The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 153 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.40:1, 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English/Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Music by: Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
Written by: Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 9, 2008
"Welcome to a world without rules"
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 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. Heath Ledger stars as archvillain THE JOKER, and Aaron Eckhart plays Dent. Maggie Gyllenhaal joins the cast as RACHEL DAWES. Returning from Batman Begins are Gary Oldman as Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred and Morgan Freeman as LUCIUS FOX.
When I saw Batman Begins I was captivated at the transformation of the character's theatrical identity. All of the previous incarnations seemed cartoon like by comparison. That is not to take anything away from them because they had their place but this was something different. This embodied the essence of the character both physically and mentally. I absolutely loved Christopher Nolan's portrait of Batman and thought that Christian Bale nailed it. One of my favorite scenes from the film is the ending when Gordon hands Batman the Joker's calling card and he says in his raspy voice I'll look into it. It's a relatively small thing but it not only provides some idea of what it to come but its just a really smooth way to segway into the sequel. Like most of you reading this I got my tickets for The Dark Knight and saw it when it opened. To say that it exceeded my expectations would be a bit of an understatement. It allowed the audience the chance to further examine the complex persona behind the man on both sides of the mask. Batman struggles not only against the mob but also has to deal with corruption within local law enforcement and city prosecutors. On top of that he must now contend with The Joker who is unlike anything he has dealt with previously. This isn't an overly complicated individual but his methodology is anything but simple. He is an anarchist who has no value system. His belief is that everyone is corruptible and that the one individual who consistently challenges that theory must constantly be put to the test. He is not in it for the money although he realizes that money is important to his cause. Batman remains the unsung hero for Gotham which is why Harvey Dent's emergence as the city's uncorruptible district attorney is so important. He is determined to rid Gotham of crime and corruption. Unlike Batman, he is the face of justice that can be identified with now and hopefully into the future. The hope is to send a message that criminal activity will no longer be tolerated and that it can be handled within the legal system. Batman and ally Jim Gordon put their faith in Harvey which makes him integral to the story and its eventual outcome.
This is easily the best action film of the year. It's an eclectic thriller and a fast paced action opus that is exactly what genre fans clamor for. It is my opinion that without the outstanding performance by the late Heath Ledger as The Joker the film would not have had the same impact. He took this character to a level not achieved by any other actor playing this type of villain in an action film. I am sure that I am not alone when I say that I appreciated his efforts. Christian Bale reprised the role of Bruce/Batman very well, although I found his use of Batman's gravelly voice to be a bit more pronounced here than in Batman Begins. For some reason I find Gary Oldman hard to swallow as Jim Gordon. He does much better in villainous roles. I guess I have seen him in that light too often. He is a fine actor and of course had no trouble handing the part. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine's presence adds an air of plausibility to the cast and trust to their characters. I am not sure that Maggie Gyllenaal was physically right for Rachel but she is clearly a better actress than Katie Holmes which is what counts. The action based sequences were top notch and the special effects were indicative of the type that we as fans have come to appreciate and expect from Batman. Christopher Nolan did a great job in living up to the expectations of this sequel. I loved it.
The rating is for sequences of violence and some menace.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Dark Knight comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.8 mbps.
This video presentation incorporates two different aspect ratios. When I saw it theatrically its AR was 2.40:1 however some of the film was shot using IMAX cameras which results in a 1.78:1 AR. Both have been integrated here with some scenes/sequences having one AR and the next the other. The result doesn't infringe upon fidelity or interrupt the visual flow of the movie in any way. In examining segments of each I honestly saw little difference in perceivable resolution although the IMAX segments seemed just a tad sharper to my eye. I also noticed several scenes that appeared artificially sharpened which resulted in a slight ringing or halo effect around objects. From what I have read many seem very concerned about this. I didn't find it objectionable as it is not deleterious to image quality but its presence is worth noting. This is a dark film (as it should be) and its ability to clearly render its elements under those conditions is essential to getting the most out of it. Well you can rest assured that this Blu-ray disc delivers some of the richest, deepest and velvety textured blacks that I have seen. The nighttime cityscapes looked breathtaking. Images are gradationally adept and three dimensionally depicted so that the long drawn skyline and buildings have seemingly infinite depth. Shadow detail was consistent and as good as I have seen. Images were crisp and sharp with exquisite definition and bold contrast. There were a few instances where I noticed that the picture appeared less definitively resolved but not to a point where I would say it softened. This was more than likely inherent and not encoding related. Colors were well delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stood out among the remaining spectrum colors used. Fleshtones were beautifully textured with subtle description and lifelike complexional depiction.
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is demonstration quality and is sure to please those who like to play their systems loud. This recording has wide dynamic range and boasts superlative clarity and high level detail that is truly impressive. Dialogue is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it reaches far into the room. It's located just slightly in front of the left/right speakers within the acoustic space it occupies in the soundfield. I never had any trouble distinguishing even the slightest changes in the pitch or inflection of voices. Front channel separation and imaging was excellent. This drew out both large and small sound elements and allowed their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable. The mix makes effective and often aggressive use of the surround channels to elongate the front soundstage and reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds of this demanding soundtrack. The listening position is submerged into a 360 degree web of sound that is sometimes riveting as it bombards the senses with a combination of well placed sound effects and musical ambience. This is a dynamically strong sound mix that utilizes low frequency effects to provide viscerally potent impact. Bass response is prodigious as it occasionally reaches seismic levels that will test the limits of lesser subwoofers. The LFE channel is mixed on the hot side which sometimes elicited deep bass punctuation on sounds where it may not have been necessary. I wouldn't call it distracting but it was noticeable. Having said that I am the first to admit that I love deep, clean, powerful bass and this track delivers it in spades. The final explosion that levels the hospital is incredible. Listen to how the long and how deep the bass resonates after the building collapses. Check out the final shot gun blast by the bank manager during the opening scene's bank robbery. There are many more where those came from. Bass heads are sure to appreciate this Blu-ray Disc.
Looking at this presentation as a whole I think it is a winner. I don't pretend to understand the need to artificially sharpen what already appears to be a high quality picture source. From what I saw it s effects are minimal and don't diminish an otherwise marvelous video presentation. The Dolby TrueHD sound is rewarding and definitely on par with what we as viewers were hoping for.
- HD) Gotham uncovered: Creating a scene - examines 18 sequences from the film, including several of the larger action based segments and dissects them
- Focus points: A PiP option of the above that can be accessed during playback of the film
- BD-Live enabled features - Access will be available by release day
Behind the story:
- (HD) Batman Tech - A look at the incredible gadgets used by Batman which are inspired by state of the art military technology
- (HD) Batman unmasked - Explore Bruce Wayne's psyche and the world of Batman
- (HD) Gotham Tonight - featuring Mike Engel (Anthony Michael Hall in character) 6 staged news features covering events and people of Gotham
- (HD) Galleries
- (HD) Trailers and more - 3 Dark Knight trailers and 6 TV spots
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc - Contains a standard definition version of the film that can be downloaded from a compatible PC to a portable playback device
The Dark Knight is probably the most anticipated Blu-ray Disc release of this year. We have all waited patiently and in just a few short weeks everyone's wait will be well rewarded. There are some who may not be completely satisfied with the video quality of this VC-1 encoding. Personally, any nits that I found to pick were far from detrimental to fidelity. This video presentation captured the essence of what I saw when I viewed this film theatrically and the results are excellent. The lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound is reference quality and is sure to thrill enthusiasts with its extended dynamics, high level detail and pulse elevating bass. I thought that the bonus content could have been a bit more comprehensive although Warner's press kit indicates that more content may be available via BD-Live when it becomes available. This is their first title to offer BD-Live access so we will have to wait and see. For genre fans this disc is a must have plain and simple. Recommended.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS1x 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD55K Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package