Sequels are supposed to be bigger and better and such is the case with “The Dark Knight”; the eagerly-awaited sequel to 2005″s “Batman Begins”. Unless you”ve been hiding out in, well, a (bat) cave the last year or so odds are that you”ve heard a thing or two about this movie. Is it the biggest movie of all-time? Is it better than the original? Did the sudden passing of Heath Ledger shine a little more light on this movie than need be? These are all speculative questions and ones that I don”t really know the answer to, but I will say that this film is one of the few that I actually went out and braved the audiences and saw with the masses. I”ll say, right here and now, that I preferred “Batman Begins” to this movie though I feel both are superb films. I think Heath Ledger”s performance of the Joker is beyond reproach and he should get an Oscar nomination for his part. Director Christopher Nolan is also in top form and if his vision was to make the Dark Knight (both the film and the character) truly darker then he”s succeeded. Though I liked Tim Burton”s adaptations of the Batman character, I prefer Nolan”s. This coming from the person who brought us “Memento”, should we expect any less?
“The Dark Knight” focuses on the same characters and brings in a few new ones to the mix (oddly enough the Joker and Two Face were both characters in the earlier batman films played by Jack Nicholson and Tommy Lee Jones respectively). The Rachel Dawes character is now being portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal (take that Katie Holmes). The plot is painstakingly simple in that Batman (Christian Bale) is helping Lt. Gordon (Gary Oldman) and newly appointed District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) fight the war on crime. All is going well until Gotham sees the rise of an evil crime lord known as the Joker (Heath Ledger). The Joker is relentless in the damage he can cause and has no qualms about the trail of bodies that he leaves in his wake. Will Batman be able to fight off the Joker? Will Batman”s billionaire alter-ego be found out? Will there be new Bat toys for us to fawn over? All the answers are contained in “The Dark Knight”.
Yes, as tongue in cheek as the review was, I really enjoyed “The Dark Knight”. I don”t think it”s worthy of grossing a billion dollars worldwide but Warner Brothers is happy with it and I”m sure it”ll clean up in the technical categories come Oscar time. How big is the movie, really? Well, Warner bumped the new Harry Potter movie from a holiday opening to next summer if that tells you anything. And we”re talking “Harry Potter” here! All of the performances are great and we get a bit more history of Batman and the world in which he lives. Ultimately I think the film will be remembered for the story though right now the death of Heath Ledger is still fresh on everyone”s mind. All that aside, the “new” Batman franchise is among us and I”ve no doubt that we”ll see more and more of the caped crusader as the years pass. To say that this Blu-ray is one of the most anticipated of the year is an understatement; this just might be the biggest selling home video title of all-time.
Video: How does it look?
Warner knows that this will be a big title no matter how it looks or sounds, but far be it from them to not give us what we want, right? “The Dark Knight” is among the more diverse video presentations I”ve seen in that it incorporates multiple aspect ratios. There are about 8 sequences that are shown in the IMAX 1.78:1 aspect ratio (essentially it fills your entire screen) with the remainder of the movie being shown in its 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio. It”s a bit odd to get used to as I really don”t know why these selected scenes were shown in the narrower ratio but all in all it”s one of the finest presentations I”ve seen on the new format. Blacks are very strong and contrast is amazing. The fine detail in some of the scenes literally had me pause to see exactly how much I could see in any given frame. To me, the IMAX sequences seemed to be just a bit sharper which is why I”d have liked to see the sequences in the 2.40:1 ratio just for comparison”s sake. All this aside, anyone who wants to see how good a movie can look need look no further as “The Dark Knight” is literally about as good as they come.
Audio: How does it sound?
As amazing as the movie looks, it sounds just as good and again, Warner knows that to give fans anything less than perfect will not be tolerated. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is simply amazing. I was a bit thrown at first as the movie starts out so soft, but we get a sampling from just about every sound there is; from the big thumps to the little high-pitched sounds of glass breaking. Amazing. There is a depth present that”s just unlike most other titles out there. When the trucks roll along the road, you feel it in the floor and when machine guns fire you can hear it out of every channel. This is what home theater was made for and if you only have 5.1 channels then you are, literally, missing out.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“The Dark Knight” comes to Blu-ray in a three disc set with the third disc being a digital copy. It”s also important to note that this is Warner”s first BD-Live title and we”ll cover that a bit later. The first disc contains a segment of about 18 short featurettes that can be selected while watching the film and we get the little picture-in-picture window that does give us some interesting tidbits about the film. This takes place of the missing audio commentary. The second disc contains the remainder of the supplements and we start out with “Batman Tech” in which we get a very close and in-depth look at all the little toys that Batman has to play with. Admittedly this is the one I gravitated to the most as I”m somewhat of a gadget freak. We get a behind the scenes look at how these were conceived and produced and incorporated into the film. Next up is “Batman Unmasked” which has interviews with pretty much everyone associated with the character and they try to answer the question “why” in regards to the man, myth and legend. Six “Gotham Tonight” shorts are included and if you look closely you can see them running in the movie itself. Anthony Michael Hall is alive and well, folks. Finally we”re rounded out with some still galleries and the original trailer in HD. Lastly, the BD-Live feature lets you record your own commentary track along with the movie. I haven”t tried it, but I”ll check the site in a few weeks to see if anyone did.