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Dark Knight Rises, The (Blu-ray Review)

30 Nov, 2012 By: John Latchem

Street 12/4/12
Box Office $448.04 million
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray combo
$38.99 three-DVD trilogy set, $52.99 five-disc BD trilogy set
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.
Stars Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman.

There is no doubt that Christopher Nolan has elevated the genre of the comic book movie beyond the confines of mere action spectacles. His Dark Knight Trilogy is so rich in texture and dense with meaning that it’s more apt to associate his films with the comic book’s more mature offshoot, the graphic novel.

With his three Batman epics, Nolan has been able to present the superhero film as a character piece more than any other director who has taken on the category (not that more than a handful of such films would be in the conversation anyway).

Nolan also remains true to the source material. Longtime Batman enthusiasts will likely recognize several storylines from the comics adapted in The Dark Knight Rises. The primary influences seem to be The Dark Knight Returns, in which an aging Bruce Wayne decides to return as Batman to protect the city from a new threat; Knightfall, which introduced Bane as a masked mercenary who breaks Batman’s back in hand-to-hand combat; and No Man’s Land, in which a series of disasters cuts Gotham off from the outside world.

The fact that Nolan and his team managed to craft a coherent narrative from these disparate chapters while at the same time connecting them to the ongoing story arcs from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight is an amazing achievement that provides a satisfying and emotionally impactful conclusion to the trilogy.

In fact, any viewers who pick up the animated adaptations of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns will notice several similarities to Nolan’s series.

The Dark Knight Rises on Blu-ray is defined by beautiful effects work and cinematography by Wally Pfister, fresh off winning an Oscar for his work on Nolan’s Inception. The film changes aspect ratios at times to reflect scenes shot in the larger Imax ratio. The action scenes are easy to follow, culminating in a thrilling final act involving a street brawl with thousands of extras on a scale seldom seen in films today without the use of clunky CGI.

The highlight of the Blu-ray bonus features is the hourlong documentary The Batmobile, which examines the evolution of Batman’s car through comic books, the 1960s TV show and the films. This is a fun piece that any Batman fan will get a kick out of, but its pairing with Dark Knight Rises is rather ironic since this is the first Batman movie that doesn’t technically have a “Batmobile” in it (though he has other vehicles at his disposal).

Other than that, the extras, while plentiful, consist mostly of rather perfunctory production featurettes lumped together under the heading “Ending the Knight.” The best of these are the ones that focus on the three main characters: Batman (Christian Bale), Bane (Tom Hardy) and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). Pittsburgh Steelers fans will get a kick out of the “Gameday Destruction” featurette, which focuses on the filming that took place at Heinz Field with a handful of extras in the crowd and real Steelers players on the field.

The disc also offers second-screen functionality, presenting additional content through a free downloadable app that also lets users take special Batman-themed photos or make a video with a tumbler tank in it.

About the Author: John Latchem

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