003797Reviews & Counting
The Dark Knight
BLU-RAY disk
12.09.2008 By: Mike Sampson
The Dark Knight order
Christopher Nolan

Christian Bale
Heath Ledger
Aaron Eckhart
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Morgan Freeman
Michael Caine


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Bruce Wayne is a billionaire who dresses up in a bat suit to fight crime. He's starting to question his impact on Gotham City while an ambitious politician, Harvey Dent, is eager to clean up the streets. Both meet their match in a homicidal maniac who calls himself The Joker. Not interested in money, The Joker has a different agenda. Mayhem.
Is it a good movie?... By now you've heard all the fawning praise over THE DARK KNIGHT, which have gone from calling it the best superhero movie of all-time to one of the best overall movies of all-time. But can it possibly live up to that hype? Surprisingly, yes.

While some movies wilt in the face of hype (see: JUNO), THE DARK KNIGHT flourishes. In can withstand even the most scrutinizing second viewing. I say second viewing because at just short of $1 billion theatrically, I, and many of you out there, will be watching this for at least the second time on DVD and Blu-ray. I'm here to report that TDK loses nothing on home video and I actually found myself with a greater appreciation for the film watching it on Blu-ray.

While the film certainly features some slightly fantastical elements like a man dressing up in a batsuit and an evil villain in clown makeup, DARK KNIGHT has more in common with films like HEAT, THE GODFATHER and ZODIAC than SPIDER-MAN or IRON MAN. This is not to say that THE DARK KNIGHT is better than any of those films but certainly the company that it keeps.

Director Christopher Nolan, along with co-writers Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer, has crafted a tight story (something remarkable for a 152 minute film) and a visually stunning film (the "bank heist" prologue was shot using Imax cameras). The performances are solid across the board with the lone exception being Maggie Gyllenhaal's Rachel Dawes. Once again that character is the weak link of the film but at least in this film, she's here for a reason.

Speaking of performances, once can't speak about THE DARK KNIGHT without spending some time on Heath Ledger's virtuoso swan song as The Joker. Sure to take it's spot on the list of some of the greatest performances in movie history, Ledger created a screen villain as chilling as anything Anthony Hopkins concocted in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. He's a shoo-in for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and a deserved standing ovation awaits when they call his name.
Focus Points (HD) - 45 minutes: Presented on Disc 1 as one of those "pop-up" type features where a little gold disc will appear on screen allowing you to click on it to open up a featurette on certain key points in the movie like the prologue, the new batsuit and the Hong Kong stunt jump. I've always found this kind of viewing slightly disjointed (leaving the narrative of the movie to embark on a behind-the-scene video) though to be fair, you can access them separately through the Main Menu. There's some decent material in some of them focusing entirely on the making of the film (I had no idea IMAX reels were so freaking big). What I found relatively surprising it that it's almost all set video and stills with little to no exclusive video. The key players provide a voiceover and that's it.

"Batman Tech" (HD) - 45 minutes - The first extra on the 2nd disc is this feature, which, as advertised, focus on the various gadgets and gizmos Batman employs. There is some overlap with the above-discussed Focus Points that already discussed the batsuit and his vehicles. What this doc hammers home is that all of his tech is grounded in real life applications and this takes a look at their inspirations.

"Batman Unmasked" (HD) - 45 minutes: The second of the two major documentaries, "Unmasked" delves into the psychology of Batman and his villains. This was originally produced as a History Channel documentary that you might have already seen and shouldn't be considered exclusive to the DVDs. You get more doctors and psychiatrists than directors and actors, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It certainly is a lot more entertaining than a fluff piece about how awesome this or that actor was.

"Gotham Tonight" (HD) - 46 minutes - A compilation of the six "Gotham Tonight" episodes were also previously aired this summer through a partnership with Comcast's VOD service. I wasn't into them then and they provided me with little entertainment now.

Still Galleries - If you're a true Batnut, you've seen most of these stills on the web already, but you can slideshow through this gallery of Joker Cards, clown masks and all the various posters for the film.

Theatrical Trailers/TV Spots (HD) - While you've seen these all before, here they're collected in HD and the trailers look absolutely amazing.

Digital Copy - A digital copy of the movie (in standard non-HD definition) is available to transfer to your iPod or computer. I always love this added feature and it makes traveling without a ton of discs much easier.

BD-Live - While there wasn't anything live on BD-Live when I reviewed this, you will soon be able to record your own video commentary of the film with a webcam to share with your friends who would then watch it with the picture-in-picture feature. On December 18th, Warner Bros. will also be hosting a live commentary with director Christopher Nolan. The event will be by invite only for the first 100,000 people to respond after registering here.
THE DARK KNIGHT is absolutely one of the best movies of the year and absolutely one of the best Blu-ray presentations I've seen so far (going neck-and-neck with WALL-E for both kudos). I was a bit disappointed in the amount of original extras included on the disc but Nolan has gone on the record with his disdain for deleted scenes and bloopers. You'll also hear precious little about the late Heath Ledger in any of the added material. I would've loved an audio commentary but perhaps that's what we'll get with the upcoming BD-Live feature.
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