That loud noise you heard seeping from movie theaters this past summer was millions of Batman fans issuing a collective sigh of relief after watching their beloved franchise return to form. Batman Begins is a monstrously successful superhero film for the simple fact that it ISN’T a superhero film. Batman wasn’t bitten by a bat or engulfed in radioactive matter as a kid – he doesn’t even have any special powers, really. And Begins finally addresses these matters, beautifully documenting Bruce Wayne’s transformation without cutting corners or beating any dead horses. What follows is a stylish, mature caper with a dream team (Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson) of supporting players. Christian Bale is extremely worthy as the Caped Crusader’s darkest onscreen iteration yet; Cillian Murphy makes an outstanding foil.

Extras: A generous assortment of dossiers, galleries and behind-the-scenes features (some hidden, some not), glued together by an extremely clever interface that doubles as an interactive comic book. Also: MTV’s "Tankman Begins" spoof and a slick 72-page comic book featuring three stories.

DVD Grade: A

—Billy O’Keefe (KRT)

© 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

Batman Begins: Deluxe Edition is currently available.