In "Batman Begins," Christopher Nolan managed to do what few directors could do -- create a dark, gritty atmosphere around an all-too-human Batman, who fights for the oppressed with quiet intensity.
That moody murk is only intensified in the breathtaking, harrowing "Dark Knight," which fills itself with blasts of action, psychological twists and a shocking tragedy. Nolan pulls no punches for our dark knight or his ever-endangered Gotham City, but brilliant acting of the hero and villains is what truly elevates the second of Nolan's Batman movies to a work of cinematic art.
Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) is continuing to fight the good fight for Gotham, even when he gets hurt in a fight against Scarecrow and some Batman impersonators.
So unsurprisingly, he's is feeling fairly in his crimefighting abilities, especially since the new DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is a morally-upright good-guy. But Batman isn't prepared for the Joker (Heath Ledger) a mad clownish psychopath who has hired himself out to the mob to destroy their worst enemy, the Dark Knight. He starts blackmailing Batman by killing Gotham citizens, and saying he won't stop until Batman turns himself in.
But even when captured, the Joker has an ace up his sleep -- Dent and Rachel Dawes' (Maggie Gyllenhaal) lives. And after a devastating loss, Batman finds himself dealing with the Joker taking all of Gotham hostage, and the maddened and disfigured Dent bringing vigilante justice to all those whom he thinks have wronged him. Only Batman has a chance of stopping even one of them -- let alone both -- but doing so may tarnish the Dark Knight forever.
Most directors would have given this movie a distinctly comic-book, slick pop-culture feel. But no matter how hard you search, there's not a single hint in "The Dark Knight" that anything kitschy or campy came before it, or that it was originally a comic book. Instead Christopher Nolan creates a movie as dark, tightly-wound and intense as Batman himself.
And Nolan's skills are even more polished this time around -- lots of kinetic action, vicious dogs and car chases, including the rather silly-looking Batpod and the tanklike Batmobile. The dialogue is drizzled with dry humor ("That isn't exactly what I had in mind when I said I wanted to inspire people"," Batman says, looking at a bunch of impersonators), mostly to temper the overhanging sense of horror and apprehension.
This is especially true whenever the Joker's corrosive presence is onscreen, since he's all too happy to stick pointy objects in people -- he's creepier than a thousand boogeymen. And Nolan is not afraid to further darken the storyline by inflicting yet another personal tragedy on Batman. His direction is painfully delicate as he explores Wayne's sorrow and guilt.
But the most striking aspect of "The Dark Knight" is Nolan's delvings into morality -- The Joker has none and Dent's becomes horribly perverted, but we're reminded that there are some who will not be corrupted even if they lose what is most precious. It's almost a doom'n'gloom movie, but the faint hints of optimism and hope keep it from being TOO overwhelmingly dark.
Christian Bale is simply perfection as Bruce Wayne/Batman, using his handsomely chiseled face and piercing eyes to best advantage -- even in the most tragic scenes, where you can practically see Wayne's soul bleeding. And he has a difficult character to wrangle with -- not only does he have to expose Batman's pain and struggles, but also his inner incorruptibility.
On the flipside, the late Heath Ledger is blindingly brilliant as the sadistic, creepy, gleefully malign Joker, and he chews the scenery as few actors could. He's pretty spine-chilling, actually -- the Joker is a true "agent of chaos," whose intent is to seize Gotham, and corrupt Batman's soul along the way.
There's also a solid (and underrated) supporting cast -- Eckhart is outstanding as an upstanding DA whose morality becomes horribly perverted (along with his handsome face), Gyllenhaal has a solid role that she plays well, and Michael Caine is a quiet, steady flame as the ever-faithful, dryly sardonic Alfred.
"The Dark Knight" is suffused with darkness and some truly ghastly villains, but the magnificent acting and dryly witty script are what really make this a masterpiece. Utterly astounding -- and promises better yet to come.
on December 11, 2008
...and let`s talk specifically about the DVD
I love the movie and i would pretty much buy any cool merchandise about it, but that`s not the case
I got this 2 disc special edition, and i can say i feel pretty ripped off
This is sure 2 disc, but in no way "special" or collector driven
They`re selling the bluray and the DVD as the same thing, with the same cover, but they`re not, which doesn`t mean the bluray version is awesome and full of features, just that the dvd version is really, really cheap.
The first disc comes with the movie and nothing more, nada, no audio commentary whatsoever
On the second disc we get the imax scenes (which i saw on imax theater and was truly amazed, at home they just feel full screen)
A 18 part feature about the movie gets cut down to 2 in the dvd (one is actually 2 or 3 from the bluray compiled) but they are about 6 to 10 minutes each, they are pretty interesting, but even all the 18 in the bluray are not more then 1 hour to watch.
The other features in the extras disc(which come on the second bluray disc) are pretty much content that were already all over the internet when the movie came out: the gotham tonight news, two documentaries from History channel and a gallery with trailers and posters (tv spots, production stills, concept art and the joker cards added to the bluray). And that`s about it, you never see the actors out of their roles talking about the movie and neither anything about Ledger`s incredible work on the Joker. Oh yeah, and they spend some disc space on your digital copy.
As much as it`s pretty clear that Warner is trying to make you get the bluray version by cutting down the features on the dvd, the bluray version is not really special either as it comes with what a regular 2 disc dvd would come.
I obviously can`t say for sure, but i would assume that warner is probably preparing another (ultimate) version to make you spend more money after you buy this for Christmas.
I know if you are a Batman fan as i am, this will not stop you from buying the dvd nor the bluray (which i also did) just know that you are getting into a piece of marketing practice very, very dark indeed.
on January 1, 2009
Living up to its hype, Nolan delivers a dark knight that's the closest so far to Frank Miller's 1980s re-imagining of the caped crusader. It also incorporates elements of more recent noir style Batman graphic novels such as the Long Halloween and Dark Victory, with their mixing together of super-villains and mafia gangsters. Nolan's Batman is darker than Burton's 1989 version and lives in a very real looking Gotham City, a far cry from the fantastic art deco monstrosities of the earlier film. Adding to its realism is Nolan's restraint with the use of special effects, with those included merging very nicely with live action shots. The opening shots of a group of masked men robbing a bank was closer to a Scorsese film or Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon than a superhero blockbuster. Heath Ledger's Joker is a true psychopath and agent of chaos, his performance creating a very believable and scary master criminal. Aaron Eckhardt plays against type as the crusading Harvey Dent aka Two Face. Gary Oldham as Jim Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred, and Maggie Gyllenhall as Rachel Dawes all put in solid performances. The Joker's musings about the hypocrisy of the general populace about hero worship is only partly refuted by events in the film - there is a difference between masked vigilantes and vicious criminals, but it's not as clear as the typical teenage comic-book fan might think. My only complaint was that the fight sequences in the last half hour or so of the film were so darkly lit, frantic, and jumbled together that it wasn't always possible to figure out what was going on. Just when I thought Iron Man was the best superhero film!
on October 14, 2008
Please note: This is an update of my original review from back in October. Now that the DVD is out, I wanted to include my review of that also. My 5 stars is for the movie itself, the DVD however I give 2 stars, and that is aimed at the special features (or lack thereof). But more of that in a minute, first is my review of The Dark Knight.
Finally - a movie that not only lives up to the hype, but actually surpasses it. What a great movie. I found it very entertaining all the way through, it was never boring, and just when you think you have time to take a breath, you're off again! This movie had everything you could possible want in a good film - great characters, a terrific story, stunning cinematography, and a soundtrack that is haunting, powerful, and emotionally psychotic. I really can't think of anything about The Dark Knight that I didn't like. I have seen it a few times, it's just one of those movies that I don't think I'll ever get tired of watching.
As the Joker, Heath Ledger was captivating, and gave the performance of his life in The Dark Knight. When he was on screen you couldn't take your eyes off him, and you were always on edge because you never knew just what the Joker was going to do next. Heath put everything he had into making this role his own, adding all the little antics, expressions and mannerisms that actually made his character fun to watch. There was a lot of talk about Heath's incredible performance in The Dark Knight, BEFORE he died, so for anyone to say that this movie was hyped just because of the death of Heath Ledger, it is completely inaccurate. He earned every bit of praise and recognition that he is getting for this film, and not out of sympathy, but because he truly deserved it. Although Heath's character was a major role, and absolutely stole the movie, all the other actors were terrific as well, and I wasn't disappointed with any of the performances that they delivered.
So many times I have gone to see a movie expecting great things, and then come away feeling let down. This didn't happen with The Dark Knight. It was everything I was expecting, and even more. The DVD however, left alot to be desired. Disc #2 didn't have much to offer in the way of extras. There were no behind the scenes documentries, no specials on how the movie was made, or how they filmed the special effects, no cast interviews, nothing. It might have been nice to see a blooper segment, or out-takes, deleted scenes, but again there was nothing. Of all the DVD's I have purchased in the past, the best value I got for my money was the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Each one of those DVD's had HOURS of extras, including all the interviews and documentries, there was so much to see, everything that you could possibly want in special features, and I was hoping that with The Dark Knight being such a huge movie, we would see something similar on the second disc. Instead, it was a let-down. Perhaps, as some people are suggesting, Warner Brothers might release another DVD, a Directors Cut or extended version of the movie, with lots more extras than there are on this release, and if that's true, then we will have to go out and spend more money again if we want to own it. The special features on this DVD do nothing to compliment or support what was and still is a great movie.
My final comments on the film itself - I hope that the next Batman movie can live up to this one, because The Dark Knight will be pretty hard to top. There was enough action, drama, adventure, emotion, and the occasional comic relief, just enough of everything to make it a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. I haven't seen a movie like this in a long time, and certainly not one that I have enjoyed so much. Kudo's to Chris Nolan, the cast and crew, and last but not least, Heath Ledger. He had an amazing talent that will be truly missed.
on January 12, 2011
Picture Quality: 10/10
Audio Quality: 10/10
Note: you only receive one disk. That is, the special features on disk 2 on other non-steelbook editions is not included. However, disk one contains a bit of hd features related to the making of certain scenes. This was very good.
The picture quality is perfect. Many scenes are shown as full screen while others contain the usual black bars we have become so use to. Christopher Nolan used IMAX (highest resolution in a camera possible)cameras in most of the action scenes, hence the full screen.
****My copy was factory sealed, as all would be I assume. However, after first viewing I noticed a scratch on the disk. My player is new and I am pretty sure I did not scratch it. So just check the disk before you play it to make sure. Blu-ray disks are 5 times harder to scratch than a regular DVD, so I am not so sure that I caused the scratch. But playback is still perfect.****
The STEELBOOK is really nice. It arrived in perfect and undented condition. For fans of steelbooks, this one is great. Also, it does not contain the blu-ray banner on top most movies which is nice. It contains the same artwork as per the amazon video of the product.
Can't wait for Dark Knight Rises, which will also be shot in IMAX.
on December 10, 2008
Never have I went to the movies and actually been so engrossed in storytelling of any kind. The Dark Knight changed that. I watched it twice at the theaters. Now I can watch it again and again.
Production value is near perfection on all fronts of movie making. So close in fact, I actually believe there is a Batman roaming around fighting crime somewhere in the world.
The Blueray Disc is a must buy. If you dont have this in your collection go out and get right away!
on March 22, 2016
I concur with Hugo's review on this release. I too was in awe of Heath Ledgers performance, and I'm not a fan really of super hero movies. The first one was fun, and gave depth to the background of the caped crusader. But The Dark Knight to me touches on so much more in regards to politics, and social morals and ethics. Sure, it's still a fun, action packed movie. But has this fascinating depth to it that will make it last for generations. So I too was hoping for more with this set as to the driving force that made this movie beyond the typical, and was sadly let down. The extras are interesting, and give insight on the painstaking measures primarily of developing the 'Bat Bike' to become a actual working motorcycle. And the slew of 'Gotham Tonight' segments show the attention to detail and commitment the crew and actors put in for an otherwise minor part of the movie. But I was so hoping to hear if Nolan had it all in mind beforehand, and/or what did the others bring to it that helped shape it. What were the actors thoughts and feelings on the certain scenarios. And maybe some insight to some trivia and obscure details. I myself didn't know that Heath's scene as the Joker outside of the hospital trying to make it explode was improvised due to a special effects delay until I saw it on a You Tube clip. But none of that is touched upon in this set. Maybe in time, more will be revealed with a anniversary edition or gift set. But if you're like me, wanting as much poop on this great movie as you can get - this set is merely a loud fart that raises the eyebrows slightly.
on January 19, 2012
I'm totally satisfied with this purchase. To start things off, the steel-book case is fantastically built and looks great. No complaints here. Of course, if you've seen The Dark Knight prior to ordering this Blu-Ray, you already know that this film is a major achievement in movie making. It's a thrill ride that never lets up, weaving an intricate story that not only exceeds expectations when looked at as a comic book movie, but is absolutely exceptional in its own right. This Blu-Ray is currently the best looking movie I own. Its breathtaking really. I noticed no issues of quality in either the audio or video departments. Everything looks and sounds just as you'd like it to. My only complaint regarding this overall package has to due with the special features, or lack thereof. There's not too much on offer here, especially if one is not connected with BD-Live (make sure you are). There are a few making-of videos which serve their purpose just fine, but I was quite surprised to see that there was absolutely no director's commentary available for viewing. Log into BD-Live however, and you'll be treated to a bevy of commentaries by various people involved in the making of The Dark Knight such as David S. Goyer. Look, the special features aren't atrocious by any means. The special features that exist are interesting and surely worth watching, but the special features that are oddly missing in action, namely a director's commentary, are somewhat disappointing. The verdict for special features then, is that they are enjoyable, but there should have been more content. Its not outrageous, but it is noteworthy. Nevertheless, I'm giving this purchase a perfect 5/5 stars because Blu-Ray is the best way to watch such an incredible movie in your own household. Tack on the wonderful steel-book casing, and this product is hard to resist. If you consider yourself a fan, pick this up immediately! You won't regret it.
on September 24, 2011
Sometimes the second one just doesn't meet the expectations you have from the hit the first one was; but not this time! This is a sequel to be seen, not just hear about. The action is great, the characters are outlandish, and the star is a star! From beginning to end you have no idea what will happen next, because, let's face it, Heath Ledger as the Joker is the best casting job I have ever seen in any film. He kept you on the edge of your seat as he hatched one diabolical scheme after another. And the makeup was amazing. Christian Bale, of course, does not disappoint, along side, of course Michael Caine as Alfred. The only small downfall is the recasting of Rachel. I am not sure what they were going with, but the new Rachel was not the same one that boldly went into the narrows to save Gotham in number one. This one was wimpy and indecisive, and seemed afraid of her own shadow. But, she had a smaller part in this one and she did not detract from the entire show. I don't want to give away any plot secrets because this is a must see sequel!
Batman and the Gotham City police have had their hands full trying to take down the mob and now there's a new villain, a grotesquely scarred and made-up madman called the Joker.
This is a superhero movie that isn't cartoonish or childish; it's complex and intense and thoroughly enjoyable. Heath Ledger plays the deranged Joker with frightening delight and I couldn't take my eyes off him. Even though the movie was well over two hours long, I wanted more time with the Joker. Ledger really found his niche as a super-villain. Christian Bale is fine, if somewhat bland, as Batman, while Aaron Eckhart shines as the heroic district attorney. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a disappointing love interest for both Batman and the DA; she has no appeal whatever. It's fun to see Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman as Batman's confidants; their scenes are riveting.
The story moves at breakneck speed with lots of subplots, a huge cast of characters, and explosions and killings aplenty. The script is literate and even noble and it really is the best Batman movie I've seen. Highly recommended.