Blu-ray Review: The Dark Knight.

Warner Home Entertainment
Release date: December 9, 2008
MSRP: $35.99

Director: Chris Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman

Once again, Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne/The Batman and, thanks to a brilliant online marketing campaign, the anticipation was unprecedented.

Fortunately Mr. Bale and company deliver the goods. The Dark Knight finds The Batman struggling to maintain his principles while being pushed to the limit by The Joker (Heath Ledger in an Oscar-worthy performance).

But the Batman is not alone; he is assisted by Lt. Gordon ( Gary Oldman) and the new D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Dent is being heralded as a shining knight for Gotham, and Batman is hoping that Eckhart will be effective enough that the Batman may no longer be necessary.

Dircetor Christopher Nolan does a great job of mixing explosive action with drama and humanity. The result is a popcorn flick that has depth and resonates with emotion.

This incarnation of Batman is by far my favorite. It borrows heavily from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year one as well as modern classics such as Hush and The Long Halloween. These titles take heroes and villains and dump into a darker version of the real world, one where gangs and organized crime runs rampant and much of the government is in the pocket of crime bosses. Like its predecessor, The Dark Knight continues to mix reality and fantasy. I would say that Nolan’s Batman films have a darker, more realistic tone than any other comic book series to date.

Video:
Going in, I had a pretty good idea that the folks at Warner were going to kick my ass. That is exactly what happened. I am hard-pressed to name another disc that looked as good as The Dark Knight. The film is very dark and the contrast is outstanding. Even in the darkest of scenes, I could see things pretty well. The colors are very rich and well saturated. The scenes shot in IMAX will leave you breathless, though the change in ratios from 2.4:1 to 1.78:1 are a little disconcerting. TDK feels as though it was filmed with an HD presentation in mind, as each shot feels like it was meticulously planned out.

Audio:
Wow, that is the only word that describes the sound of this disc. The mix is TrueHD 5.1 and it delivers some serious chaos. The use of the various channels is damn impressive. It also offers DD 5.1 mixes in English, French, and Spanish, as well as an English DD 2.0 mix. Subtitles are provided in all of the mentioned languages.

Extras:
Gotham Uncovered is delivered in a very interesting manner. You can watch it as a documentary or as picture in picture segments mixed throughout the film. This contains a ton of info and gives viewers a very detailed look behind the scenes of TDK.

Batman Tech is a documentary, made for television, that looks at all of the gadgets of the Batman. Many of them are based on actual military devices. I am fairly certain that Batman Unmasked was also not made for this release, as I recall seeing it on television as well. It is interesting, but goes on a bit too much. I enjoyed watching it, but must confess I turned it off before it came to a conclusion. Gotham tonight shows us part of the amazing promotional campaign that led up to the release of the film. I would have liked them to include some screenshots of the various fake web sites created for the film. Actually, why not give us a featurette about the groundbreaking Internet PR campaign? Over a dozen sites created, Harvey Dent vans around the country, contests that inspired thousands to dress as the Joker…it was incredible.

There is a third disc here that contains a digital download version of the film.
While Batman was my favorite superhero growing up, Nolan’s Batman films are, without a doubt, my absolute favorite superhero films. They give the characters very real emotions and motivations and Ledger’s Joker is terrifying. As Alfred says “Some people simply want to watch the world burn.” The Joker seems to fall into that category. While Nicholson’s Joker was dangerous, this one seems to come out of the darkest corners of our imagination.

The great story and vivid characters make this a must-have, but it is the amazing visuals that make this an obvious choice for Blu-ray disc Even those that . Pop some popcorn, turn down the lights and enter Nolan’s sinister world in all its High Def glory.

Order The Dark Knight from Amazon.
Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.