Towards the end of last year, Batman: The Animated Series was finally upgraded to high definition and released on Blu-ray. Regular readers of this blog will recall I published multiple posts about the set when it hit shelves.
However, if you’d like something a little easier to digest then this is the post for you. Today I’m going to provide a more concise review of the Batman: The Animated Series Blu-ray boxset – a boxset I’m still dipping into, months after its release.
OK, before I talk about the set as a whole, here’s a brief run down of everything included in the Batman: The Complete Animated Series Blu-ray collection.
- 109 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series in high definition
- 1 x Batman: Mask of the Phantasm feature-length movie in high definition
- 1 x Batman: Subzero feature-length movie in high definition + The Mr. Freeze Saga (four episodes covering the entire Mr. Freeze story, including the Batman Beyond episode, Meltdown)
- 5 x episode introductions including: On Leather Wings, Christmas with the Joker, Nothing to Fear, The Last Laugh and Pretty Poison
- 12 x episode commentaries including: On Leather Wings, Heart of Ice, Robin’s Reckoning Part 1, Heart of Steel Part 2, Almost Got ’em, Harley and Ivy, Read My Lips, House and Garden, Harlequinade, Over the Edge, Critters and Legends of the Dark Knight
- 1 x The Heart of Batman documentary – New to this boxset
- 1 x Concepting Harley Quinn featurette – New to this boxset
- 1 x The Dark Knight’s First Night Pilot Promo featurette hosted by Bruce Timm
- 1 x Batman: The Legacy Continues retrospective featurette
- 1 x Tour of the Batcave featurette
- 1 x Robin Rising featurette
- 1 x Gordon’s Guardians featurette
- 1 x Voices of the Dark Knight featurette
- 1 x Gotham’s New Knight featurette
- 11 x Arkham Asylum profiles on: Clayface, Harley Quinn, The Joker, Mr. Freeze, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Ra’s al Ghul, The Riddler, Scarecrow, Two-Face and The Ventriloquist & Scarface
- 1 x digital code to redeem all 109 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series in standard definition
In addition to the above content, the collection is presented in a beautiful outer slip case, with a ‘book-style’ inner case to hold all 12 discs.
OK, so let’s talk about the main reason why anyone would want to pick up this boxset and that is the episodes. As noted above, this set includes all 109 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and this breaks down as follows:
- 65 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series
- 20 episodes of The Adventures of Batman & Robin
- 24 episodes of The New Batman Adventures
Across the course of these 109, 20-minute instalments, are fan-favourite episodes such as Heart of Ice, Trial, The Laughing Fish, Almost Got ‘Im, Mad as a Hatter, etc. I’ve previously ranked all the episodes, so feel free to check out this list if you want to know which stories I favour the most.
Now collectively, the episodes in this boxset comprise more than 36 hours of content – a great deal of animation for anyone’s money. However, these episodes have previously been available in standard definition DVD – so what makes them worth buying this time around?
It’s simple really: If you’ve only watched Batman: The Animated Series in standard definition then you’ve never seen Batman: The Animated Series at its best. The show has been given a stunning makeover.
This is a series that is known for being dark (metaphorically and figuratively), but thanks to the HD transfer so much colour comes through in each episode. It’s strange to think it’s taken so long for the show to be viewed the way it was meant to, but here it is in all its glory!
A little while back, Warner Bros. published a video to highlight the difference the HD has made to the show. If you click on the video below you will see a side-by-side comparison between SD and HD.
Looks better, right?
It does, but I’ll be honest, while this video is useful for highlighting the difference between SD and HD, it still doesn’t demonstrate just how good the upgrade is. When you see the episodes in full, without half of the screen being obscured by standard definition, you can really see the transformation.
This Blu-ray release has ensured that the show has never looked so good. The colours pop, the outlines are crisp and the overall look is just so defined – it’s outstanding.
The special features
Many of the special features in this Blu-ray release have been transferred from previous DVD boxsets, so if you’ve picked up the show before then you’ll be familiar with them. However, there is some new content, including a documentary called, The Heart of Batman.
Running approximately 1hr 38mins, The Heart of Batman looks at Batman: The Animated Series from its inception through to the various stages of production and beyond.
The documentary features key figures from the world of Batman: The Animated Series, including Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski and Jean MacCurdy. The Heart of Batman can be watched as one documentary or it can be broken into individual compartments.
The other features on this boxset are listed at the beginning of this post (there are a lot of them), but the two I must mention are the feature-length movies: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman: Subzero. These are not just special features, they are premium content!
Mask of the Phantasm is regarded as one of the best Batman movies of all-time (84% on Rotten Tomatoes) and looks superb in HD. The same can be said for Subzero, which looks glorious thanks to this upgrade.
These films could have easily been left out of this boxset and kept as separate releases. The fact they are included demonstrates the quality of this collection.
When you count up the commentaries, documentaries, featurettes AND the two movies, the special features provide hours of additional material which is fantastic added value. Speaking of which…
Value for money
Taking into account the fact this set includes 109 episodes, two movies, and all the additional material (including digital copies), then yes it’s definitely worth the money. The HD alone looks incredible and there’s so much content here that it more than pays for itself.
My only issue with this boxset is that it is missing the animated movie, Mystery of the Batwoman (2003). It’s not a particularly great Batman movie, but it is part of Batman: The Animated Series continuity so I feel it should have been included.
But that really is a minor quibble – this is simply a fantastic boxset. If you’re planning on buying it just for the episodes alone, then you’ll certainly be pleased, but the extras really do add to the value.
Ever since I finished my initial journey through the collection (back in November), I keep dipping back into the boxset to either re-watch favourite episodes or to listen to the commentaries. For me, when it comes to home video, this is one of the best purchases I’ve made and I certainly won’t be upgrading anytime soon.
I hope this review has been useful to you. The review is based on the Region 2 edition (pictured to the left). Generally speaking, this boxset is competitively priced, but feel free to click the links to check out the price from Amazon UK or Amazon US.
Thanks for reading.
If you already own a copy of this Blu-ray, then tell me your thoughts in the comments section below. I would like to know what you like best about the release and what you think about the HD upgrade. You can also tell me about anything else to do with the series – I am a big fan.
Disclaimer: I earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.