By: The Dweeb
The most anticipated film (and highest grossing) of the year has finally made its debut onto the home video market. Batman The Dark Knight, the sequel to the rebooted franchise film had garnered such hype that there was no way it could live up to the early expectations. The critics were proved wrong, and I was giddy as a school girl as director Christopher Nolan was able to create one of the greatest, darkest super hero films of all time and goes above and beyond the hype (a rare feat!). Not only was it ground breaking, it takes this genre to a whole new level. Warner Bros. knows this, and should have made its DVD and Blu-ray companion match the high bar that it has set to make it worth the wait, alas this may not be the case.
It is one of the few times I sat through a two and half hour film and was left wanting more. The intensity, the drama, the action sequences give us a true look at the real Batman, the embodiment of a dark alter ego, not some schmuck dressed in a suit with nipples. He’s flawed, gritty, and answers to no one except to what is right and just. Nolan is able to take the mythos of the indestructible Dark Knight, and make him human again. He brings out the internal struggle of walking the fine line, as Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) says “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
The tone and pacing of the movie grabs you right from the opening scene and doesn’t let go. You will quickly find yourself getting sucked into the story and characters, and when you think the film is reaching its end it just keeps going. Normally I hate that, but here it just becomes an added bonus. They probably could have cut a lot of that stuff out and it would have become just an average film. By expanding the film, it allows us to see more into these characters and their struggles and making for a complete story arc that does not seem disjointed. Besides, watching Batman kick ass more on screen makes it better, not worse! The one thing that really permeates throughout the film is the tension, coupled with the soundtrack it almost becomes unbearable. Its the ever present spirit of The Joker (Heath Ledger) who is mentally unglued in sound form, so simple yet it fits perfectly. Even when he’s not in the scene, its always there lurking around the corner, taunting your ears. It just turns the knob up on this movie, by the time its over you are spent mentally.
What carries this film, and yes it is true, is The Joker portrayed by the late Heath Ledger. If this guy does not get nominated for an Oscar this year there will be hell to pay. He is truly mesmerizing with this performance, the reinterpretation of this character into a perverted, homicidal maniac is spine tingly, creepy and brings him down to a level more human than cartoony. You could almost see the mental suffering through the maniacal laughter. He steals every moment he is on screen from his disappearing pencil trick to his short stint as a hospital nurse. He truly is Batman’s greatest nemesis. Unfortunately because of his untimely passing, we will never see another great performance like this again, but at least he will always be remembered for this role. Jack Nicholson, I’m sorry but you’ll just have to step aside now.
The rest of the cast is largely back, with the exception of Maggie Gyllenhaal playing Rachel Dawes. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne doesn’t seem as energetic as in the first film, more tired looking really. Like the job of staying up all night every night beating people is starting to wear on him. My only complaint is his Batman voice, a bit too growly sounding even when talking to people who know who he is. Michael Caine brings his usual sophistication and wit to the Alfred role, he is really likeable as this character as well as Morgan Freeman as Lucious Fox. Like two fathers who know what their son is up to at night. It was fun to witness the transformation of Harvey Dent into Two Face, played brilliantly as well by Aaron Eckhart. Somehow The Joker is able to turn the tables on both him and Batman, and create monsters out of the good guys. **Spoiler** It was a gutsy move for Nolan and writer David Goyer to kill off Rachel in order to crack Dent mentally to bring out Two Face.
There are a few DVD versions out there, plus the Blu-ray of course. This is the Special Edition version, and somehow I get the feeling that the features on here are barely scratching the surface. As if all the good stuff is on the Blu-ray, which is not surprising I suppose. But there is still plenty of stuff on the second disc, including a digital copy. I suspect thats taking up all the room on there hence the limited extra material. There is a lengthy look at the new bat suit, the music of the film and the design of the Bat Pod. Included are the scenes filmed in IMAX although you won’t see much difference on a regular DVD, so it was sorta pointless. Also on there are some of the marketing campaign items such as the clips of Gotham Tonight, trailers and posters that came out before the movie. Its a decent collection of stuff but I wish they showed a bit more, its supposed to be a special edition right?
Like I said, Blu-ray is where its at with this movie, but if you don’t want to jump this DVD will do just fine, because frankly at this point you don’t have much choice.