Fresh on 4K: ‘BATMAN FOREVER’ – Sharp image slightly mops up this rendition’s bat droppings

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

BATMAN FOREVER (1995)

Rated PG-13, 122 minutes.
Director: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell and Michael Gough

You may recall in my review of BATMAN 4K when I said this franchise gets weird. Well, we’re here. This is the third in a series of four reviews covering the 4K releases of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman films.

Movie Grade: C-

BATMAN FOREVER marks the departure of director Tim Burton from the franchise with the reigns being handed over to Joel Schumacher. After the understandable, yet undeniably hilarious backlash directed at Warner Bros over the divisively dark tone of the previous film, Schumacher seemed like the right choice. He certainly has taken the signature franchise campiness from the first two films to heart with this one. But it feels as though nobody on set had the heart to tell him he had gone too far.

Val Kilmer wears the cowl this time around replacing Michael Keaton from the first two films. Kilmer’s scenes as Bruce Wayne are actually alright. His demeanor is calm and collected, which is a nice juxtaposition to a crime-fighting superhero. However, his rendition of Batman is unfortunately rather bland. Kilmer delivers his lines with the kind of deadpanned tone that would suggest he only took the role because he owed the director a favor. Chris O’Donnell joins the series for the first time as well as Dick Grayson/Robin. O’Donnell’s performance is admirable given the material he has to work with, but ultimately doesn’t quite stick the landing. In the villain’s corner we have Harvey Dent/Two-Face (inexplicably replaced with Tommy Lee Jones rather than the previously established Billy Dee Williams) and Edward Nigma/The Riddler (played by Jim Carrey in the absolute peak of his 1990’s charisma).

Everything about this film is undeniably silly. The visual effects are somewhat dated, and the dialogue is cheesy beyond all repair. However, there is still a fair amount of charm to be found amongst all the mess. Carrey and Jones give memorable, albeit utterly outrageous performances and the Oscar-nominated cinematography is admittedly impressive. It’s just such a shame that this was the follow-up fans were given after such a stellar film came before it.

Courtesy of Blu-ray.com

Video/Audio Grade: A

BATMAN FOREVER follows the pattern of the first two films and is derived from a native 4K digital intermediate. The aforementioned cinematography by Stephen Goldblatt is on full display this time around, and it certainly does not disappoint. Costume textures are very crisp as to be expected by now with the practical makeup used on Two-Face, in particular, is full of twisted detail. The increase in visual clarity does not do the computer-generated wide shots of Gotham City any favors. There were moments when I genuinely thought the film had transitioned to an early VeggieTales VHS. It is seriously rough to look at.

However, the addition of HDR 10 more than makes up for some poorly rendered CGI. For all the flak Schumacher receives for the changes he made from the first two films, at least he brought some color into the mix. Gotham City is loaded with neon pinks and greens at every corner, and the increase color pallet makes this new visual style all the more enjoyable.

The new Dolby Atmos track is top-notch as well. The opening title sequence offers a fun use of space as the names swoop in from one direction and fly off in another. Dialogue is kept crisp in the center tracks while action and music flood the rear speakers with a wonderful sense of immersion. While BATMAN FOREVER may be a pretty lousy movie, this disc is spectacular.

Extras Grade: B

Once more, only the director’s commentary track makes its way onto the 4K disc. All other legacy features can be found on the included 1080p Blu-ray Disc.

All extras are listed below:

  • Audio Commentary: Director Joel Schumacher
  • Riddle Me This? Why is Batman Forever?
  • Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Pt. 5 – Reinventing a Hero
  • Batman Forever: The Heroes
  • Batman Forever: The Villains
  • Beyond Batman
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Music Video: “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal.
  • Theatrical Trailer

Final Grade: B

BATMAN FOREVER may be lacking in quality as a film, but the video and audio quality of this remaster are simply breathtaking. Home theater enthusiasts and diehard fans of the series will find plenty to enjoy, but everyone else might want to consider skipping this one.

BATMAN FOREVER is now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

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