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 the three 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.
Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight
- Lt James Gordon
No matter how good a movie is, I never watched it more than once on the big screen. Perhaps I like to enjoy it again in the comfort of my own home or rather the chance to relish the so-called good points of the movie after a span of say, six months to prove that my initial opinion of it stays. In the case of "The Dark Knight", I have the chance to re-evaluate it again, this time on the Blu-ray disc.
Crossing the US$1 billion mark at the box-office, "The Dark Knight" was both a critical success and the #1 profit generating movie of all time. The untimely demise of Heath Ledger no doubt adds to the curiosity of the audience but it’s the wicked edgy script by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan that pushed the character of Batman and his nemesis, the Joker to the limits.
By the end of "Batman Begins", we knew Batman is going to meet the Joker next. What we didn’t know is how the character of Joker is going to be portrayed. It’s no longer the Jack Nicholson’s cheesy version but a psychotic yet brilliant character (cleverly performed by Ledger) that complements Christian Bale’s tortured Batman. Ledger’s Joker is not motivated by money, fame or women. He taut, prey, traps and lure his victims slowly along the way including Gotham’s white knight, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and Batman. As what Alfred says, the Joker just wants to watch the world burn.
Nolan patiently develops the various characters throughout the 150 minutes running time (and you are talking about a summer blockbuster). Even Lt James Gordon (Gary Oldman), Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Mrs Tom Cruise), Alfred (Michael Caine) and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) are given enough development and lines for audience to take a liking to despite their limited screentime. The opening prologue involving a bank heist, Batman flying over the night skies of Hong Kong, a rousing car chase on the streets of Chicago and a huge hospital blow-up are there to ignite your adrenalin. Strangely this is the only summer blockbuster that I feel works well even without that many action pieces. Deep down, you want more of the confrontation between Batman and Joker. The mesmerizing execution is priceless to the senses.
In addition, the new comer to the franchise, Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent brings a new dimension to the story, a man with a vision to wipe off every scum off the surface of Gotham. While Sam Raimi’s "Spider Man 3" was a clumsy attempt in showing off the ultimate villain Venom to the fans, Nolan crafted yet another villainous character to the already crowded plotting, a character that deserves our empathy and his actions towards the end seem the more justify.
"The Dark Knight" succeeds on the level of yet another comic adaptation movie, "Iron Man". Everything here is rooted in reality although it’s supposedly based on fantasy. Nolan personally wanted this sequel to be on a much bigger scale than its predecessor and of course the million dollars production didn’t disappoint with much of the elements shot on location and accomplished using physical effects rather than visual effects.
In an ironic twist to fate, the Joker mentioned in the movie that Batman completes him. But we all know Ledger’s Joker won’t be back in the next instalment. While Christian Slater’s Bruce Wayne was the pillar of "Batman Begins", Ledger truly was the soul of "The Dark Knight". Like Batman, "The Dark Knight" upset the established order that comic adaptations can never reach the standards of other respected genres. Nolan proves otherwise. And we simply can’t wait what he’s going to unleash next.
Disc One contains the feature film and also the option to watch the movie with focus points, features that can be accessed while watching the movie. Personally I prefer to watch the features at one go rather with disruptions. The various behind-the-scene featurettes include Nolan and his crew using the cumbersome IMAX cameras, flying stunt and car stunts staging, the construction of the Batpod and the new Batman costume and many more.
There are also BD-Live features available which honestly doesn’t interest me at all. Supposedly you are able to create your own profile with a personalized avatar and your own video commentary track.
Disc Two contains:
Batman Tech: The Incredible Gadgets and Tools (HD) - This 46 minutes long feature touches on the gadgets and tools used by Batman. Interestingly, some of the amazing inventions can be found in reality.
Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight": Delve into the psyche of Bruce Wayne and the world of "Batman" through real-world psychotherapy (HD) - Another 46 minutes feature that details the psychological behaviors of various Batman comic characters such as the Joker and Batman himself.
Six clips from the Gotham Cable's premier newscast "Tonight in Gotham" -
Fake newscast that runs at almost 46 minutes again. Be warned it can get a bit tiresome, it didn’t really add additional icing on the cake purely fun stuff.
The Blu-ray disc is round up with trailers, tv spots and a gallery of conceptual arts, poster art etc.
Disc Three contains a standard-definition digital copy of the film which you can download to your PC, laptop or mobile device.
Warner Bros might be going for a beef-up edition closer to the release of the third instalment as most of the features here are pure fillers with the exception of the focus points on Disc One. The director commentary track is also surprisingly left out.
In high definition, the visual transfer is excellent though at certain junctures, the dark moody night scenes appear to be slightly soft. The Blu-ray disc presents the IMAX shot sequences (the opening bank heist, the flying over HK night skies for instance) in its original format, 1.78:1 while the rest in 2.40:1. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is the default setup here although Dolby TrueHD is also available. The surround is strong and dialogue is clear for an action movie. The visual transfer and audio is top notch for this Warner release. If I have one qualm, it’s the jarring Joker theme composed by Hans Zimmer. It gets on your nerves but you can’t really put the blame on Zimmer either, the man did his job.
Review by Linus Tee