Batman Begins

DVD Rating: ****1/2

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Batman Begins

Batman Begins is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, in a near-faultless digital transfer from an immaculate source print. Incredible shadow rendering and wonderful contrast from the transfer and telecine colourist reflect the dark and beautifully lit photography superbly, rock solid transfer work. Detail is very high; hair, fabrics and textures are reproduced without any mosquito noise, or MPEG blocking. No hair, dust, or any film anomalies are present. A marvellous, film-like presentation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is of reference quality. The soundstage is as well used as I've ever heard, with very wide and open use of the discrete surround set up, with excellent spot effects and atmospheric work. A marvellous aural presentation - music is delivered with authority, the strings and brass crisply presented. Dialogue is recorded well. And bass, drums and very low strings, as well as sound effects, are strong, sharp and very deep. An exceptionally capable home audio set up will be needed to feel the full sonic impact of this track.

Copy picture

The extras on disc 2 are divided up into small documentaries totalling approximately 100 minutes, each of them categorising a different aspect of the Making Of story. They comprise of B-Roll footage, face interviews, script pages and CG graphics. Sadly, there is no Play All button, unlike Spider-Man 2's DVD documentary.

Batman - The Journey Begins explains how director Christopher Nolan became involved, story development with David S Goyer, initial art and model concepts and design in Nolan's garage. It also briefly covers casting and Christian Bale's approach to the Batman mythos. Nolan notes that he was the first actor he met who could convince you that he's dedicated his life to something beyond himself and, as such, was offered the role there and then.

Shaping Mind And Body: this discusses Bale's physical transformation from the skeletally thin frame he had in The Machinist to large and overweight, through eating and heavy weight exercise, causing the stunt team to dub him "Fatman!" and eventually to a lean, powerful Batman by the time of shooting. It also covers the close combat style of fast martial arts, used for the first time on film. Nolan also notes the quick and animalistic editing he employed, giving the immediacy and swiftness of his vision.

Gotham City Rises: back to Nolan's garage, with production designer Nathan Crowley discussing the challenges needed to make Gotham City a believable place, using extraordinarily large sets (built inside an aircraft hangar) and invisible digital effects.

Cape And Cowl: costume design and the difficulties and ideas that go through it, from a full body cast of Bale to all the rough hewn utilities. And as much black latex and specially designed fabric as possible, of course!

The Tumbler: now this is what it's all about! A very big, custom made machine, the new Batmobile, from a Play-Doh rendering by Nolan all the way up to a two-ton car which never, ever broke down and did speeds exceeding 100 miles an hour, climaxing in a stunning chase through Chicago and the aircraft hangar standing in for Gotham and the Batcave. "I've got to get me one of those!"

Path To Discovery: there's one location that's a "pain in the ass for each movie" and Batman Begins has Iceland to thank for this. The opening section of the film and the sheet ice duel between Bruce Wayne and Ducard is covered here.

Saving Gotham City: an exceptional deconstruction of the monorail finale, from greenscreen, through cinematography and lighting challenges to 1/6 scale miniatures and full size effects work and superlative CG effects.

Genesis Of The Bat: comicbook geeks discuss the history and story machinations of Batman from the Thirties to the present day. Examples include Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. Alan Moore's work is strangely absent, as are the previous Batman movies. Perhaps that ghost is truly put to rest?

Confidential Files: a disposable text-only feature, describing the characters and the Bat tools - only for those who want to bluff about having seen the movie.

The trailer is also included.

There's also a stills gallery of design ideas developed to market the movie and a comicbook style menu opening, which I found interesting. Good idea, but the execution isn't great.

This is one of the year's best films, given a package to suit. Go buy... Now!

Reviewed on: 27 Oct 2005
Share this with others on...
Batman Begins packshot
The evolution of mixed up rich kid Bruce Wayne into the Dark Knight of Gotham City.
Amazon link

Product Code: D072959

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.40:1 widescreen (enhanced for 16:9 televisions)

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Batman: The Journey Begins - Creative Concepts, Story Development and Casting; Shaping Mind and Body: Fighting Style; Gotham City Rises: Production Design; Cape and Cowl: The New Batsuit; Batman – The Tumbler: The New Batmobile; Path to Discovery: Filming in Iceland; Saving Gotham City: The Monorail Chase Sequence; Genesis of the Bat: Batman Incarnations from the Mid-1980s to the present; Confidential Files Character/Weaponry Gallery; Stills Gallery of Design Ideas Developed to Market the Movie; DVD-Rom Weblink.

Search database: