[7 July 2008]
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)
Over the years, the movies have given us only sketchy vignettes of how Batman came to be. All that changed when we were given the full details of his origin with the coming of “Batman Begins” (Warner Home Video, 2004, $28.99), which tops the list of titles to be released Tuesday in the Blu-ray high-definition format.
Christian Bale is excellent as Bruce Wayne, who has to overcome his childhood fear of bats and the horror of seeing his parents murdered on the back streets of Gotham City. He leaves Gotham and travels thousands of miles to Asia, where he eventually finds “himself” and realizes what he wants to do with his life. Unfortunately for the bad guys, Wayne returns to Gotham City, where he has decided to fight crime and corruption as Batman.
This is arguably the most relentlessly serious superhero movie ever made. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any light moments during its 140-minute running time.
Michael Caine is fine as Alfred the butler. Also in the cast are Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Tom Wilkinson. The movie is being released on Blu-ray obviously in anticipation of “The Dark Knight,” which arrives in theaters July 18. Bale returns in cape and cowl and the late Heath Ledger, in his final role, plays the Joker.
Warner Home Video also is releasing on Blu-ray a “Batman Begins” Limited Edition Gift Set at $49.99. It includes 12 featurettes, a 32-page “Dark Knight” comic book and five collectable postcards.
Other Blu-ray titles to be released Tuesday include:
“Batman - Gotham Knight” (Warner, 2008, $34.99): An animated effort that follows Bruce Wayne’s journey to becoming the Dark Knight. The extras include, among other things, bonus episodes from “Batman: The Animated Series.”
“The Ruins” (Paramount, 2008, $39.98): Two college couples head to Mexico for a fun getaway in an unrated edition of this horror tale. Before their vacation ends, they are invited to explore the ruins of a Mayan temple. Ooops, bad move. What they find is an evil lurking there. They also learn that you shouldn’t swing on the vines growing all around. Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone and Laura Ramsey head the cast.
“Roy Orbison: A Black & White Night” (Image, 1997, $24.99): Orbison is spotlighted in a terrific concert filmed at Los Angeles’ Cocoanut Grove. Offering Orbison backup is the all-star lineup of Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, k.d. Lang, Bonnie Raitt, T Bone Burnett, J.D. Souther, Jennifer Warnes and Tom Waits. Among the songs are “Only the Lonely,” “Pretty Woman,” “Running Scared,” “Blue Bayou” and “Crying.”
Also recently released on Blu-ray:
“Drillbit Taylor: Extended Survival Edition” (Paramount, 2008, $39.99): In this comedy, Owen Wilson becomes a bodyguard for two kids who are being harassed by the school bully.
All prices listed are the suggested retail price, but titles can be purchased for less by shopping around or going to www.amazon.com.