seems like DC Comics has worked hard to distance Batman from the campy 1960s TV series. Sure, some versions of the character went for a lighter touch – such as the Brave and the Bold animated series – but usually Batman stayed with the grim, somber tone of the Dark Knight Trilogy.

With 2016’s animated Return of the Caped Crusaders, though, we get a new take on the 1960s TV show – replete with some of the original actors. In their desire to defeat Batman (voiced by Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward), four supervillains unite.

Catwoman (Julie Newmar), Joker (Jeff Bergman), Penguin (William Salyers) and Riddler (Wally Wingert) come together to deal with Batman once and for all. This leads to a mix of battles and crazy shenanigans, including a “bad Batman” and multiple clones of the Caped Crusader.

Without a doubt, the producers of the 1960s show knew they were making a campy, silly series. However, Batman played things so straight that it left open wiggle room: was it meant to be a goof or was it just unintentionally ridiculous? The manner in which the series maintained its absurdly self-serious tone offered much of its quirky charm.

No such ambiguity exists with Crusaders, as it plays its camp on the nose. Many parts of the program go for a self-referential approach, as the movie mocks the series. For instance, we get a not-so-sly reference to 1960s casting when a discombobulated Batman sees three Catwomen.

And just in case you’re too dense to get the sight gag, Crusaders voices the other two Catwomen in ways reminiscent of Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriweather. Newmar, Kitt and Meriweather each played Catwoman in the 1960s, so this bit offers another unsubtle way to poke fun at the source.

This doesn’t work. Honestly, the decision to set Crusaders in the 1960s makes little logical sense other than to allow it to act as a firm extension of the series – which is fine, I guess, but lazy. Why not try a 1960s-style Batman in modern day to add a little spice?

Even if I ignore the unambitious choice to keep things in the 1960s, the humor of Crusaders flops because it’s so obvious and on the nose. The original series winked at the audience with its self-seriousness, but Crusaders goes farther – it winks at an audience that winks at itself, and this self-congratulatory sense of irony gets tiresome and seems ineffective.

It also means that Crusaders often feels like fan fiction. The show pours on obvious irony and snark, elements that seem incongruous in its attempts to channel the original series. The script feels like it came from writers who loved the series but who also wants to make sure we understand that they’re above the material.

Like I said, whether or not one enjoyed the original series, at least it managed a form of purity in its self-seriousness. Of course the producers meant it as high camp, but it managed to avoid the kind of conscious self-mockery seen here.

The lack of subtlety means plenty of nods toward the interpreted homosexuality of our lead heroes, such as their “no-woman zone”. The film even tries to go meta with a mocking reference to the ending of Dark Knight Rises.

Again, all of this feels like those involved try way too hard to impress us with their insight and cleverness. Unfortunately, these attempts seem like little more than juvenile snark and lack real wit.

I understand that the “grim Batman” we’ve seen so often over the last 30 years isn’t for everyone, so I get the appeal that comes from a lighter interpretation of the character. However, we already have that, as Batman: The Brave and the Bold takes this approach.

And Brave does so surprisingly well. I tend to prefer my Batman on the Frank Miller side, so I expected to dislike Brave, but it delivers its humor in such a peppy, disingenuous manner that it works for me.

Which contrasts it with the self-conscious, inane Crusaders. It offers a bad attempt to recapture the spirit of the 1960s TV show, one that fails because it saddles the premise with a modern sense of irony. The two eras don’t mesh and these factors leave Crusaders as a weak effort.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image consistently looked solid.

Sharpness worked well. The movie always came across as tight and well-defined, so don’t expect any signs of softness. Jaggies and moiré effects also remained absent, and the image lacked edge haloes or artifacts. In addition, print flaws were a non-factor and didn’t appear at any point.

In terms of colors, Crusaders went with a fairly bright palette. The tones looked solid, as they showed positive richness and vivacity. Blacks were deep and tight, while shadows showed nice clarity. Across the board, the image worked well.

I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Crusaders opened up the comic book material moderately well but it didn’t dazzle. The forward channels brought out the majority of the material and became the focal point. Music presented strong stereo imaging, while effects cropped up in logical spots and blended well.

The surrounds threw in occasional elements, but they didn’t do a whole lot. Action gave us a smattering of involving components and periodically brought the material to life. However, much of the movie emphasized the forward channels and didn’t create a particularly involving mix.

Audio quality always satisfied. Speech was warm and natural, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded lively and full, while effects displayed good definition. Those elements seemed accurate and dynamic. The soundtrack merited a “B”.

Two featurettes appear here. Those Dastardly Desperados runs 10 minutes, 29 seconds and offers comments from screenwriter Michael Jelenic, writer/producer James Tucker, DC Entertainment Animation Creative Director Mike Carlin, and actors Jeff Bergman, Julie Newmar, William Salyers, Adam West, Wally Wingert, and Burt Ward. The show looks at story/characters, cast and performances, and the film’s tone. This gives us a passable overview with more fluff than substance.

A Classic Cadre of Voices fills 10 minutes, one second with notes from Bergman, Wingert, Salyers, Carlin, Tucker, West, and director Wes Gleason. We hear more about cast/performances as well as Gleason’s approach to the material. Like “Desperados”, “Voices” presents a puffy program without great depth.

We also find two Sneak Peeks. “Batman Vs. Robin” goes for 10 minutes, seven seconds and provides info from Tucker, director Jay Oliva, voice director Andrea Romano, and actors David McCallum, Jeremy Sisto, Robin Atkin Downes, and Jason O’Mara.

“Son of Batman” lasts nine minutes, 28 seconds and features Carlin, Tucker, Romano, co-producer Alan Burnett and director Ethan Spaulding. and actors Stuart Allan and Morena Baccarin. Both shows offer basics about the productions. They exist to sell Blu-rays, so don’t expect much substance.

The disc opens with an ad for Suicide Squad. Trailers adds promos for Wonder Woman, “DC TV brands”, The Lego Batman Movie and Wonder Woman Animated Film. No trailer for Crusaders appears here.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Crusaders. It includes the two sneak peeks but lacks the two featurettes.

As a reworking of the 1960s TV series, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders offers a limp update. The movie seems far too self-conscious, as it boasts the bones of it inspiration but lacks the right tone. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio along with minor supplements. Crusaders just doesn’t work.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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