The best of the Batman franchise movies so far (both in my opinion and by box office receipts) gets its Blu-Ray and DVD release this Tuesday…Read More for a review of both the movie and the Blu-Ray disc…and if you are interested in some web-based Batman diversions, check out The Dark Knight Widget and The Dark Knight Puzzle.
My wife and I originally saw Dark Knight at the theater, and we both agreed – the main word to describe it is INTENSE. It’s a long movie (2:32), and it just keeps up the energy – any time you think the end is coming, the situation changes yet again. The acting is excellent, but the real star of the show was the late Heath Ledger and his representation of the Joker. Whereas the previous incarnation – embodied by Jack Nicholson – was a more directly comedic character, Ledger’s version doesn’t appear to be comedic, but funny and very, VERY psychotic. As opposed to the traditional bleached skin and green hair, he has adopted poorly applied white makeup and lipstick, emphasising the scars of his Glasgow smile. We really don’t learn about his origins (an intentional omission of the creators), but we do hear a couple of stories as told by the Joker that might explain his mental state – we just don’t know if they are true. His unkempt hair does have a green tint to it, and he does where a purple suit. He is definitely not clown like, although his thugs wear clown-type (but tragic) masks. Ledger developed all of the Jokers mannerisms and speech.
The only part of the movie I can say I had a problem with was Lucius Fox’s issues with the “wall of spies”…seemed strange for the guy that invented the idea for corporate espionage to have an issue with it for saving lives. I’m also confused why Batman had to break in to his place to set it up, instead of somewhere else, like his own facility – where I’ve still missed the reasons why he closed it up.
I personally found this a far better movie than Batman Begins, which I had trouble getting in to.
The Blu-Ray Disc:
The slipcase features Batman on his cycle exploding out of a building, in a blue hue with a metallic sheen and some raised lettering.The disc holder has an image of the Joker standing with a gun with a shot down a Gotham street in similar colors. the back of both the slipcase and holder are identical with the description of the contents (formatting slightly different due to the difference in size), except the holder’s version has been “vandalized” by the Joker.
The Blu-Ray version consists of three discs: A Main Feature disc, screen printed with a scene shot of a silhouetted Batman on a scaffold.; a Special Features disc, screen printed with the Joker’s face; and a Digital Copy disc (standard DVD) which contains a copy for your computer or portable media player, screen printed with the title logo.
On the main disc, the feature will begin playing automatically when loaded, but a pop-up menu gives access to other features. The main feature is in 1080p resolution, and features an English Dolby TrueHD and a Dolby Digital 5.1 track (so my older audio system works well), along with an English track with descriptive narration (the case says it is 2.0, but my stereo indicates it also is in 5.1), plus French and Spanish 5.1 tracks. There are also English, French, and Spanish subtitles. You can also access “Focus Points”, short making of features that can either be accessed independently via the menu, or during the feature when a disc icon appears.
Overall, the video quality is amazing – but that is expected from a Blu-Ray 1080p feature. Of course, the movie is very dark, so the high resolution helps with the details that otherwise just blend in to the darkness.
If you have a BD-Live enabled player, you can also access a variety of BD-Live content, including user-created commentary tracks (once there are some). There are also streaming video clips of animated Batman comics. More features are expected when the release hits the shelves. The streaming seemed to do pretty well on my Playstation 3, connected to my Verizon FIOS connection via a Wireless-G bridge. Initially, I had some trouble registering, but this was likely due to the disc not actually being released yet – I retried several days later and it worked (and why this review is later than planned).
The Special Features disc opens directly to static menu featuring the Joker. From there you can access several categories of special features, which include:
Batman Tech – The gadget and gizmos, and the real science behind them, from armor to the Batmobile, and a bit about the evolution of Batman’s dependency on high tech. 45 minutes.
Batman Unmasked: The Psychology Of The Dark Knight – The psychology of the character and the villains. 46 minutes.
Gotham Tonight – 6 “episodes” from Gotham Cable News, with interviews and discussions about the “problem” of a vigilante.
The Galleries – Production art and still photos.
Trailers and More – all the trailers and TV spots.
Given that it takes an entire second disc, I was actually surprised at the amount of content – it seemed quite small, but the first three mentioned features are longer than most similar features. No deleted scenes, extended scenes, or outtakes.
I really would have liked to see a more varied set of special features, but otherwise this is an excellent release and an excellent movie. And did I mention, intense?