The Dark Knight
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Dark Knight, The (Dbl BD)
The follow-up to Batman Begins, THE DARK KNIGHT reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, who reprises the role of BATMAN /BRUCE WAYNE in his continuing war on crime. With the help of LT. JIM GORDON and District Attorney HARVEY DENT,BATMAN sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. The triumvirate proves effective, but soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as THE JOKER, who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces BATMAN closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante. Heath Ledger stars as archvillain THE JOKER, and Aaron Eckhart plays Dent. Maggie Gyllenhaal joins the cast as RACHEL DAWES. Returning from Batman Begins are Gary Oldman as Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred and Morgan Freeman as LUCIUS FOX.]]>
The Dark Knight arrives with tremendous hype (best superhero movie ever? posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger?), and incredibly, it lives up to all of it. But calling it the best superhero movie ever seems like faint praise, since part of what makes the movie great--in addition to pitch-perfect casting, outstanding writing, and a compelling vision--is that it bypasses the normal fantasy element of the superhero genre and makes it all terrifyingly real. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is Gotham City's new district attorney, charged with cleaning up the crime rings that have paralyzed the city. He enters an uneasy alliance with the young police lieutenant, Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), and Batman (Christian Bale), the caped vigilante who seems to trust only Gordon--and whom only Gordon seems to trust. They make progress until a psychotic and deadly new player enters the game: the Joker (Heath Ledger), who offers the crime bosses a solution--kill the Batman. Further complicating matters is that Dent is now dating Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, after Katie Holmes turned down the chance to reprise her role), the longtime love of Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne.
In his last completed role before his tragic death, Ledger is fantastic as the Joker, a volcanic, truly frightening force of evil. And he sets the tone of the movie: the world is a dark, dangerous place where there are no easy choices. Eckhart and Oldman also shine, but as good as Bale is, his character turns out rather bland in comparison (not uncommon for heroes facing more colorful villains). Director-cowriter Christopher Nolan (Memento) follows his critically acclaimed Batman Begins with an even better sequel that sets itself apart from notable superhero movies like Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man because of its sheer emotional impact and striking sense of realism--there are no suspension-of-disbelief superpowers here. At 152 minutes, it's a shade too long, and it's much too intense for kids. But for most movie fans--and not just superhero fans--The Dark Knight is a film for the ages. --David Horiuchi
On the Blu-ray disc
The Dark Knight on Blu-ray is a great home-theater showoff disc. The detail and colors are tremendous in both dark and bright scenes (the Gotham General scene is a great example of the latter), and the punishing Dolby TrueHD soundtrack makes the house rattle. (After giving us only Dolby 5.1 in a number of big Blu-ray releases this fall, Warner came through with Dolby TrueHD on this one.) One of the most interesting elements of The Dark Knight was how certain scenes were shot in IMAX, and if you saw the movie in an IMAX theater the film's aspect ratio would suddenly change from standard 2.40:1 to a thrilling 1.43:1 that filled the screen six stories high. For the Blu-ray disc, director Christopher Nolan has somewhat re-created this experience by shifting his film from 2.40:1 aspect ratio (through most of the film) to 1.78:1 in the IMAX scenes. While the effect isn't as dramatic as it was in theaters, it's still an eye-catching experience to be watching the film on a widescreen TV with black bars at the top and bottom, then seeing the 1.78:1 scenes completely fill the screen. The main bonus feature on disc 1 is "Gotham Uncovered: The Creation of a Scene," which is 81 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage about the IMAX scenes, the Bat suit, Gotham Central, and others. You can watch the film and access these featurettes when the icon pops up, or you can simply watch them from the main menu. A welcome and unusual feature is that in addition to English, French, and Spanish audio and subtitles, there's an audio-described option that allows the sight-impaired to experience the film as well.
Disc 2 has two 45-minute documentaries on Bat-gadgets and on the psychology of Batman, both in high definition. They combine movie clips, talking heads, and comic-book panels, but aren't the kind of thing one needs to watch twice. More engaging are six eight-minute segments of Gotham Central, a faux-news program that gives some background to events in the movie, plus a variety of trailers, poster art, and more. The BD-Live component on disc 1 is more interesting than on some earlier Blu-ray discs, which could be simply a matter of the content starting to catch up with the technology. There are three new picture-in-picture commentaries, by Jerry Robinson (creator of the Joker), DC Comics president Paul Levitz, and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.--he's a Batman fan who's made some movie and TV cameos), plus you can record your own commentary and upload it for others to watch. There are also three new featurettes ("Sound of the Batpod," "Harvey Dent's Theme," and "Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard") and two motion comics ("Mad Love," featuring Harley Quinn, and "The Shadow of Ra's Al Ghul"). No longer available is the digital copy of the film (compatible with iTunes and Windows Media, standard definition, download code expires 12/9/09). --David Horiuchi
The follow-up to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, who reprises the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne in his continuing war on crime. With the help of Lt. Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. The triumvirate proves effective, but soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as The Joker, who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces Batman closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante. Heath Ledger stars as archvillain The Joker, and Aaron Eckhart plays Dent. Maggie Gyllenhaal joins the cast as Rachel Dawes. Returning from Batman Begins are Gary Oldman as Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox.
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This was always a good looking movie.. but the 4K remaster makes it so much better. Of all discs I've tried, this has to be one of the best. It alternates between the film footage and IMAX footage which just pops off the screen. Grain is pretty minimal, colors and everything are great, but it does look like they raised the shadow detail as the darkest blacks were never quite black (even on an OLED TV). But everything else popped off the screen, especially with the HDR. Highly recommended upgrade.
On the audio side we're also looking at DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio (no Dolby Atmos) but it's a good track still.
The disc comes with a nice slipcover, the 4K Disc and a Blu-Ray + Special Features as well as a digital copy code. You can also pick this up in the Dark Knight Trilogy which has the same content (but no slipcover) or in the Christopher Nolan 4K Collection (which uses a bulky case to house all 7 Christopher Nolan movies and has no digital copy codes)
There's nothing about this movie not to like. The returning and new actors are incredible - Heath Ledger as the Joker will make you crazy, but just enough so you can keep watching. Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent will leave you wondering, and his character is developed just enough to make his arc perfect - to keep you wondering but not shocked.
Bottom line: whether you're into superheroes or not, DC Comics or Marvel, whether you've watched every Batman movie and read every comic or haven't seen a single one, this movie is well worth watching. You're probably better off watching Batman Begins first (that is incredible as well) but I don't think it's necessary. You'll just find some of the information new, which is always fantastic.
And BTW, no pressure to watch The Dark Knight Rises after this. It's not a bad film but it kind of disappoints. See my review here: https://www.amazon.com/review/R3TKBV8CSCXFOE/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8
This movie series is least appropriate for kids due to the psychological and stark way in which violence is portrayed.