Batman Returns – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Batman Returns 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Cover

My earliest cinematic memory involves me visiting my local Pacific Theaters to watch Batman Returns. I loved comics as a young 7-year-old, so this film was a big deal for me. Rewatching it again and the film has lost some of its luster. The storyline is a bit too complex with the film’s three villains. Their stories don’t intertwine well since the filmmakers try to force the villains’ various plots together. At the same time, it seems as if they almost cast Batman aside in order to focus on the villains.

Not to mention, the Penguin and Catwoman are both borderline campy. I mean they adapted the Penguin and Catwoman and gave them an animal motif. In other words, the Penguin acts as a penguin and Catwoman acts like a cat. When you adapt iconic character in this way, you’re pushing it towards a cheesy level that you don’t want to be in. As a matter of fact, it’s really cheesy when you compare it to supervillains nowadays.

Regardless, this is the first superhero film to make its villains relatable and sympathetic. Both Penguin and Catwoman are tortured souls who have such sad backstories. In addition, Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer both put together great performances. That’s not to say that they’re as good as Jack Nicholson’s Joker. But there’s something about their performances that makes audiences care for them. In addition, DeVito and Pfeiffer are still the prime examples for Penguin and Catwoman to this very day—animal behavior be damned.

There’s also a fun quality to the film that can’t be denied. There’s a reason why this was one of my favorite films as a kid. It’s fun and entertaining as a film like this should be. But watching the film again, you begin to realize just how dark this film gets.

Overall, Batman Returns is a nice follow-up to the original 1989 film. It’s not perfect, but it got it where it counts. It’s fun and entertaining and that’s all you could ever ask for when the Penguin makes penguin noises and Catwoman gives herself a bath by licking herself.

Movie Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

Video
Batman Returns - Michael Keaton

Batman Returns hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  As great as the video transfer was for the 4K version of BatmanBatman Returns seem to fix all of Batman‘s tinting issues. The brightness is so incredibly brilliant that the white areas add some depth to the picture. The black levels are a deep obsidian black with zero details lost in the shadows. Since most of the film takes place at night, it was crucial that they got this right. Thankfully, they did.

The colors too are something that just pops from the screen. The vibrancy of the colors showcases the wide color palette that you might not have expected from this cold Christmas film. There’s a lot of small details in this film that the 4K Blu-ray clearly brings out. From the textures in Gotham City to the snow on the street, everything is just so crisp and well-defined. Even the edge details are sharp and well-defined too. It’s amazing how crisp the details are for a film that 27-years-old. Overall, this is an amazing, amazing video transfer.

Video Rating: 5/5 atom.

Audio
Batman Returns - Michelle Pfeiffer

Batman Returns hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect Batman Returns‘s Dolby Atmos track. Unlike the inconsistent Dolby Atmos experience in BatmanBatman Returns makes great use of the Atmos format. The sound effects dynamically pan through the sound stage like a wave or a splash. Not to mention, there are effects that subtly and seamlessly pan through the channels too. There isn’t a lot of overhead effects but they’re quite noticeable when it happens. When things quiet down, you can audibly hear the subtle city noise and crowd noise across the sound stage. The music is layered throughout the sound stage. In addition, the dialogue comes through clearly and the subwoofer adds some weight to the action scenes too. Overall, this is an awesome audio mix.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Special Features
Batman Returns - Danny DeVito

Batman Returns‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has Tim Burton’s audio commentary on it. The regular Blu-ray disc has the following special features on it:

  • The Bat, the Cat and the Penguin
  • Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Pt. 4 – Dark Side of the Knight
  • Batman Returns: The Heroes
    • Batman
    • Alfred
  • Batman Returns: The Villains
    • The Penguin
    • Catwoman
    • Max Shreck
  • Beyond Batman
    • Gotham City Revisited: The Production Design of Batman Returns
    • Sleek, Sexy and Sinister: The Costumes of Batman Returns
    • Making-up the Penguin
    • Assembling the Arctic Army
    • Bats, Mattes and Dark Knights: The Visual Effects of Batman Returns
    • Inside the Elfman Studios: The Music of Batman Returns
  • Music Video “Face to Face” by Siouxsie and the Banshees

The special features on the Blu-ray may have nothing but vintage featurettes but the featurettes are all very informative. You just have to get past the fact that you’re watching these featurettes in a 4:3 format.

“The Bat, the Cat and the Penguin” is a vintage television behind-the-scenes look at Batman Returns. The featurette itself, it does cover a lot of subjects in the 21-minute runtime. Unfortunately, it’s cheesy, as most 90s television featurettes are, so it won’t take very long before this cheesiness can be too much. Once again, “The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight” is an in-depth and informative featurette that covers a lot of the filmmaking and pre-production process. Much like Batman, the featurette is still both intriguing and engaging since it talks about certain subjects truthfully like the backlash against the film and Tim Burton’s exit from the franchise.

Much like in the Batman release, “Heroes” and “Villains” has comic book writers, authors, artists, actors, and comic book experts break down the heroes and villains in Batman Returns. Once again, “Beyond Batman” is another lengthy inside and informative look at every aspect of production. Altogether, the entire string of featurettes is an hour long. So if you’re looking to learn more about a specific aspect of the different stages of production then you might want to do that. Then again, each featurette is intriguing to watch because you do get to learn a lot about the filmmaking process.

Special Features Rating: 4/5 atoms


Overall, Batman Returns is a decent follow-up to Tim Burton’s classic Batman. The characters themselves are iconic and still the prime example of any cinematic adaptations of these characters to this very day. Unfortunately, the film’s storyline leaves much to be desired. Both the video transfer and audio mix are phenomenal. Despite the classic special features, they’re still informative and engaging watches.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1409 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.