New on Blu-ray: Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989 – 1997


The Batman franchise is one of the most successful in comic book-movie history; and it continues to thrive.

The Batman Anthology contains the first four film installments, starring Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney in the title role.

In Batman, the caped crusader (Keaton) faces off against Joker (Jack Nicholson). At the same time, Batman's alter ego Bruce Wayne tries to juggle a relationship with psychiatrist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) while keeping his secret identity under wraps.

In Batman Returns, the dark knight (Keaton) has his hands full dealing with Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). The latter battle is further complicated by an undeniable attraction between the two adversaries.

In Batman Forever, the big bat’s (Kilmer) enemies join forces to put the odds in their favour. Two-face (Tommy Lee Jones) and The Riddler (Jim Carrey) scheme together to uncover Batman's true identity and prepare a surprise attack. Meanwhile, Wayne tries to mentor a young man (Chris O’Donnell) and prevent him from going down the same path of vigilante justice.

In Batman and Robin, the masked crime fighter (Clooney) and his sidekick (O’Connell) take on Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman).

The first two chapters were directed by Tim Burton. His dark sensibility was perfectly suited to the story. The invention of Catwoman in Batman Returns is exceptionally well-done. Under Joel Schumacher’s wing, Batman Forever aimed for a somewhat lighter tone, particularly with the casting of Carrey; and although it wasn't a complete disaster it was not up to par. The fourth flick is by far the worst episode of the series, with the weakest character development and lamest story arcs.

But this neat little package makes even the worst of the films worth owning. Taking the lid off the box reveals four individually packaged Blu-ray discs and each disc contains more than five hours of special features. The bonus elements explore every facet of the film from start to finish with countless interviews with cast, directors and crew as well clips from each film, arranged in character profiles, documentaries, featurettes and director commentaries. Then there are extras like the Prince music videos for Batman Returns, which add another angle to the Batman experience. The high-def presentations of the pictures, particularly the first two that highlight all the varieties of darkness used, are stunning. Finally, a digital copy of Batman is included in the package.

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