HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders
HTS Overall Score:76
Batman is one of the most iconic superheroes of all time. Very little is needed to introduced the caped crusader, and there have been quite a few different iterations of good old Bats over the years. While he hasn’t always been dark and grim beyond belief, he HAS always been a fairly serious character. That is until the 1966 TV series with Burt Ward and Adam West. That old TV show was incredibly goofy, but also one of the most brilliant pieces of superhero satire and social commentary that the character has ever done. Everyone remembers the good old “Biff”, “Pow” moments of that silly show, but that particular interpretation of Batman has been kept solely for a trip down memory lane after the 80s. However, the pendulum has been swinging in the opposite direction lately with shows like “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”, where some of the more lighthearted elements of the character are being brought back. So while it wasn’t out of the question, an animated film like “Batman Return of the Caped Crusaders” was kind of inevitable.
Set in the world of the 1966 TV show, we have Batman and Robin back for one more adventure. The show is not just a return to the ERA of the 1966 show, but the three surviving cast members (Burt Ward as Robin/Dick, Adam West as his iconic portrayal of Bruce/Batman, and Julie Newmar as Catwoman) are back as well. That’s not to say the original villains aren’t back either, but they’re voiced by different people doing their best to imitate Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin and Burgess Meridith (The Joker, The Riddler and Penguin). This time the 4 evil villains have come up with a plan to turn Batman to their side. Using a potion created by Catwoman, they try their best to infect Batman and turn him into an amoral villain who is at their beck and call.
With the potion seemingly failed, the villains escape into the night, and the dynamic duo returns home to Wayne Manor only for Dick to realize that there may be something wrong with Batman. He’s acting strangely and soon begins to show some signs of aberrant behavior. Bats gets more and more violent with his methods used against the 4 kings (and one queen) of crime and soon he decides that the rest of the Gotham City upper management is just getting in his way. Using the replication ray that was confiscated by Riddler Batman clones himself and starts to rule the city by force. Now the only way of taking down the overly maniacal version of Batman is for Robin and Catwoman to team up and try to take out his old mentor.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=83353[/img]The first 20 minutes of “Batman the Return of the Caped Crusaders” could be any episode in the three season TV show. It’s goofy, zany and full of rhyming puns and huge leaps of logic as Batman deduces ridiculous clues to come up with the location for the criminal kings of Gotham. The pacing sometimes suffers just a bit, but once Catwoman’s potion kicks into full gear the film starts to gain its footing. There’s everything about the old 1960’s Batman show here on screen and the actors have a blast with returning to the good old days. While they’re 50 years olders (almost to the year of the show’s premiere), Newmar, Ward and West do a fantastic job with recreating their iconic roles. Surprisingly enough Adam West really doesn’t sound that much different than he did 50 years ago. Sure he’s got a bit more of a rasp in his voice due to age, but I guess hearing him on Family Guy all these years has kept my ears tuned into his voice. Newmar and Ward are nearly unrecognizable though, as they have VERY obviously aged in their vocal patterns. Ward still has the vigorous excitement of the boy wonder, but Newmar is the one who really sounds older. That’s not to say that they do a poor job. Quite the opposite in fact. You can tell that this is a real treat for the trio to be back in the roles that made them famous (well, except for Newmar, her claims to fame were a bit wider in scope than the other two). West has shown over the years to be very jovial and able to laugh at his old character over the years (especially if you watch “Family Guy”) so it’s not surprise to see him just eating up the hammy dialog and old fashioned jokes.
There are some pacing issues in the show, but that was also on par for the old TV show, so I’m chalking it up to an effort to replicate the style and charm of the 60s era. While it may not be as dark or as serious as the new 52 world that has become really popular, I find “Return of the Caped Crusaders” to be an absolute blast as a side film that brings the lighthearted aspect of Batman into the spotlight once more. For those of you who didn’t grow up with the cheese and goofiness of the 1960s show this may seem a bit kiddy and overly hammy, but for those of us who cut our teeth on that iteration of bats, then this will be right up your alley.
Rated PG for action, suggestive material and rude humor
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=83361[/img]“Batman The Return of the Caped Crusaders” comes to Blu-ray with a good looking 1.78:1 AVC encoded image that does look very much like the rest of the DC animated lineup. The animation is changed a bit from the new 52 lineup, and actually doesn’t really resemble most of the animated shows or movies out there. In fact I notice that it really resembles some of the old 70’s and 60s comic drawings. Something which really adds to the refreshing nature of the film. Colors are bright and cheery, with strong reds and greens and yellows with splashes of red for the Joker’s costume and deep dark blues and greys for Batman. Blacks are deep and inky, but there is the very much expected banding that is common with these DC animated films. It’s not as bad as some, but still fairly noticeable. Fine detail is good and I don’t really seen any major artifacting, leaving me with a solid thumbs up for the transfer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=83369[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is as solid entry for the film, and while it’s not wildly bass heavy it does manage to create a very solid and varying level of dynamics. Vocals for the actors are crisp and clean, locked up front in the center channel where they belong, and the surrounds actually get quite a workout with the copious fighting and adventures. The show has more than enough fun, with freeze rays, the roaring of the batmobile and even a bat rocket ship to outer space. The old 60s score is well done and flows naturally throughout all the speakers and is complimented by a nice (if not slightly subtle) amount of LFE added to the mix. It’s not a wild and heavy duty action track, but it replicates the tone and feel of the show, which naturally didn’t ascribe to the modern day mixing style. Still a well done track that does everything asked of it without hesitation.
• "Those Dastardly Desperados" featurette - Joker, Catwoman, Penguin and Riddler are impossible not to watch! Those Dastardly Desperados explores how these fiends became more than just antagonists in a Batman story; they became icons in American pop culture.
• "A Classic Cadre of Voices" featurette - A new talented cast of actors join Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar in Batman: Return of The Caped Crusaders. Go behind the scenes and witness the vocal techniques and timing needed to deliver a classic Bat-Comedy!
• Sneak Peak of "Son of Batman"
• Sneak Peak of "Batman vs. Robin"
“Batman Return of the Caped Crusaders” is a welcome respite from the incredibly oppressive doom and gloom that DC has been using for their new iterations of iconic characters. While I LOVE the dynamic of a brooding Batman, that interpretation has gotten really old (especially after watching the nihilistic “Batman vs. Superman” in theaters this summer). So it’s more than a welcome change of pace to see one of my favorite childhood TV show reruns being turned into a feature length film in this day and age. Burt Ward, Adman West and Julie Newmar are delightful as their iconic roles and the rest of the cast does their absolute best to make this a wonderful homage to an era that is long gone. While the goofy tone and zany puns may not be recognizable to the younger generation, it is one of the more fun Batman movies of the year and well worth a watch.
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar
Directed by: Rick Morales
Written by: Michael Jelenic, James Tucker
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 78 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 1st 2016
Buy Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Fun Watch
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