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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Croatian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Actors Adam West and Burt Ward
  • 2 Featurette - Batman Featurette, Batmobile Revealed
  • 2 Photo gallery
  • Animated menus

Batman the Movie (1966)

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 101 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Holy caped crusader criminal conundrums! The Dynamic Duo hit the big screen in this movie which followed on from the first series of the television show. Originally planned to precede the TV series, it ended up being made after a wave of first season success, but served overseas audiences well as an introduction to the fabulously campy and absurd world of Gotham City, its super hero Batman (Adam West), his young offsider Robin (Burt Ward) and the fiendish phalanx of fanciful felons they’re faced with foiling on alarmingly regular occasions.

And when you have the big screen, and a bigger budget, to play with, why not up the stakes a bit? Our masked heroes aren’t simply faced with one nefarious ne’er-do-well here, as four of Gotham’s most mischievious mayhem-makers team up as a united underworld. There’s the cigarette holder chomping Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the maniacally grinning Joker (Cesar Romero), the conundrum coining Riddler (Frank Gorshon) and she who seemed to be every little boy’s fantasy, the fabulously feminine feline-like Catwoman (played here by Lee Meriwether, as the first TV Catwoman, Julie Newmar, was busy making a film at the time).

"Penguin, Joker, Riddler and Catwoman too? Some of the angles of that rectangle is (sic) too monstrous to contemplate..."

After a (hilarious) run-in with a rather rubbery exploding shark, our courageous warriors against crime are faced with a missing yacht, its missing Commodore Schmidlapp and its missing cargo – a device which totally dehydrates whatever it happens to be pointed at. Aim it at a human and they turn to a pile of dust – just add water and they reappear. Now, this just could be a handy little doohickie in the hands of a quartet intent on seeking that inevitable old chestnut of world domination now, couldn’t it? Especially if they are able to infiltrate the United World Security Council in New York. But first, the annihilation of a certain bat-like man is on the agenda and so the plot is hatched, kidnap millionaire Bruce Wayne with the help of Catwoman’s seductive ways and subsequently lead Batman to the rescue... hmm, now we all know what’s amiss with this plan, don’t we?

Armed with all manner of devilishly clever toys, all labelled clearly in a Letraset frenzy and with the prerequisite ‘Bat’ prefix – from the big and mobile like the Batmobile, Batcopter and Batboat to the more portable such as the Batrope, Batladder and a personal fave, the Batarang – the Dynamic Duo will surely save the world yet again from falling into the hands/claws of their nemeses, won’t they? After all, as well as being armed with all of those delightful toys they do have those super secret weapons up their tights-legs – more ‘POW!’s, ‘WHAP!’s, ‘THWACK!’s, ‘BIFF!’s, ‘ZWAP!’s and even ‘BAP!’s than you could poke a freaking out spell checker at...

  Video
Contract

A mid-sixties low-ish budget film on DVD, visually it’s going to look dodgier than one of The Riddler’s riddles, yes? Well, holy wrong answers, Batman – as this sure as heck looks almost miraculously fabulous! Presented in its cinematic ratio of 1.85:1 and anamorphically enhanced, it would appear that all stops were pulled out to make this look as exciting and vibrant as possible.

A big part of Batman’s appeal was the cartoon-like colour palette, featuring any hue you could name in the most vivacious shade possible. All of these come up wonderfully here without going too far, in what is a devilishly detailed presentation that illicits excitement from every single Bat-angle. Blacks are perfectly black, shadow detail is quite startling for a film this old and the only grain present is within some stock footage of Polaris missiles that pops up occasionally. The only real let downs are the black and white specks that appear at odd times, but really in the big scheme of things they aren’t much bother at all.

The layer change occurs quite early on in the film, and it’s so well placed that I completely missed it the first time around, and only really noticed it due to a brief gap in the commentary track. All things considered this is a near purr-fect visual transfer.

  Audio
Contract

After such brilliant treatment of the video, you would be forgiven for thinking that the audio must also hold a treat in store. Unfortunately it’s a case of holy almost, Batman however, as all we get is the original mono track shunted into Dolby Digital stereo format. Still, it is basically how the film was made, and its job is done well in so far as most all of the dialogue is perfectly clear. There are some instances of hiss to be heard on occasions, and things can also have a tendency to be a little screechy at times, however the best way to sum it up is that this is probably the best the film has ever been heard.

Musically, Neil Hefti’s immortal na-na-na-na na-na-na-na Batman theme is present on a number of occasions, interspersed amongst fabulously funky and infectious ‘60s beat music provided by Nelson Riddle that's sure to get your toes tapping.

  Extras
Contract

The mood for the Batman experience is set beautifully on loading up the disc, with tantalising animated comic strip styled menus accompanied by audio including Robin declaring, “Holy interactive menus, Batman!”. A quick detour to the ‘Bat features’ menu offers up quite a decent array of bits and pieces to devour...

Commentary – actors Adam West and Burt Ward: Holy yay-ness, Batman – what more could a Bat-fan ask for? Well, while this commentary recorded in 2001 does have its fun moments, and the two certainly still share a rapport, but it does tend to be remarkably gappy as they get lost in watching the film. Regardless of this criticism, there’s still much to delight in, and things do have a tendency to get just a little bit Benny Hill at times for those who like such things.

Featurette - Batman Featurette: This unimaginatively named piece was made in 2001 especially for this DVD release, and is dominated by interview snippets featuring Adam West and Burt Ward. At just over 16 minutes it covers many of their remembrances from the film shoot and also the series, although it does cover a lot of ground dealt with in the commentary.

Featurette - Batmobile Revealed: At five minutes and 34 seconds this is too short, especially as it is so rushed. The creator of possibly the greatest car to ever appear on TV or in movies, George Barris, speaks at 110 miles an hour about his creation and leaves us begging for more. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Herbie the Love Bug - pah! Pretenders!

Photo gallery – From the Vaults of Adam West: 68 shots in all, mostly black and white, culled from the best Batman’s personal collection of stills, promotional shots and on-set snaps.

Photo gallery – Behind the Scenes: 27 in all, mostly in colour, mainly consisting of promotional shots, but with a few intriguing Batmobile related ones added to the mix.

Teaser trailer: Ah, the golden days when teasers were specially made. This too appears to have undergone loving restoration, appearing in anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 and looking almost as sumptuous as the main feature. Batman and Robin talk straight to camera, warning us to brace ourselves for their first full length motion picture feature in colour, complete with little introductions of the film’s four vile villains. One minute and 35 seconds of great fun.

Theatrical trailer: Borrowing heavily from the teaser, this full frame speck-riddled affair shows what we could have been faced with in the transfer department. It runs for just shy of three minutes and looks and sounds rather ewwy.

  Overall  
Contract

Anybody who ever thought that the ‘60s Batman was simply silly and stupid just didn’t get it. Filled with wickedly clever writing, delivered in delightfully deadpan style by the entire cast it may be silly, yes – in fact it revelled in it - but it certainly wasn’t stupid. Any Bat-fan worthy of their wings should rush out and grab this fabulously presented DVD as soon as possible – it’s absolutely Bat-tastic!

And if your store doesn’t have it, then perhaps a few ‘BIFF’s, ‘WHAP!’s and ‘THWACK!’s are in order?


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1522
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      And I quote...
    "Holy sudden super surprises, Batman! Caped crusaders, fiendish phalanxes of fanciful felons, vivaciously vivid vision and extremely exciting extras - gosh, this disc sure as heck has it all!"
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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