Batman Begins (2005) - Two-Disc Deluxe Edition

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama
Warner Brothers || PG13 - 141 minutes - $30.97 || October 18, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-10-20


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer(s): Bob Kane (characters), Christopher Nolan (screenplay) and David S. Goyer (screenplay)
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer


Theatrical Release Date: June 16, 2005


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • MTV's Tankman Begins
  • Theatrical Trailer


  • Disc 2:
  • Batman - The Journey Begins
  • Shaping Mind and Body
  • Gotham City Rises
  • Cape and Cowl
  • Batman - The Tumbler
  • Path to Discovery
  • Saving Gotham City
  • Genesis of the Bat
  • Confidential Files
  • Art Gallery


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

I think I've made my opinion clear before, I am a Batman fanboy... plain and simple. I am not as big of one as some, but for the first time in my life, I went to see Batman Begins four times in the theaters (previously I had only seen a handful of movies twice in theaters). My experience with each viewing was just as good as before and with this fifth viewing in the comfort of my home, I feel the same way.

There was one difference, though. Earlier that day I watched the original Batman '89 and with seeing both of these franchise starters in a span of a few hours, I can easily say Batman Begins is my favorite Bat-film of all-time. While many fans should thank the likes of Tim Burton and Michael Keaton for their contributions, I think the pairing of director Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale was brilliant and, along with an amazing supporting cast -- save for Holmes --, this dynamic duo has given both Bat-fans and non-fans alike a great motion picture.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Warner Brothers released both a widescreen, barebones version and a Two-Disc Deluxe Edition, the latter which can be $10 more. Is it worth it? For fans of DVDs and of Batman himself, absolutely. For the casual fan, I don't really blame them for paying around $15. While I am disappointed director Nolan and co-writer Goyer didn't record a commentary track, the other features, for the most part, make up for it.

Batman - The Journey Begins is a 14-minute featurette/documentary with interviews plus clips from the movie. Normally this would be standard fare for a DVD, but as a fan of the comic book, I took great interest while watching. Here, Nolan, Goyer, Bale and the rest explain their ideas about how to reinvent the franchise and how it all came about in the end (for instance, some of the script was written in Nolan's garage...). Also mentioned was the concern after Bale gained back too much weight after his role in The Machinist needed him to be uber-skinny. Luckily he trimmed down in time for filming. This is definitely a fascinating featurette for any fan, though I do wish that instead of putting the cast overview in this one, they could've put it in a featurette of its own (plus they didn't talk at all about Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson or Ken Watanabe). Minor quibble for sure, so no biggie.

Shaping Mind and Body, running around 13 minutes, extensively covers the Keysi fighting method which the fimmaker's employed as Batman and his foes fighting style. What's really interesting about this style is it has only been around really for 20 years, a short amount of time for something that looks historical (if that makes any sense). The two developers of Keysi worked with the fight coordinator to present something new onscreen never seen before. Star Christian Bale learned the style as well for his fight scenes. This featurette also has fight rehearsal footage between Bale and Neeson, a big plus as you get to see the two working on the moves; first on a matt and next in a hockey ring.

Gotham City Rises is a featurette covering how Gotham City was built. As Nolan put it, he wanted Gotham to be "New York on steroids", and indeed it was. This delves behind-the-scenes showing pre-production artwork, model stages and the real thing in Chicago as well as England (for Wayne Manor). They also show some of the visual effects used in seemlessly merging the model work and a real city. Interestingly, production designer Nathan Crowley started some designwork while Nolan and Goyer were writing the script. In fact, Crowley built a model of the Narrows in Chris' garage.

Cape and Cowl covers, well, the development and making of Batman's costume. This featurette goes through the process of the function of the costume, as well as choosing the type of material to make it. They do some comparison (in talking) about the previous versions and that they wanted Bale to be able to move his head around rather than having to turn his entire body to look side to side. Now, this does go maybe too in depth as it's explained why Bruce in the movie sprays it black and what exactly the parts of the costume are, but it's not a negative. But I digress, they use an "old Victorian housemaid's mangle", and they do show how people had to cut out the eye holes and make it look like it was done by machine (a tedious process I could not handle). This does feature more interviews with Bale as he explains how he got headaches while wearing the costume (though he used that for the character), as well as Oldman talking about how intimidating the costume was. Also covered is the cape and the process of finding a material, which ultimately they created themselves using a parachute type material along with other stuff. This is one of the shorter featurettes at 8-minutes, but still very fun to watch.

For all you car buffs, Batman - The Tumbler is an excellent featurette showing how the car was made essentially from scratch. Chris Nolan, during the scripting process, had an idea for the car. He wanted a cross between a Lamborgini and a Humvee, for which he made a crude mold of what he had in mind. Also featured, including comments from Bale, Nolan and co., is the stunt driver who seemed to be very impressed with the maneuvering capabilities of the vehicle. Comparisons of the car chase to Bullitt, The French Connection and Ronin are well founded and will no doubt be remembered for years to come.

Path to Discovery covers the filming of Ra's Al Ghul and the Leauge of Shadows monestary in Iceland and some of the hardships they encounter (such as the strong, rigidly cold winds, lack of snow, etc). The filmmakers wanted to film these sequences on location rather than on a backlot, furthering the realism aspect. Most interesting, however, was the filming of the training scene between Wayne and Ducard. This part was interesting because the ice they planned filming it on was close to melting so they needed to film this quickly before it was gone (in fact, it was cracking underneath them WHILE filming). I might be overraching here, but this reminded me of some of the Lord of the Rings featurettes...

Saving Gotham City goes through the action sequences (primarily during the climax scene and final duel). I have lots of fun watching these kind of behind-the-scenes footage and comparing it to what was in the final film. It's quite amazing to see what's CGI (consider this a minor spoiler) and what's actually not. Also, it's strange seeing Batman through the lense of a amatuer camera. This featurette also covers the miniature shots and other stunt work used in the final fight sequence.

Genesis of the Bat comes across as one of the more fluff feature, especially for the Bat-fans out there. This is something for those who don't know much about the history of the comic or character. It's a fine crash course in his history and the people who have worked on the comic book, and those who are currently revamping it. Although not the best featurette, I am glad it's there as we do get some more comments from Nolan/Goyer talking about where they wanted to take the story. The duo combed through the comics over the past 30 years and took various elements (such as Frank Miller's (Sin City) "Year One"). There is also coverage on the history of Ra's Al Ghul and how he was created in the comic book.

The confidential files are text coverage of various items and people from the movie. You get descriptions of the utility belt, the Tumbler, films' enemies like Scarecrow, Ra's Al Ghul and Falcone and the heroes (Sgt. Gordon, Rachel, Lucius Fox, Alfred, etc). Not entirely special as it's just a more stylized character bio type of thing.

Finally there's an art gallery featuring various U.S., International and Exploration posters. Normally I'm not interested in this, but some of the posters in the latter category are great and hopefully will be used in some fashion for the sequel. Here's some of my favorites of the bunch: Poster #1, Poster #2, Poster #3.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

I'll start out with some positive comments which concern the picture. Of course, since it is a modern film, the picture looks perfect with the dark colors and atomosphere coming across just fine. It is presented in the glorious widescreen (shame on those who actually enjoy full screen ;) ) which makes the film sharp. My only complaint is with the sound. While the Dolby Digital track is fine, Warner Brothers certainly missed an opportunity for an explosive track by not including a DTS track. Why? The previous four films in the old franchise feature DTS, why not this one? With no commentaries and little else on the first disc, there's more than enough space to fit one.



.::OVERALL::.

The features in all, are great though I wish there was more input from the supporting actors like Michael Caine, Morgran Freeman and Gary Oldman with their thoughts on their roles and on the project as a whole. And the DVD itself is very good and despite not hitting a homerun, it's still worth paying the extra bucks for these features as, unlike some DVDs, they are worth watching more than once.