THE DARK KNIGHT: Two Disc Special Collector’s Edition DVD Review

     December 9, 2008

Reviewed by Nico

Anyone who has read my reviews knows that I grew up Marvel, but should know I’ve always had a place in my heart (and firm opinions) for certain DC Characters. I anxiously wait for a big screen Green Lantern flick. I hope they relegate Superman to team movies only. Above all, I hope they keep doing Batman the right way because I’ve been fooled before.

I remember when I was coughcough years old and looking forward to Tim Burton’s Batman. I thought Michael Keaton was a weird choice for Batman/Bruce Wayne, but was proven wrong and couldn’t wait for Batman Returns. This started a rapid, downhill slide of disappointment until a Brit by the name of Christopher Nolan entered the picture and brought Batman Begins to the screen. I thoroughly enjoyed Batman Begins, but had that familiar pang in my gut. Could Christopher Nolan avoid Batman’s sophomore jinx with his effort The Dark Knight? Box office, critics and I agree that he has.

The primer for those who’ve been off planet this century — The murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents when he was a boy put him on a lifelong quest for justice. In studying detective work and martial arts, Wayne stumbles on the idea of Batman to strike fear in the hearts of criminals. They are a superstitious lot after all. Bruce Wayne uses his vast inheritance to fund his war on crime and his playboy identity to keep suspicion at bay.

The Dark Knight picks up where Batman Begins left off. Bruce Wayne between mansions, but continues his one-man crusade for justice. Former flame Rachel Dawes makes time with the hot new Gotham DA Harvey Dent. Harvey Dent’s no-nonsense push to clean up the streets of Gotham leads Wayne to believe his time as Batman might not have to go on forever. Unfortunately, also new to the picture is enigmatic anarchist the Joker. The Joker allies himself with the mobs that have come under fire from Batman, Dent and James Gordon (head of Gotham’s Major Crime Unit). The Joker agrees to kill Batman for the mob and goes on a killing spree to draw out the Bat. Batman and Dent’s war on crime butts heads with the Joker’s efforts to create chaos and no one comes out unscathed.

When I heard Christian Bale was in line to play Batman, my heart skipped a beat. Batman is an imperfect mix of his characters from American Psycho and Equilibrium (which if you haven’t seen, please do.) Michael Caine’s (The Prestige, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) Alfred Pennyworth and Morgan Freeman’s (Bruce Almighty, The Shawshank Redemption) Lucius Fox continue to be the perfect support team of wisdom and age (and just a hint of snark) behind the scenes. Aaron Eckhart’s (Thank You For Smoking, Erin Brockovich) casting as Harvey Dent is inspired because you believe that he could easily have taken up the mantle of Batman and the height of his likeability only fuels his eventual gut-wrenching fate. Gary Oldman (The Professional, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) brilliantly underplays the role of James Gordon, making him all the more human and real. Maggie Gyllenhaal (Stranger Than Fiction, Secretary) capably fills the shoes of Rachel Dawes left vacant by Katie Holmes. As with the previous film, the character doesn’t have all that much to do. Ultimately, you just have to not be out-acted off the screen by the rest of the cast. This brings us to the performance of the film – Heath Ledger’s (Brokeback Mountain, The Brothers Grimm) turn as the Joker. This Joker is well-written (especially the ever-shifting origin he tries to foist upon his victims) and Ledger absolutely disappears into the character.


Disc 1 is the movie – straightforward, plain and simple. The highlight of the startup was a glimpse at the upcoming Batman game Arkham Asylum.

The letterbox format preserves the movie’s theatrical aspect ratio (not IMAX). Languages and subtitle options are available in English, French and Spanish.

Disc 2

Special features have optional English and French subtitles.

On startup – ads for Batman: Gotham Knight and The Dark Knight soundtrack.

Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene – divided into two parts:

The Sound of Anarchy six and a half minute focus on the musical cues crafted by Hans Zimmer to accompany the Joker.

The Evolution of the Knight – seventeen and a half minutes on the development of the new take on the Batman suit and the Batpod as well as the other creative lead up to The Dark Knight. I didn’t even notice until they mentioned it, but this is the first time that Batman can turn his neck in costume.

The Dark Knight IMAX Sequences – six film sequences (The Prologue, Hong Kong, The Armored Car Chase, The Lamborghini Crash, The Prewitt Building and The Dark Knight) presented in their IMAX aspect ratio.

Gotham Tonight – six episodes with host Mike Engel (Anthony Michael Hall – The Dead Zone, Pirates of Silicon Valley) and a variety of actors including Eckhart as Harvey Dent. Episodes included: Election Night, Billionaire Without a Cause, Escalation, Top Cop, Cops and Mobsters and Gotham’s White Knight — with play all functionality. Episodes range between six and ten minutes.

The Galleries – separated into Poster Art and Production Stills.

Trailers – three trailers for the film (with play all functionality).

Disc 2 also allows you to get your digital copy of the film.

My only hesitation in an absolute “Buy This Now” recommendation would be the eerie feeling that there might be a new release with more special features at some point, but that’s only because I’ve personally been burned before.


Writer/director Nolan put two consecutive great Batman films on the big screen. I’m sad to hear he might not accept the challenge of making a third, though with the likes of Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand as examples, I can see why. As it stands, this is the second half of a one-two punch that not only pleases comic fans, but also anyone who loves quality filmmaking. The Dark Knight works as a crime thriller as well as a Batman movie. I hope the effort is recognized with Oscar nominations.

Final Grade – A+ (film), B (Special Features)

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