Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
I like the box cover with the slightly askew Joker on the front. The slip cover with the “bat pod” is hit or miss for me. I’m not a fan of slip covers, so it’s a hard sell no matter what they put on it. The menu isn’t as elaborate as I would imagine a Batman menu to be, but then again, I like the unexpected.
- Movie With Focus Points –An excellent presentation of a group of extras, behind the scenes, interviews, etc. You can watch the movie with these popping up, OR choose to watch them separately from a menu. Good stuff.
- Gotham Uncovered Creation Of A Scene – How select scenes go from paper to the screen, start to finish. It’s always interesting to see the process of any kind of movie, big budget or indie.
- Batman Tech – Everything that makes Batman tick, gadgets, his suit, the bat mobile. It’s well presented for the Batman geek in your life:)
- Batman Unmasked – What does it take to make a mere mortal actor become the caped crusader?? This might just answer that question for ya. It’s a standard feature these days on DVD’s, but still a welcome addition to the package.
- Gotham Tonight – I like this collection of interviews done in character between the local news anchor, Anthony Michael Hall, and other Gotham citizenry. They are very detailed and pretty long. I felt like I was watching a real news interview show, well almost. Adds some details to the story, so it’s worth watching AFTER the movie.
- Galleries, Trailers & TV Spots – Self explanatory.
The Movie: 7/10
I’m a moderate fan of the Batman TV series from the late 60’s and 70’s. I’m luke warm on a couple of the Batman movies from the 80’s and 90’s I love Batman Begins, and now I’m thrilled to say I’m equally taken by The Dark Knight. Go figure. I’m not a super hero or comic book person, but when all the elements come together I fall in love with stories like The Dark Knight. I’m not sure why exactly, but I’ll try to explain it.
First of all the cast of this film is excellent. From Bale to Ledger, to Gyllenhaal, everyone is excellent. They all give me the sense of just the right balance of serious vs. cheeky. After all, they are telling story of a comic book super hero. They aren’t curing diseases or saving the planet. I think that comes through in a strange way. There are light hearted gestures and moments with each actor, and then there are times when you feel their raw power. That power that they summon up when it’s time for their character to kick ass or fall apart emotionally at a pivotal time in their story.
We aren’t talking about light hearted little adventures here. This movie explores political corruption, motivations of the criminal mind, hopelessness, devotion, heart break, you name it. Even with the heavy, thought provoking elements, you can also just see it as a butt kicking flick. I mean, let’s be honest. A crazy guy who has no remorse, no desires beyond causing destruction and chaos needs to be taken down, right? Who better to do it than an emotionally torn hero who can’t seem to resolve his own issues without putting on some wings and a mask. In contrast to Batman Begins, this time around we are all clear about who Batman is and where he came from. What we don’t know for sure is why he keeps doing it all. He’s a bazillionaire who fights crime in his spare time, and he doesn’t have to. He can sit in is penthouse and watch the world tear itself apart, but he chooses not to.
I think that’s what’s so intriguing about this incarnation of Batman. The earlier movies are good vs. bad, lots of empty calories when it came to bad guys and even a few Batmen weren’t very endearing or interesting. Since Christopher Nolan took the directorial reigns it’s a whole new world. The dark side of human nature against the struggles of good people to just get on with life. We have the good cop, Gary Oldman who symbolizes all the good citizens of Gotham who suffer at the hands of criminal master minds and tyrannical evil doers.
We have Rachel who stands for the more bold, unflinching but vulnerable legal system that seems to be at the mercy of the underworld of crime and corruption. Harvey Dent is a further extension and embodiment of fearlessness, and even as his weaknesses are revealed, we want him to be the ultimate good guy. It’s written and crafted in a way that pulls us one way and then swings us around a corner. Even the Joker plays with our sense of empathy turning to disgust. It’s not all original stuff, but come on, with the excellent performances, the amazing action, and the very palpable world they have created in Gotham City, it’s the exact right balance of fun, tension, fear, and social commentary.
Speaking of the Joker, of course, Heath Ledger shakes me a little bit to the bone with some of his moments. A subtle giggle or sigh, whew, I was creeped out and that’s not easy to do. When he’s walking out of a building that’s exploding and has an almost demented look about him, it’s chilling and is the number one reason this movie is grounded in a kind of darkness, a constructed reality that elevates it so far beyond the earlier Batman movies. It’s not camp or goofy. It’s extraordinary characters squeezed into what looks like our real world, but then twisted around enough to be captivating.
Christian Bale is always so good I want more more more. He’s got an air of snobbery about him, but then again, wouldn’t Bruce Wayne? Gyllenhaal is superb, smart, strong, totally drew me in from the first moment I saw her on the screen. It’s a great cast, delivering what I think is an excellent action story. I can’t even think of anything I didn’t really like about the movie. Overall I didn’t want it to end, what more can I say? I think I’ll just pretend those “other” Batman movies don’t exist.
Audio & Video: 9/10
Now this is a movie I can get behind. The Dark Knight is stunning from start to finish. With the much talked about sublime performance from the late Heath Ledger and a superb cast it’s hard to go wrong.
Visually this movie is a treat and the Blu-Ray disc is the first to use a variable aspect ratio. When I first heard about this I thought it was going to be the most annoying thing ever but in practice it works superbly. Director Christopher Nolan filmed several of the action scenes with a IMAX camera and these scenes not only have extra resolution they fill the screen vertically and horizontally. About a quarter of the running time is featured in IMAX and the rest is displayed in your standard letterbox. The jump between the scenes is noticeable (well to me anyway, Cidtalk didn’t notice) and the added height of the IMAX sequences really brings you into the action. It’s a great feature and a good way of trying to emulate the IMAX experience at home (having a 104 inch screen to watch it on doesn’t hurt:)).
Audio is handled using the Dolby TrueHD format and sounds incredible. The thing I liked most about The Dark Knight’s audio presentation is Hans Zimmer’s awesome score. I do not really notice music in movies that often but this is a step above everything else. It’s a swelling, brooding soundtrack that really hits emotionally during some of the films key scenes. The Dark Knight is Warner’s return to form on Sony’s HD format. Lets hope they keep up this quality with future releases.
Dark Knight is an excellent movie. It’s fun, it’s visceral, it’s exciting, it’s something I will enjoy more and more when I watch it again and again. The extras are well thought out and offer a good post-movie experience. That doesn’t mean it’s worth nearly 30 bucks. You can throw all the extras in the box you can cram in there, at the end of the day it’s a movie, entertainment. It’s not worth five hours of working a minimum wage job, just because people who make a WHOLE lot more than that decide it is. When it’s in the bargain bin in a year or two at $9.99, I would consider adding it to my collection. Until then renting it online or even the old fashioned way, a real life DVD rental store is reasonable.
You know what? I’m going to start being straight up about this whole value thing. I do not support any DVD, Blu-Ray, or any other form of digital movie that is priced higher than my monthly water bill. How much is my water bill? Between $10 and $15. I want my priorities to be clear. I LOVE movies. They are and always have been a dear and vital part of my life. In fact I would say movies have shaped a lot of who I am as a person, strange as that might be. They are NOT something I can, in clear conscience, spend a bloated amount of money (which I earn by working for a living) just because movie studios and film makers spend the kind of cash they do to make the darn things.
Overall Score 8/10