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Dark Knight, The (Blu-ray Review)

7 Dec, 2008 By: John Latchem

Dark Knight

Street 12/9/2008

Box Office $530 million
$28.98 DVD, $34.99 two-DVD set, $35.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and some menace.
Stars Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts, Anthony Michael Hall, Nestor Carbonell, Melinda McGraw, Nathan Gamble, Michael Jai White.

For cinephiles on the fence about converting to high-def, The Dark Knight should provide more than enough reason to upgrade to Blu-ray Disc.

The film looks absolutely amazing in 1080p. Director Christopher Nolan filmed several notable sequences with Imax cameras, and the Blu-ray takes full advantage of the larger aspect ratio by completely filling an HDTV screen with the stunning images.

The Dark Knight exceeds limits of the so-called “comic-book” movie, ascending to the pinnacle of the genre, supplanting 1978’s Superman, the first real superhero movie of the modern age.

The follow-up to Batman Begins is so much more than the story of the war between Batman (Christian Bale) and the Joker (the late Heath Ledger, turning in an Oscar-worthy performance). Nolan has focused the source material into a brilliant morality play about the struggle between democracy and terrorism.

Warner decided to have some fun subtly working these motifs into the packaging. The outer sleeve is pretty normal, while the inner case art has been altered with Joker-esque graffiti. It’s a neat touch that helps set the tone for the themes of duality explored in the film.

As far as extras go, the two-DVD special-edition should keep fans happy, but it is woefully inadequate compared to the Blu-ray version.

None of the versions includes a commentary, which is unfortunate, but the Blu-ray version offers optional “focus points,” presented as insightful behind-the-scenes featurettes that can be played when prompted during the film, or separately.

The Blu-ray also includes two very good made-for-cable documentaries about Batman — one covering his technology, the other dealing with the psychology of the character and his enemies.

The DVD version is offered with no extras on the movie disc. The second disc of the special-edition DVD includes a handful of the “focus points” featurettes, and offers isolated versions of the six Imax scenes presented in the proper aspect ratio.

Just for fun, both the Blu-ray and DVD special editions include a few “Gotham Tonight” faux-news clips that further explore the world within the film. Noticeably absent are a few of the viral videos used to promote the movie.

That’s probably just the tip of the iceberg of a wealth of material out there that can be used for a future boxed set.

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