It’s taken, in the context of the high definition format battle, an extraordinarily long time for Batman Begins to make its Blu-ray bow. As one of the earlier and most popular titles for the doomed HD DVD format, the flick is damn-near perfect hi-def fodder: a top quality, modern blockbuster with some striking visuals just waiting to gobble up a 1080p screen.
And gobble them up they truly do. For the picture quality is an equal to the previous HD DVD release (unsurprisingly), and that was one of the demo discs we frequently reached for when giving our high definition rig a workout. It can often be a hefty challenge for a film so dark in colour palette to come across well on screen, but with no sign of compression and a vibrant, detailed image quality, Batman Begins Blu-ray absolutely delivers.
As too does the audio mix. The 5.1 TrueHD track that adorned the original HD DVD has been transferred across, and it once again sounds the business. There’s a real range and breadth in the soundstage, and it’s the multitude of subtle touches that really impress. Again, this is reference quality work, that delivers heavily on the ‘blockbuster’ moments too, just to keep your neighbours on their toes.
The extra features package, sadly, continues the whole porting over theme, though, with just one new addition. This is a real missed opportunity: given the wait that we’ve had to endure for a Blu-ray release of the film, there was at least a chance to add some new supplemental materials to help justify it, but the delayed release is clearly a marketing decision, to tie in to Dark Knight furore. As it stands, it’s The Dark Knight that’s the only new addition to the extras roster, with the opening scene from the film displayed in top quality HD. To say it’ll whet your appetite, as Sarah revealed here when she saw it on an IMAX screen, would be no understatement.
The remaining features (which are all in SD, sadly), then, still lack an audio commentary, so instead we have a collection of featurettes that don’t do a bad job of digging into the film’s production. There’s over an hour and a half of material here, but mostly with a distinctive press kit flavour. That said, the featurette digging into the production design was interesting, as is the one where Bale gets into the role of the Bat. You also get the picture in picture feature from the HD DVD too, where at various points throughout the film, up pop talking heads to chunter through what’s going on, with the aid of some behind the scenes material.
You won’t learn an awful lot new now trawling through all of these, but if you’re in a relaxed enough mood, it’s not a bad collection. It’s just that this is the kind of film you’d thirst for a bit more insight into. There’s not even a deleted scene in sight.
Which just leaves the film. We’ve talked a fair bit about Batman Begins at Den Of Geek throughout our relatively short life, and it’s still, for this reviewer certainly, an immense piece of blockbuster and superhero cinema. A success on many, many levels, not least consigning memories of Joel Schumacher’s era in Gotham City to the recycle bin, it only really stumbles a little in the last twenty minutes, when the necessary action elements kick in. Even then, with little CGI in sight, it’s refreshing to see so much action from the lens of the camera. You can read more on the film here, where we make it the inaugural inductee into our Hall Of Fame.
As for this Blu-ray, though, it’s a strong release, as was the HD DVD before it. Bundled with a few postcards to sweeten the deal, it’s still not, you suspect, the ultimate edition of the film that should follow in the years ahead, but it’s masterful, confident cinema, and the kind of movie that HD displays were built to screen.