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Batman Begins (Limited Edition Gift Set) | DVD Review

“..the WB doesn’t miss a beat with a “Double Dip” re-release of Batman Begins that amounts to nothing more than a repackaging of the original 2-dics release…”

With the frenzy building up to the release The Dark Knight, and its subsequent obliteration of box office records, the WB doesn’t miss a beat with a “Double Dip” re-release of Batman Begins that amounts to nothing more than a repackaging of the original 2-dics release with a spattering of unnecessary trinkets that are thankfully made of recyclable materials.

Released in 1995, it had taken 10 years for Warner Brothers to allow another director to take a crack at the caped crusader, with Batman Begins. And for good reason. Apart from the excellent and rightfully acclaimed, animated series overseen by Bruce Timm & Paul Dini, the collective audience was left with the painful memories of a one liner spewing Schwarzenegger in the role of Mr. Freeze (“Allow me to break the ice. My name is Freeze. Learn it well. For it’s the chilling sound of your doom.”), and nipples on the Batsuit, in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin.

Chris Nolan’s approach was to make Begins with a grittier, more realistic look and feel, in order to remove as much of the “camp” associated with the character as possible. While he was ultimately successful in bringing back a serious tone to the franchise, the film suffers from a weak and heavy handed script by David Goyer, anemic atmosphere, poor design choices, and an over the top car chase that is fully and completely out of character for the hero.

On the positive side, Nolan’s iteration laid the groundwork for a sequel that, while still flawed in many ways (the poor design from Begins just got worse), informed studios that films based on comic books are not just for selling toys and happy meals, and that if you treat the source material with more respect you can not only create a bankable product, but a cultural event.

Gift set extras:
The main selling points of the set are a 128mb USB key, a 2min sneak peak at The Dark Knight and a $7 gift certificate to go see it at the theater (admittedly this does garner a little forgiveness for the double dip. Also included are 5 Batman Begins postcards sporting some truly horrible examples of poster art that didn’t make the cut as a part of the original campaign, and a 3D-ish lenticular cover.

Regular Special Features:
Disc 1: Has a great transfer of the film, but includes an unfortunate clip from the MTV Movie awards starring Jimmy Fallon, that plays before you get to the main menu.

Disc 2: The meat of Disc 2 is a detailed making-of that splits up the various aspects of the film and production including casting, stunts, story, design, and effects into separate chapters. The follow through on this doc is fairly paint-by-numbers, but the content is terrific and really elevates it. The highlights are “Batman-The Tumbler”. This tells the story of the conception and design of the new Batmobile and includes some great footage of the car being tested at various stages of construction. As far as the character goes it really doesn’t make sense for Batman to be driving a havoc wreaking tank around Gotham, especially given how much emphasis the film puts on stealth. But there is no denying what an impressive piece of machinery it is.

“Saving Gotham” is a love letter to the almost lost art of using practical effects and models in filmmaking. Rather than rely on CGI and Blue Screens, Christopher Nolan’s philosophy in making this film was to do as much as possible on-set and in camera and the results create seamless transitions from the big action pieces to the miniature recreations that achieve a realism that even the best producers of CG haven’t come close to touching.

Also on this disc are text descriptions of each character, experimental promotional artwork, and a really weak, semi-interactive comic. Also of note is the really poorly designed menu navigation.

All in all, nothing worth picking up the film on DVD for a second time if you already own it.

Movie rating – 2.5

Disc Rating – 3

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