Early DVD Review: The Dark Knight 2 Disc Special Edition

7492685 Early DVD Review: The Dark Knight 2 Disc Special Edition

Lets get this out of the way first, The Dark Knight more than lives up to the hype. It’s beautifully filmed, extremely well-acted and edited, and its a thrilling experience from start to finish. It has shades of great crime dramas like Heat and Goodfellas, but it’s still a superhero film, so comparing it to others in the same genre seems more apt to me. It even makes Iron Man (which was a fine, entertaining film) look weak. It’s amazing what a talented director, a great screenplay, and invested A-list actors can do for essentially a film about a guy dressed as a bat beating the snot out of a psychotic clown. It’s a near masterwork that approaches Shakespeare in scope and tragedy. All credit to writer/director Christopher Nolan for taking Batman to the next level. Heath Ledger is simply magnicificant as The Joker. He’s funny and menacing, a feat that an over the top Jack Nicholson could never pull off in Tim Burton’s amateur hour Batman. I liked Batman at the time, but that was many years ago. Licking his lips like an escaped mental patient, and constantly telling “stories” about the origin of his scars (shades of The Killing Joke), we don’t know who The Joker really is or where he came from. We just know that he’s an “agent of chaos” and for a while he’s definitely winning.

Batman (a perfectly cast Christian Bale) is dealing with a media that doesn’t particularly like him and the idea of escalation, picking up right where the first film left off. A psychotic new villain is on the scene who calls himself The Joker (who leaves a calling card behind after his crimes) is cutting a path of death and destruction through Gotham. He wants to bring Batman out of the shadows and turn him into a monster. Meanwhile, the crusading new DA Harvey Dent (a very good Aaron Eckhart) teams up with Gordon and Batman to stop him. Dent has a relationship going with Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), an old flame of Bruce Wayne’s from the first film. Despite this, Bruce Wayne starts to believe in Harvey Dent and hopes one day that Batman is no longer needed. Bruce Wayne gets able support from Alfred (Michael Caine) and Lucius Fox (a witty Morgan Freeman). It’s no fair going into detail, the dazzling twists and tragic turns deserve to be seen on a big screen and minus any spoilers. Heath Ledger should (and probably will) get an Oscar nomination for his chilling work, but the entire ensemble is terrific. All the actors step up and invest their characters with an intensity deserving of such an epic film. The propulsive and excellent score from Hans Zimmer and James Newtown-Howard mixes orchestra with pounding electronica and even some hints of industrial rock. The editing and pacing are tighter than a fashion model’s washboard abs. The action scenes are clearer and more lucid than those in Batman Begins.

The Dark Knight looks and sounds magnificent on DVD. The transfer is clear and sharp and the dark film looks amazing. The extras are a tad disappointing though. The best featurette runs just over 6 minutes in length and concerns Hans Zimmer and his score for the film, and The Joker in particular. The longer featurette has the voices of director Chris Nolan and the actors but no interviews and is of little interest. The IMAX action scenes are also presented as an extra and that was a cool idea but there’s no commentary from director Nolan or any real behind the scenes information to be gleamed from the disappointing extras. Two cable specials were not included on the standard DVD and are only available on the blu ray disc, and that is totally unacceptable.

The Dark Knight is a true treat for comic book and non-comic book superhero fans alike. It’s a thrilling exercise in good versus evil on a grand scale. If it falls short of a masterpiece, it’s still an amazing experience. The DVD is far from perfect, but the film is excellent. Fans of the Batman comics will take issue with the changes to comic book lore, but will be enthralled all the same. Now that the Spidey series has crashed and burned (for the moment), this is the best series of comic book films of all time. People will see it over and over and dissect it like an Emo dissecting lyrics of the latest Evanescence song while reading their Twilight novel. The minor quibbles (an overlong subplot here and there) are overshadowed by an amazing Heath Ledger performance and the best live-action depiction yet of Harvey Dent in the films (sorry Billy Dee Williams and Tommy Lee Jones). In a way, Dent’s story arc is the heart of the film. It’s a somber theme that heroes (if they live long enough) are destined to be seen as villains and it runs throughout the film. Despite a few flaws, this ambitious and sprawling epic pulses with life and feeling and The Dark Knight is the best film of the year so far.

Film Grade: A-

DVD Grade: B-

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