The Dark Knight
Released: July 18, 2008
Average Rating: 4.5 stars (2 users)
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Performed by THE PIPES AND DRUMS OF THE CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT
"4 A MOMENT OF SILENCE"
Written by MASAYUKI NAKANO and MICHIYUKI KAWASHIMA
Performed by BOOM BOOM SATELLITES
Courtesy of EPIC RECORDS & SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT (JAPAN) INC.
By arrangement with SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT
|by Dan Goldwasser
on November 29th, 2008
There's not much sense in rehashing my review of The Dark Knight; my review is still available below. The sequel to Batman Begins involves Bruce Wayne's alter-ego Batman (Christian Bale) and his continuing war on crime in Gotham City. With the help of Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman starts to clean up Gotham - but the Joker (Heath Ledger) and his anarchistic approach threatens to thrust the city into complete chaos, and pushes Batman to crossing the line between hero and vigilante. As a film, it was one of the best ones released in 2008, aided by an unnerving performance by the late Heath Ledger. In structure, The Dark Knight actually worked better as a crime movie than a comic-book movie, even if it ran a tad on the long side. It was also the biggest film of the year so far, with about $530 million domestic in box office take. Just in time for the holidays, The Dark Knight comes to home video on DVD in a single-disc and two-disc "special edition", as well as Blu-ray. This review focuses on the Blu-ray release.
The image quality is, without a doubt, exceptional. The Blu-ray contains the IMAX version of the film, with certain sequences opened up filling the top and bottom of the frame, with slight windowboxing on the sides. It's not the full IMAX frame, but it looks absolutely stunning - the level of detail is truly a jaw-dropping one, and the action sequences that were shot in IMAX are going to remain the ultimate home theater demo material for a while to come. The rest of the film is presented at the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen theatrical ratio that the film was shown in, and I can't say that it looks any worse than the IMAX sequences, although just a tad softer. Still, this is an excellent image - even if it feels just a hair darker than I remember it being in theaters. Blacks are so solid that just as I start to feel that detail is getting lost in them, the scene will change and it will look great. Similarly the audio packs a whollop. Presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 as well as standard English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks (as well as a handy "Descriptive Narration" English track), this audio will rock your home theater. Immersive and punchy (especially during the action sequences), your subwoofer and rear speakers are sure to get a work-out from this film. Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard's score sounds great, and fills the rear channels nicely helping the atmosphere of the movie.
While the film delivers in terms of video and audio quality, it falls somewhat shorter when it comes to the extras. On the first disc, the only real extras is a section called "Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene". Broken into 18 featurettes labeled "Focus Points" these HD segments can be viewed individually or all at once, or via an icon prompt as you watch the film. It's not a picture-in-picture track (unlike the Batman Begins In-Movie Experience), but rather a little over an hour of very well done behind-the-scenes material. There is a focus on IMAX shooting, costumes, vehicles, music, stunts, miniature effects, and some of the action sequences. The focus points are "The Prologue" (9-minutes), "The New Bat-Suit" (5-minutes), "Joker Theme" (6-minutes), "Hong Kong Jump" (3-minutes), "Judge's Car Blows Up" (1-minute), "Challenges of the Chase, in IMAX" (4-minutes), "SWAT Van into River" (2-minutes), "Miniature Unit" (1.5-minutes), "Destruction of the Batmobile" (2-minutes), "Bat-Pod" (6-minutes), "Helicopter Crash" (1-minute), "Truck Flip" (4-minutes), "MCU Explosion" (1-minute), "Lamborghini Crash" (2-minutes), "Hospital Explosion" (7-minutes), "Mob Car Flip" (40-seconds), "String of Sausages Stunt" (2-minutes), and "Upping the Ante" (6.5-minutes). What's great about some of these segments are the alternate camera angle seen for many of the action sequences, which were shot but not used. (Also, witnessing the accidental destruction of an IMAX camera is a painful yet worthwhile moment!) Sadly there is nothing on Two-Face and the amazing visual effects work, or anything on Heath Ledger and his untimely passing. The only other extra on the first disc is a "Warner Bros. BD-Live" section. Supposedly you can record your own picture-in-picture video commentary for the film and share it with other users, plan a group screening with movie-chat, as well as view some streaming video versions of some Batman animated comic books. But after trying to register with the WB BD-Live server a few different times, I kept getting an error and gave up.
The second disc contains two "Behind the Story" documentaries, both of which had aired on the History Channel around the time of the film's theatrical release, and presented in HD. "Batman Tech" (46-minutes) takes a look at the gadgetry that Batman uses in the film, and how all of them are based on actual modern technology. "Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight" (46-minutes) is a more analytical look at the internal conflicts brewing within Bruce Wayne and the villains he encounters, as they are psychoanalyzed by experts. Both of these are interesting documentaries that help put The Dark Knight into a real-world context, but they offer very little in the way of the making of the film.
Offering even less information into the making of the film are the six "Gotham Tonight" segments (46-minutes). Hosted by Gotham Cable News reporter Mike Engel (Anthony Michael Hall), these faux news segments appeared (in part) in the film, and give a little bit more back-story to the events that take place in the film. They're mildly entertaining, but don't offer much replay value. "The Galleries" includes an slew of production artwork and photos, with "Joker Cards", "Concept Art", "Poster Art" and "Production Stills". "Trailers and More" (9-minutes) contains three theatrical trailers and six television spots, all in HD. A third disc is included, containing a Digital Copy of the film for viewing on your iPod or other portable device.
The Dark Knight is one of the best films of 2008, and it's given an amazing presentation on Blu-ray. The extras on the first disc are great, but serve more as a tease for what could be a double-dip down the road. There is some interesting supplemental material, but don't hold up to the level of the behind-the-scenes material presented on the Batman Begins Blu-ray release. Couple that with a second disc that is filled with mainly ancillary fluff, and you have a strong signal that we might be revisiting The Dark Knight in a year or two. If that doesn't bother you, then definitely pick it up in stores on December 9th.
|by Dan Goldwasser
on July 9th, 2008
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