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Batman: Soul of the Dragon – Home Media Review

REVIEWS

Superman: Soul of the Dragon
Studio: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 12, 2021 – Digital; January 26, 2021 – 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray

Synopsis: Renowned animation producer Bruce Timm takes the Dark Knight back to the 1970s for a supernatural-laden martial arts extravaganza in Batman: Soul of the Dragon, an unconventional entry in the popular series of the DC Universe Movies. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film was released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting January 12, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on January 26, 2021.

Batman: Soul of the Dragon Special Features
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital

-Batman – Raw Groove – From the explosion of gritty cinema and kung fu to the cultural changes spreading across the U.S., we explore the early ’70s and how they inspired Batman: Soul of the Dragon.
-Producer Jim Krieg’s Far Out Highlights – It’s an off-the-hook and out-of-sight supercut of one of Producer Jim Krieg’s funniest in-character appearances.
-A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie – An advance look at the next animated film in the popular DC Universe Movies collection, Justice Society: World War II.
-Look Back: Superman: Red Son (Featurette) – Kal-El’s rocket fleeing Krypton never reaches Smallville, but instead lands in the Soviet Union, single-handedly shifting the new world order. This is the epic re-imagining of Superman’s origin story.
-Look Back: Batman: Gotham By Gaslight (Featurette) – Set against the backdrop of turn of the century Gotham, Batman is involved in a hunt for a criminal who has committed the most heinous acts of murder. This is Batman versus Jack the Ripper!
-From the DC Vault: Batman: The Animated Series, “Day of the Samurai
-From the DC Vault: Batman: The Animated Series, “Night of the Ninja


Editions covered in this review. Additional imagery below.

Batman: Soul of the Dragon 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Review
by James Harvey

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings Batman: Soul of the Dragon to home media, in both physical and digital formats, and it runs the standard gamut for the DC Universe Movie line, but it still has a couple nice surprises. Are you a Jim Krieg fan? Krieg of Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Justice League Action, and a billion other Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics properties? Well, you’re about to be! Surprise!

Looking first at the audio and visual quality, Warner Bros. continues to deliver reliably solid presentations for its DC Universe Movie titles. Banding and compression issues are nearly non-existent when it comes to the film’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc presentation, though are more apparent (though still not tremendously distracting) on Blu-ray. Colors are more vibrant and full, with black and darker colors nice and deep, yet retaining detail. The 4K digital edition also looks remarkably solid, offering a picture quality somewhere between the film’s physical 4K and Blu-ray transfers. For audio, the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix offers great dynamic range and crisp sound. Dialogue is centered and pushed to the front, with atmospheric work nicely spread throughout all channels. Action beats sound suitably epic, dialogue-driven scenes are clear, the movie’s sublime score sounds absolutely stellar and the overall volume is nicely balanced. All in all, it’s a top-notch affair.

When comparing the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release to the Blu-ray and iTunes digital release, it’s no competition – the physical 4K Ultra HD release unquestionably surpasses both in terms of audio and video.

Moving on to the bonus content, included on the Blu-ray packed with the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release, the main featured extra is “Batman: Raw Groove,” which offers up a great dive into the era of the 70s and its influence on Batman: Soul of the Dragon. Ranging from how the decade impacted the animated films’ creators to its impact on Hollywood, politics and entertainment, and the explosion of martial arts, kung-fu and blaxploitation films, the 30-minute featurette is a fascinating watch and easily one of the best recent DC Universe Movie extras. The other main included featurette is “Producer Jim Krieg’s Far Out Highlights,” an 18-minute feature which repurposes the “A First Look a “Batman: Soul of the Dragon” first look and adds roughly six minutes of outtakes from Krieg’s contributions to said extra. And, yes, you better believe the Krieg outtakes are worth a peek, especially that one which caps the featurette.

Continuing, Batman: Soul of the Dragon also includes a roughly eight-minute “A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie” for JSA: World War II. It offers a hefty look at the upcoming movie, and features quick comments from the cast and crew (Jim Krieg actually gets a pretty sizable and neat role in this preview, too), a substantial look at finished animation, along with production art, comic imagery and more. The character designs, similar to those from Superman: Man of Tomorrow, looks so dang nice. Following that, bonus content wraps up with vintage previews for Superman: Red Son and Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (suitable, given the main feature), two HD-Remastered episodes from Batman: The Animated Series – “Day of the Samurai” and “Night of the Ninja” – and trailers for Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, Deathstroke: Knights and Dragons and Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge. A digital copy of the film is included, as well as a regular Blu-ray copy.

For those who pick up the film’s physical release – on either 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray or regular Blu-ray – take a closer look at the imagery at the top of the case’s spine. In fact, you might want to pull out your physical copy of Superman: Man of Tomorrow and line them up side-by-side.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has put together a good release for Batman: Soul of the Dragon, its first DC Universe Movie title of 2021. With a roller-coaster ride of animated feature to anchor the release, and the small but still meaty bonus content, it’s well worth picking up, regardless of the format. For viewers looking to watch Batman: Soul of the Dragon in the best possible format, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release is reliably the way to go, but the regular Blu-ray and Digital HD presentations do serve as fine alternatives. With its way-out awesome feature presentation and hearty bonus content to watch on home media, Batman: Soul of the Dragon definitely comes Highly Recommended across all formats!

Please note that while Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided The World’s Finest with a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray copy of Batman: Soul of the Dragon to review, that had no bearing on the product’s final assessment. The author also purchased a copy of the film on iTunes for completion and comparison purposes.

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