"The Batman Anthology - 1989 - 1997"
by Zach Demeter "Bird Boy"
Below are links to the individual reviews for the discs inside The Batman
Anthology (1989-1997). In the review space below is an overview of the Anthology
set as a whole.
Batman (1989): Special Edition
Batman Returns (1992): Special Edition
Batman Forever (1995): Special Edition
Batman & Robin (1997): Special Edition
For images of the DVD packaging, disc art and menus, click here.
The Batman Anthology (1989-1997)
Release Date: October 18, 2005
Studio: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Synopsis: Warner Home Video debuts Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997, brand new two-disc Special Editions of the first four Batman movies, and makes them available both individually and as a special edition gift set. The new Two-Disc Special Edition DVDs of Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin feature all-new digital transfers and more than 18 hours of never-seen bonus features, including director commentaries by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, cast and crew interviews, new documentaries, making-of featurettes and nine music videos from Prince, Seal, and the Smashing Pumpkins.
The Batman Anthology (1989-1997) DVD Review
by Zach Demeter
Fans have been waiting for Special Edition releases of the four films from
1989-1997 for years. While the demand
for a two-disc of Batman & Robin
may not have been there as much as for Batman Forever, Burtonís two
Batman films were something fans wanted new DVDs of since the format was
On October 18th, fans will get what they wanted. The Batman Anthology
(1989-1997) box set contains eight discs, spanning the four films. Two discs per
film. We get a commentary on each film, matching special features and a lot of
new information on the makings-of and processes of all the Bat-flicks.
Is the eight-disc set worth it? It really depends on how badly you want each of
the movies. If you're planning on buying only the Burton flicks, I'd recommend
just picking those up. However, if you're planning on buying Batman Forever
as well as the Burton films, it's worth it just to get the box set. You get it
in a nice box set for the same price, plus Batman & Robin. If you're
looking to only buy Batman & Robin...well, those are issues that you should
work out privately.
With the first disc of each set containing the film in their new digital
transfers, complete with Dolby 5.1 and Dolby DTS, the films not only look great
but they sound amazing as well. There's really no other way to watch these
films. With only shoddy DVD releases to sustain us over the years, we finally
get DVDs that treat these films like kings. Since you're buying this set first
and foremost for the films, there's no possible way you can be disappointed in
the visual and audio area.
Packaging for the releases is debatable. I hate the cover art and the disc art
is pretty mundane as well. This is a good example of not judging a book by its
cover, however. While the packaging may look a bit lazily done, the rest of the
DVD is not.
The menus for the first disc of each is a series of movie clips strung together
to play in the background as you make your choices. After playing through the
series of clips, the menu will slowly evolve into a batsignal before starting
over and repeating the clips. Menus past the main option for the film are all
static with no music. Special feature menus contain music over the main menu
only and are all static.
The special features are in-depth and a lot of fun to watch. Including the four
commentaries, you're looking at over sixteen hours of special features split
between the four movies. It's definitely something you'll want to take your time
In addition to all the great special features, we get something on the first Batman
film disc that fans will positively eat up. A featurette called "Legends of the
Dark Knight: The History of Batman" chronicles the beginning of Batman up until
the Batman: Animated Series spin-off. Narrated by Mark Hamill, it
includes interviews with Bob Kane, head honchos at DC Comics, writers and
artists of the Dark Knight throughout the years, Kevin Smith, Mike Mignola, Paul
Dini, Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski, Frank Miller, Alex Ross and many, many others.
It's all great fun to watch and really informative if you need to brush up on
Fans of Batman: The Animated Series (and who isn't) will recognize voices
from the "Batman: The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence" that never made it
into production for Batman (1989). The boards are presented in
fashion with Kevin Conroy playing the role of Batman, Jason Hillhouse voicing
Dick Grayson and who else but Mark Hamill voicing The Joker. Those who
complained that Joker's last appearance in the animated series (Justice
League's "Wild Cards") contained no maniacal laughter will be treated to a
long and loud bit of laughter at the end of this storyboard sequence. Whether an
intentional nod to the fans who may be watching or not, it was great to hear.
"Shadows of the Bat" and "Beyond Batman" are both areas on all four films'
second disc and delves deep into the production of each of the films, from
beginning to end. There is plenty of content to watch, so I don't think anyone
can complain about the set ending too soon.
Perhaps the only complaint I can muster for this Anthology release is the
lack of trailers. As I said in the individual reviews, the trailers aren't all
that necessary, but the many trailers and TV spots are always fun to watch at
least once, especially when they're decades old and contain corny ways of
presenting the film. They aren't crucial to the release so I'm not really all
that upset at the lack of them, but it still would have been nice.
Deleted scenes for the Burton Films would have been nice as well, but I assume
it's up to the director whether or not to include them. We did get a few deleted
scenes in the Batman (1989) featurettes: the "Is it Halloween?" one with
a little girl and Batman and an extended discussion between the press and the
police and DA at the end of the film. No extra scenes are shown for Batman
Returns, but the trading card set released back when the film hit theaters
shows there was footage cut; a shame we won't get to see it.
The lack of the Diet Coke commercial that accompanied the VHS release of
Batman is also disappointing. I assume it's for legal reasons, but I
always enjoyed watching it whenever I got the tape from the library.
Minor qualms aside, the release is awesome. Fans will love how in-depth the DVD
gets, especially for films that
didn't have a whole lot of behind-the-scenes
material shot for it. Archived interviews fill up all the featurettes, as well
as new interviews with Burton, Schumacher, Nicholson, Basinger, Williams,
DeVito, Kilmer, O'Donnel, Gough, Hingle and a few other cast and crew. As I've
said, it's all great fun to watch.
To the undecided fans, I urge you to pick up the box set for this release. In
the end it's really up to you and how many special features you like to watch,
but the deleted scenes for Schumacher's flicks and just the general wealth of
information each disc brings is worth the price alone.
The Batman Anthology (1989-1997) will be in
stores on Tuesday, October 18th, 2005.