The Batman was released for home viewing in mid-April on Warners’ streaming service HBO Max and for purchase or rent in digital formats, but as is typical of home media the disc formats have been held back until now. The Blu-ray, 4k Blu-ray, and DVD editions hit stores on May 24th, including exclusive retail versions from Best Buy, Target, and Walmart.
Make no bones about it, The Batman is recommended as a theatrical experience. The sheer cinematic feel of the film is one that demands immersion and distraction-free viewing. But at home, The Batman can be best enjoyed in an approximated theatrical setting, with low lighting, surround sound, and the best visual presentation possible. For now, the best quality offered by studios in disc and digital media is 4k resolution with Dolby Vision or HDR10 High Dynamic Range. Here’s a review of The Batman on 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray.
When we did our review of The Batman on HBO Max we found the video to be grainy, dark, and flat. The flatness of the video was the worst part, resulting in a very grey image in many scenes without any true black levels. Much of the video was also mushy, with grain and color values blending together without any clarity.
The 4k Blu-ray presentation of The Batman has redeemed itself in many visual aspects, offering excellent sharpness, color depth (especially when enhanced by Dolby Vision, which can change dynamically in each scene), detail in shadow areas, and richer black levels than in the HBO Max stream. However, the digital presentation (delivered through platforms like Apple TV and Vudu) is comparable to the 4k disc, providing good depth, color (sometimes even more saturated), and deep black levels.
Video on the 4k Blu-ray streams in bitrates ranging from the high 40s and 50s, peaking in the mid-70Mbps range at some points. The image is grainy at points, but like we mentioned before grain is not all that bad if paired with good color depth and contrast. One of the darker (meaning light exposure) scenes in the movie (around 48 minutes) is when Selina is scanning Oz’s “bar within the bar” where high-ranking officials mingle with beautiful women and get high on “drops.” The 4k Blu-ray brings a bit more contrast and clarity to the image, albeit not the best representation of the rest of the movie.
On the flip side, some of the best imagery is when Batman inserts micro imaging chips into Selina’s eyes. Look at the sharpness of the screen photo that even when enlarged shows excellent detail in the circuit board and eyebrows. This clip is easily overlooked in the scene but provides some of the highest quality images in the movie.
Offered in Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound, The Batman features music by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Up) and Kurt Cobain’s “Something in the Way,” both of which set the overall tone for the grungy DC thriller.
The Dolby Atmos format offers some immersive moments that are unforgettable in multi-channel effects. The car chase with Batman and the Penquin has got to be one of the best in the film, and maybe even in Batman movie history. Listen close for the incredible sound design incorporated in this sequence, as well as other scenes in which detailed audio effects enrich the storyline and visuals.
The audio in The Batman streamed at an average of 3Mbps, dipping to around 2Mbps and peaking in the 5Mbps range. It’s a rich audio experience that certainly gets a boost the more speakers added. When compared with 2-channel headphone and 2-channel speaker systems the 5.1 and 7.1 channel experience provides a wider spectrum of sound, enhancing the visuals and dialogue clarity.
There are over two hours of bonus features included on the “Special Features” Blu-ray Disc (a separate disc from the BD that contains the feature film) such as deleted scenes with commentary from director Matt Reeves, the making-of documentary Vengeance in the Making, and feature-length Director’s Commentary with Matt Reeves. The disc purchase includes one extra titled “Unpacking the Icons” that you may not find with a digital purchase, although we discovered Apple TV to offer that extra after redeeming the digital code from the Blu-ray edition.
It’s hard to find anything lacking in the bonus material, although more than just two deleted scenes may have been even thicker icing on the cake. When you think about it though, the 176-minute film was hardly cut down for the theatrical presentation, as if most scenes that may have been deleted were left in. The two deleted scenes can be watched with director commentary though, making them even more intriguing for the avid Batman fan and film enthusiast.
The Batman is best experienced in theaters, but at home, the 4k Blu-ray Disc (or Digital 4k presentation) is the best way to experience a film that is dark, moody, and long. Dim the lights, get comfortable and crank up the audio (or immerse yourself with headphones) to really enjoy this crime thriller that we can best liken to a combination of Seven, Joker, and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The 3-disc 4k Blu-ray combo edition from Warner Bros. has no shortage of content and is well worth the price considering the three viewing formats, bonus material, and packaging included are roughly the same price as the digital purchase. (Upon this review, both the 4k Blu-ray combo and Digital purchase each cost $29.99.)