Let’s be honest: after the cinematic car crash that was 1997’s Batman and Robin, we never expected to see another film featuring the Caped Crusader.
But that’s the brilliance of Christopher Nolan’s film. It doesn’t so much reinvent a struggling franchise as bring it back from the dead, injecting vitality into both the character and our interest.
Dark and gritty
As 2008’s The Dark Knight would later emphasise, Nolan’s vision of Gotham City and its most famous denizen is significantly grittier than earlier Batman offerings.
Despite the starry cast, there’s little of the back-slapping excess and contractually stipulated screen-time that so tainted Joel Schumacher’s earlier film: here, every performer earns his or her spurs, with Cillian Murphy’s brooding Scarecrow and Michael Caine’s acerbic Alfred providing particular high points.
Batman means business
And, of course, Christian Bale is a triumphant Batman. His physicality helps his cause - unlike some of his forebears, he looks capable of giving you a proper slap, and leaving a substantial mark in the process.
But Bale also manages to invest the role with depths that have eluded his forebears, punctuating his performance with a dark and occasionally menacing edge that adds useful nuance to both his Wayne and Batman personas.
The film’s production design, and with it Nolan’s determination to provide as realistic a backdrop as possible, only cements its impact. The Batmobile is a work of genius, its tumultuous car chase scene providing the near-perfect Blu-ray test sequence to demonstrate your system’s sound and vision prowess.
The clean transfer and formidably muscular sound (engineered in Dolby TrueHD) amplifies its considerable impact.