With all the elements of a great movie—story, action, big budget, and an all-star cast—Batman Begins garnered $205 million in box-office receipts in 2005. The first 45 minutes explores Wayne's past through a series of flashbacks leading up to his training with Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) and the mysterious League of Shadows, the organization that prepares him for his transformation into Batman.
With the identical VC-1 encode of the HD DVD release, Batman Begins looks fantastic on Blu-ray. The print is in fabulous shape with no blemishes to speak of, inky blacks, and exceptional shadow detail. Color saturation is superb, especially during the flashback sequences to Wayne's youth. Detail is admirable, though there are a few scenes that look filtered and a bit soft, leading to some waxy flesh tones.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is pure reference material. The front soundstage is alive, and the surround speakers are extremely active with well-placed discrete effects. Dialog is firmly rooted in the center channel, and the entire soundtrack features phenomenal dynamics, crisp highs, and foundation-shaking bass. The musical score by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer seamlessly integrates into the mix, adding greatly to the story.
All the bonus materials have been seen before on the DVD and HD DVD releases with the exception of "The Dark Knight IMAX Prologue," which features the opening minutes of The Dark Knight, the latest in the Batman movie franchise, presented in HD. Also included is a slew of behind-the-scenes featurettes in SD as well as a Profile 1.1 PIP track that was included on the HD DVD.
Warner sent me the "Limited Edition Gift Set," which includes the Blu-ray, some mini-poster cards, a comic book with the first six minutes of Dark Knight, a graphic novel, and a 3D rendition of the cover art. All are nice additions, and for a $10 premium, they will certainly please diehard fans.
Warner released Batman Begins as an exclusive HD DVD title nearly two years ago, and its release on Blu-ray has been highly anticipated. Fans will be ecstatic with the audio soundtrack, and the video is first-rate. Highly recommended.
Release Date: July 8, 2008
Film: 8 out of 10
Picture: 9 out of 10
Sound: 10 out of 10
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector