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Batman & Robin
Commentary by director Joel Schumacher on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin
On the Set with Bob Kane
Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman The Batman comic book saga as reinvented and reinterpreted over nearly seven decades
The Bat, the Cat and the Penguin Cast and crew members recall the making of the equally spectacular sequel
Riddle Me This: Why is Batman Forever? How a new director and cast created a new version of Gotham’s classic good and bad guys
Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Parts 1-6: The Road to Gotham City, The Gathering Storm, The Legend Reborn, The Dark Side of the Knight, Reinventing a Hero, Batman Unbound
Beyond Batman Documentary Gallery:
Visualizing Gotham: The Production Design of Batman
Building the Batmobile
Those Wonderful Toys: The Props and Gadgets of Batman
Designing the Batsuit
From Jack to the Joker
Nocturnal Overtures: The Music of 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 Nights: The Visual Effects of Batman
Out of the Shadows: The Production Design of Batman Forever
The Many Faces of Gotham City
Knight Moves: The Stunts of Batman Forever
Imaging Forever: The Visual Effects of Batman Forever
Scoring Forever: The Music of Batman Forever
Kiss from a Rose Music Video by Seal
The Heroes and The Villains Profile Galleries
Bigger, Bolder, Brighter: The Production Design of Batman & Robin
Maximum Overdrive: The Vehicles of Batman & Robin
Dressed to Thrill: The Costumes of Batman & Robin
Frozen Freaks and Femme Fatales: The Makeup of Batman & Robin
Freeze Frame: The Visual Effects of Batman & Robin
Music Videos:Batdance, Partyman, and Scandalous by Prince, Face to Face by Siouxsie and the Banshees, The End is the Beginning is the End by the Smashing Pumpkins, Foolish Games by Jewel, Gotham City by R. Kelly, Look into My Eyes by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Batman: The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence
The Heroes and The Villains Profile Galleries
New digital transfers with Both 5.1 Dolby and DTS Surround
“Batman Two-Disc Special Edition – Batman (Michael Keaton) vs. The Joker (Jack Nicholson) in the amazing first extravaganza! With Kim Basinger. Directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as Batman, the first film captures Gotham City’s sinister atmosphere and Batman’s brooding nature. Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger also star. Featuring songs by Prince and a Danny Elfman score, Batman won the 1990 Oscar® for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration.
Batman Returns Two-Disc Special Edition – The Bat (Michael Keaton), the Cat (Michelle Pfeiffer), the Penguin (Danny DeVito). And Christopher Walken, too! Batman faces The Penguin in the second installment of the Batman series directed by Tim Burton. Michael Keaton reprises his role as Batman, with Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as the mysterious Catwoman.
Batman Forever Two-Disc Special Edition – Riddle me this: The Dark Knight (Val Kilmer) bat-battles Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (Jim Carrey). With Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell. Directed by Joel Schumacher, co-produced by Tim Burton, and featuring the first appearance of Robin (Chris O’Donnell), Batman Forever pits the Dark Knight (Val Kilmer) against Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and The Riddler (Jim Carrey). Nicole Kidman stars as Dr. Chase Meridian.
Batman & Robin Two-Disc Special Edition – Will Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) put the world on ice? George Clooney wears the hero’s cape. Also with Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone. Assisted by Robin (Chris O’Donnell) and Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), Batman (George Clooney) battles Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman). Joel Schumacher directs from a screenplay by Oscar ® winner Akiva Goldsman (Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind).”
All of the Batman films are rated PG-13.
Batman: This is easily the best Batman film in this set and you could make a good argument that it is one of the best comic book movies ever made. It totally reinvented Batman for Hollywood and made everyone briefly forget the campy Batman TV series from the 60’s. Michael Keaton was an initially controversial choice for Bruce Wayne but he ultimately proved to be a good choice for the role. Even better was Jack Nicholson as The Joker. While many complained that the movie focused more on him than the hero, Nicholson made the most of every minute he was on the screen. He had some classic lines in the film, too. Throw in a stunning score by Danny Elfman, a great supporting cast, cool special effects, and awesome action sequences and this ends up being a movie that general audiences and comic fans alike can love.
Batman Returns: Tim Burton made an effort to shake things up with Batman Returns and he was partially successful. We got the definitive Catwoman with Michelle Pfeiffer. We got more great set designs and gadgets. We got a great romance between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Unfortunately, Burton also led the film into the realm of the weird with a bizarre and disgusting Penguin character played by Danny DeVito. The weirdness culminates as a group of emperor penguins take the body of The Penguin for a burial at sea (of sorts). It ends up being a bit of a mixed bag that audiences weren’t necessarily ready for and it started the series back on the path to the realm of camp.
Batman Forever: The Batman series got a new helmer in Joel Schumacher and it proved to be a blessing and a curse. We got a great cast including Nicole Kidman, Val Kilmer, Chris O’Donnell, Tommy Lee Jones, and Jim Carrey. We also got a great song featuring Seal singing Kiss From a Rose. Unfortunately, the series started a full running leap back into the TV series camp with this film. Jim Carrey was way over the top as the Riddler. Tommy Lee Jones was totally wasted as Two-Face, one of the more psychologically intriguing Batman villains. Plus the entire set design lost any sense of realism it once seemed to have. And need I say two words “Bat Nipples”? Still, the film did have a few bright points and despite all initial indicators, it didn’t seem like the franchise was headed towards disaster at the time. But the Titanic had a smooth ride at first, too.
Batman & Robin: This was the film that put the final nail in the coffin for the Batman franchise until it was resurrected by Batman Begins. Again, the casting was good. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a seemingly good choice for Mr. Freeze. Uma Thurman was a potentially great Poison Ivy. George Clooney was a good choice for Bruce Wayne. Unfortunately, everything else went wrong in this film. The story was absolutely terrible and it attempted to juggle too many character at once. The set designs and entire look of the film was campy. (I don’t need to point out that it looked more like Starlight Express at one point as bad guys skated around a set.) Thurman ended up being over he top and Arnold didn’t fare any better as he yelled, “Kill da heroes!!!” At one point Bane plants a few bombs around a location and helpfully says, “Bomb. Bomb. Bomb.” Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, too. Batman & Robin made a lot of money, but it was a lesson on what NOT to do in a comic book film a lesson that was well heeded by Batman Begins and every comic movie since. This movie also ended up being one of the only films that I almost walked out on because it was so bad.
So this may lead you to one question why buy the good movies along with the crappy ones? Why not just buy Batman by itself? Well, for me there were a couple of reasons. First of all, I have young children who are Batman fans and they’ve never seen Batman & Robin. If they don’t get a kick out of it, they may want to watch it just to say they have. The other reason I bought it was for the sake of completeness. I now have the full Batman series in one set, so it’s convenient. Finally, there are the first rate bonus features that I really wanted. They alone make this worth picking up. Read on.
Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman This documentary, narrated by Mark Hamill, discusses the full comic book history of Batman. It starts with his early origins and goes all the way up to his recent incarnations. And as you might expect, there’s a lot of talk about The Dark Knight comics by Frank Miller. Appearing along with him in this documentary are creator Bob Kane, Alex Ross, Marvel creator Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, and a ton of other comic artists and writers. It’s a fantastic documentary for comic fans.
Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Parts 1-6: – This documentary is the centerpiece of the Batman Anthology and it is absolutely amazing. It documents the making of the films from the early 70’s all the way through Batman & Robin. There are new interviews with Tim Burton, Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Billy Dee Williams, Kim Basinger, Joel Schumacher, Val Kilmer, and more. Jack Nicholson is particularly fun to hear talk as he was, and is, so enthusiastic about the film (with good reason since he made a percentage of the film profits and making him insanely rich). There are also vintage interviews with Michelle Pfeiffer, George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey, and others. In the end every major (and many of the minor) characters are interviewed. There’s lots of behind the scenes footage, very candid discussion about the trials and tribulations of making the movie, and more. They even interview Sean Young about her crazy stunts to try and get back in the Batman movies after losing the role of Vicki Vale due to a horse riding injury. All in all, this is one of the best “making of” features ever put on DVD.
Beyond Batman Documentary Gallery There are a series of short featurettes included along with each Batman film. They get into the costumes, the special effects, the music, production design, props, the Batmobile, and more. You see how Nicholson was turned into the Joker, how Pfeiffer got into the Catwoman suit, how Danny Elfman scored the first two movies, and other cool stuff. This elaborates on everything not covered in the main documentary.
Music Videos Many people forget that the Batman movies also generated a lot of great music from some very well known artists. Music videos from the songs are included here. They include Batdance, Partyman, and Scandalous by Prince, Face to Face by Siouxsie and the Banshees, The End is the Beginning is the End by the Smashing Pumpkins, Foolish Games by Jewel, Gotham City by R. Kelly, Look into My Eyes by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Kiss from a Rose by Seal.
The Heroes and The Villains Profile Galleries There are actually a number of short featurettes highlighting the heroes and villains from each Batman film. They contain interviews with the actors, behind the scenes footage, production art, and other cool stuff focusing exclusively on individual characters. They cover everyone from Mr. Freeze to Bob The Goon. If you have a favorite character, you’ll enjoy this.
Also on the DVD you’ll find “Batman: The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence”. It turns out that Robin was scheduled to make an appearance in the first Batman movie and this was the set of storyboards used to plot it out. In it Mark Hamill voices The Joker and Kevin Conroy voices Batman. Then there’s a tour of the first Batman set with creator Bob Kane, the vintage TV special “The Bat, the Cat and the Penguin”, another vintage special “Riddle Me This: Why is Batman Forever?”, and some deleted scenes. Also look for Commentary by director Tim Burton on Batman and Batman Returns as well as Commentary by director Joel Schumacher on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. I’m particularly impressed by Joel Schumacher who knows full well that he led the Batman franchise into disaster and he apologizes for it.
The Bottom Line: