The biggest film of 2008 arrives on Blu-ray and DVD this December 9th, and Cinematical is here to share our initial impressions, likes and dislikes, as well as let you know whether this monster piece of home entertainment is worth the purchase. Perhaps time will tell if The Dark Knight is the best comic book movie ever made, but in the meantime it's fairly easy to declare it the best comic book movie of 2008. Director Christopher Nolan and his team of Bat-freaks brought out the bigger guns for this sequel, adding more explosions, more depth, more darkness and more Gotham. The result is an action-packed psychological salad full of delicious performances and fantastic visuals.

In fact, that's exactly why you'll want to own this thing -- it just looks ... so ... good. On the Blu-ray disc, for example, the film alternates between aspect ratios, showing the IMAX-filmed scenes in 1.78:1, and the rest in 2.40:1. Sure, it's a bit different than watching it on a seven-story screen, but the IMAX sequences (in particular the opening bank heist) will no doubt take your television hostage and seduce every inch of your geek-obsessed body. Is it somewhat annoying to dance between two aspect ratios during the film? Not really, except that you'll wish the entire saga was shot with IMAX cameras. If you haven't yet watched a flick on Blu-ray, do yourself a favor and pop your HD cherry on The Dark Knight.

Now follow us after the jump for more ...

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From Cinematical's Review of The Dark Knight

"Some say "Scorsesian" and others reference Michael Mann. Many spend paragraphs on the (truly amazing) penultimate performance by Heath Ledger, while others will revel in the grown-up tone or epic scope of the film. What amazed me most about The Dark Knight, among several things, is that the flick's got more layers than an onion farm -- and yet it never loses touch with the idea of FUN. True that we're talking about a comic book fun that's decidedly more melancholy than the cinematic exploits of The Marvel Gang, but dang if TDK isn't supremely satisfying for about a dozen different reasons.

Plot-wise, this film is a dense and somewhat twisted affair, so I'll leave the specifics for you to discover and I'll just focus on the big picture. And here it is: A maniacal super-villain known as The Joker has brought all of Gotham's criminals together for one key goal: Kill Batman. To say that there's a LOT more to the plot (both the surface story and the more subtle ideas) would be a stunning understatement, but it's a long series of plot threads that are best enjoyed by watching, and not by reading in a wordy plot synopsis." -- Scott Weinberg [Read More]


Gotham Uncovered - Creation of a Scene
Director Christopher Nolan and creative collaborators unmask the incredible detail and planning behind the film, including stunt staging, filming in IMAX®, and the new Bat-suit and Bat-pod.

On the Blu-ray disc, there's roughly 18 separate mini-featurettes which focus on all different aspects of making the film -- like shooting the bank heist in IMAX, the hospital explosion, creating the new Bat-suit and Bat-pod, filming the chase, the Hong Kong sequences and much, much more. You have the option to watch the film with these turned on, in which case a little symbol pops up on the screen for you click through and over to the optional featurette. You can also wait till after the film (like I did) and watch them then. Some highlights for me were The Joker's Score with Hans Zimmer talking about how he came up with the music for the Joker, creating a number of different test scores (some using razor blades on piano wire) which Christopher Nolan listened to during his flight over to Hong Kong. The IMAX chase sequence is also a fun watch, and you'll get to hear (and see) them talk about the one (out of four in the world) IMAX camera that was destroyed when one car crashed into another.

Other Notable Blu-ray Features:

  • Batman Tech – The incredible gadgets and tools (in HD)
  • Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight – Delve into the psyche of Bruce Wayne and the world of Batman through real-world psychotherapy (in HD)
  • Gotham Tonight – 6 episodes of Gotham Cable's premier news program (also on DVD)
  • The Galleries – The Joker cards, concept art (Joker's henchmen, Bat-suit), poster art, production stills, trailers and TV spots
  • Digital Copy of the Feature Film
  • Warner Bros. BD-Live™, which allows users with web-enabled Blu-ray players to access exciting additional content and connect and share with other BD-Live users.
Nerdy Specs:

Languages: English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, & Spanish
Running Time: 153 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and some menace)
DLBY TRUEHD (Blu-ray) DLBY/DGTL (Standard Disc) [CC]

The Final Word:

While the film looks absolutely beautiful (especially on Blu-ray), unfortunately the special features are nothing to write home about. Instead of a full commentary, we get these small featurettes which are interesting, don't get me wrong, but they probably won't satisfy the cravings of you commentary junkies out there. And don't even get me started on the second disc, which boasts two History Channel-esque documentaries that go over a lot of the same content featured in those other featurettes. Sure, "The Psychology of The Dark Knight" certainly has its moments, and does some fun things like animate comic book frames, but it doesn't give the hardcore (and casual) fans what they really want: More Joker.

In fact (and I may be wrong about this), I don't think Heath Ledger is mentioned by name once. Not once. What we could've used is a featurette on casting, a featurette on Becoming Two Face or Becoming The Joker. I would've liked to see them delve deeper into these characters and the actors who played them -- for them to talk to the entire cast, and not just Christian Bale. Obviously Warners is planning to double dip this ship, and I'm sure we'll all bite, but I'm allowed to be disappointed when the biggest (and most anticipated) DVD of the year lacks in the extras department.

The film itself, however, looks stunning. And because of that, I will whole-heartedly recommend checking this sucker out when it hits stores on December 9.


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categories Features, Dvds, Cinematical