Everyone's favorite masked vigilante is tasked once again to save Gotham City in Tim Burton's Batman Returns, fighting the likes of Danny DeVito's Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman. The sequel fights crime on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a gorgeous HDR10 presentation that notably improves on its Blu-ray counterpart and a satisfying Dolby Atmos soundtrack, but the same supplements as before. Overall, the UHD package is a Recommended addition to the 4K library and the best home video edition fans will want to own.
For this Dark Knight fan, Tim Burton's Batman Returns is arguably the best of the original franchise series, that rare sequel that surpasses its predecessor. Like Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, the plot, which gives equal weight and poignancy to its villains as it does its titular hero, is tighter and grittier — think darker with a tad of the morbid. The motivations of characters, namely Penguin (Danny DeVito), Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), are more complex, spurred by delightfully dark and twisted impulses. In this follow-up, Burton also embraces the story's comic-book origins by indulging in a more colorful and animated palette while perfectly balancing it with the filmmaker's signature bleakly grim style. Breaking from conventional comics history, this script gives Penguin and Catwoman new origins stories that add a disturbing psychological element, and like Penguin's gang of circus freakshow performers, we just can't look away from the freakishly bonkers mayhem.
For a more in-depth take on Tim Burton's Batman Returns, check out our original Blu-ray review HERE written by Peter Bracke.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Warner Home Video brings Tim Burton's Batman Returns to Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for a Digital Copy. When redeeming said code via WB.com and Movies Anywhere, it includes the SD, HDX (1080p) and 4K UHD with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos on various streaming platforms. The triple-layered UHD100 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc, and both are housed inside a black, eco-cutout case with a shiny, glossy slipcover. At startup, viewers are taken to a generic static screen with the usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background.
The Caped Crusader returns to fight a pair of psychologically disturbed villains, equipped with a fantastically beautiful and often impressive HEVC H.265 encode.
Coming from a new 4K restoration and scan of the original 35mm camera negatives, the 2160p transfer delivers a remarkable step up over the Blu-ray, almost immediately showing a notable improvement in Stefan Czapsky's cinematography, which is more colorful than the first movie. Seeing as how the plot takes place during the holidays, reds all around Gotham are more pronounced, bathing various scenes in flamboyant candy rose, coming from either Christmas lights or the circus feel of Penguin's gang, and blood is noticeably a deeper, fuller crimson. At the same time, blues are electrifying and energetic while greens range from lively emeralds to glossy shamrocks. Best of all are the vividly boosted secondary hues, showing more variation in the subtle purples and magentas along with the fiery oranges of explosions.
Thanks to the new remaster, the 27-year-old movie also enjoys a fresh and welcomed face-lift, flaunting better definition and clarity than its HD predecessor. Close-ups of the entire cast are highly-revealing with lifelike features throughout, exposing every pore, tiny wrinkle, and the most negligible blemish. On the other hand, this can also sometimes be somewhat distracting, as the makeup work and prosthetics, like Penguin's pointed nose, are now easier to point out than ever before. Notwithstanding, the fine lines in the buildings, vehicles and the overall stage production are distinct, and the various objects decorating the background are plainly visible. The stitching in the costumes are razor-sharp, and the texture of Batman's foam rubber suit is pretty striking at times. Of course, there are the expected moments of poor resolution sprinkled throughout, but on the whole, the picture is detailed and sharper than previous home releases.
In the end, the best aspect of this 4K HDR10 presentation is the enhanced brightness levels. Granted, the Blu-ray already came with some dramatic, accurately-rendered blacks, but on UHD, they appear significantly richer and silkier, showing decided differences between the many costumes and the various shades of gray throughout Gotham City. Inky, velvety shadows penetrate deep into the screen without engulfing the finer details, providing the 1.85:1 image with a gorgeous cinematic quality and appreciable dimensionality. Contrast levels also benefit from the jump to HDR territory by exhibiting markedly brighter and crisper whites. Outstanding specular highlights are tight but nonetheless resplendent, revealing a bit more around the hottest spots while also providing a narrower, dazzling reflective glow off wet surfaces, metallic objects and especially off Catwoman's shiny latex outfit.
All in all, the fantasy comic-book sequel has never looked better on any edition and is absolutely the definitive version to enjoy at home. (HDR10 Video Rating: 88/100)
The streets of Gotham are kept safe with an awesome, terrifically-amusing Dolby Atmos soundtrack that provides some welcomed enhancements over its Dolby TrueHD counterpart. Admittedly, the differences and improvements are a bit more nuanced and subtle, but listeners nonetheless are sure to note a better and slightly more spirited rear activity. Being the first Dolby Digital track to hit cinemas, the design comes with plenty of atmospherics in the sides to envelop viewers during action sequences, and some of those effects occasionally pan into the overheads with impressive competence. The surrounds are not continuously active enough to truly create a convincing hemispheric soundfield, but it's sufficient for expanding and periodically immersing the listener.
The real win in this object-based version comes by way of a more spacious, broader soundstage, energized by lots of background activity smoothly traveling between all three channels and into the off-screen space. With the top heights also employed from time to time, imaging endlessly feels wide and expansive, exhibiting excellent detailing and clarity in the mid-range, which greatly benefits Elfman's score and song selections, displaying strong definition and warmth. Dialogue reproduction, meanwhile, is precise and very well-prioritized, maintaining a highly-engaging and enjoyable soundscape. The low-end isn't the sort to disturb the neighbors, but bass complements the visuals and adequate enough to deliver some weight and oomph to the various explosions. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 84/100)
The same set of special features from the Anthology box set have been ported over and only available on the accompanying Blu-ray disc.
Tim Burton and Michael Keaton return for another dark crime-fighting adventure in Batman Returns, setting up everyone's favorite masked vigilante against his greatest challenge yet. Also starring Danny DeVito as Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, the sequel introduces another pair of iconic supervillains as complicated and psychologically disturbed yet delightfully entertaining freakshows, making it better than its predecessor.
The Caped Crusader swings into action on Ultra HD Blu-ray with a brand-new 4K restoration and remaster, boasting a gorgeous HDR10 presentation that notably improves on its Blu-ray counterpart and a satisfying Dolby Atmos soundtrack, making this home video edition the definitive version of this superhero follow-up. Although porting over the same supplements as before, the overall UHD package is a recommended addition to the 4K library.