December 9th is finally here, bringing girls and boys alike the DVD they have been waiting so patiently for, the Dark Knight.
The folks over at Cinema Blend have been good enough to provide the details on each of these exclusive Dark Knight DVD sets and I represent them here:
* Free Joker playing card (which features an image of Batman in the advertisements) with purchase of any of the editions.
* Free Batman or Joker replica mask with purchase of the 2-disc DVD or the Blu-ray Batpod gift set
* Free $20 Best Buy gift card with purchase of the Blu-ray edition and a Samsung Blu-ray player
* Exclusive “Why So Serious” slipcover for 2-disc DVD
* Free limited edition Batman logo journal with purchase of 2-disc DVD (NOTE: includes Joker playing card)
* Free Dark Knight calendar with purchase of 2-disc DVD or the Blu-ray edition
Target (far too silly for an adult to own… I was tricked into the Hulk abomination)
* Collectible Batman mask packaging for 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray editions (like Iron Man had a few months ago)
Toys ‘R’ Us (none in sight at my local TRU)
* Free Batman projector flashlight with purchase of any edition of The Dark Knight
FYE (overpriced at $39)
* Exclusive steelbook packaging on 2-disc DVD edition.
* Exclusive comic book and Two-Face replica coin with purchase of single disc DVD
Of course the big deal is the Blu-ray version complete with incredible documentaries showing every detail of a shoot and even that fun Bat-Tech History Channel special I write about last month. The most bizarre feature has to be BD-Live, a kind of commentary program allowing you to log online and share your own commentary with other viewers as you watch. I can only imagine a device like this in the hands of my mom who is never shy of sharing her extensive movie knowledge in the cinema.
As far as non-Blu-ray special edition releases, the winner here is Circuit City‘s reasonably priced set for $25 (sticker price $35) including the exclusive Why So Serious? packaging. This turned out to be a real treat as the text describing the film and DVD content were covered in scrawl defacing as if the Joker himself had been on the production floor. The tasteful Bat-Signal embossed notebook is hands down the most practical and useful bonus and the surprise Joker card in the back pocket was a definite plus. What to do with the notebook is a whole other problem. Write messages to Batman late at night?
Down to the actual DVD and the story is sadly not so impressive.
Whereas the Batman Begins deluxe set had intricate documentaries (and a mini-comic), this set has a mere two very short features. They are admittedly well done and cover some of the production details and the creation of the Joker‘s ‘theme’ refered to as the ‘sound of anarchy,’ but it more or less stops there. The inclusion of the IMAX sequences is interesting for posterity but useless outside of an IMAX cinema.
That said… what a film!
The movie itself holds up remarkably well from the heist sequence in the beginning to the mission in Tokyo and beyond. Dark Knight is an intense viewing experience that the faint of heart should definitely shy away from. An explosive film from start to finish, I’ve never seen anything like it using a comic book character as its basis. A fine gift to the fans who have enjoyed Batman in print all these years, but also a great film for the movie-going set, this is something unique that we may never see again.
Heath Ledger‘s performance is truly electrifying and leaves the viewer somberly aware of his contribution to the world of cinema and the depth of our loss as an audience with his death.
With each appearance on the screen, Heath Ledger’s Joker is so dynamic and shocking that he literally brings tears to my eyes. It took a while for me to figure out why that is, and I deduced that it is his unbridled anger. He is so terrifying and imposing because of the sheer rage that he keeps in check with the delicate poise of a hair trigger on a shotgun.
The story is full of sophistication and suspense equaling the drama that creator Bob Kane imbued his creation with back in 1939.
Charged with creating another hero as popular as Superman, Kane’s Batman was a brilliant combination of mythology and pulp detective character. Using DaVinci’s designs for a flying machine as a starting point always gave Batman a high art edge over the other super heroes. A hero who dressed almost entirely in black, like a villain, also struck a chord of originality that has resounded ever since. In short, Batman is a modern masterpiece on cheap paper, something perhaps only a clever American kid would come up with.
Perhaps the biggest weight of the film falls on actor Christian Bale who perfectly embodies the tortured soul that is Bruce Wayne and the brutal force of nature the Batman. Bale is such a great fit in the role that few people even talk about him (blown away instead by Ledger’s Joker). An actor’s dream, the part of Bruce Wayne/Batman is full of opportunities to make the character glow or fizzle (see Clooney’s Batman).
Bale‘s playboy Wayne act is a terribly amusing joke on the people of Gotham, but the brooding eyes of Bruce Wayne carefully watching and plotting his next move is where the real story lies. The mask of Batman gives a face to his anger toward the crime that took his parents from him, but beneath all of that is the mastermind of Bruce Wayne. It’s a subtle thing, but Bale pulls it off so well that when our hero crosses a line at a key point in the film, the viewer is suddenly reminded that Batman is fighting a war that will never end. While other comic book movies just shove almost anyone into a costume and expect the audience to buy it, Bale is not just an actor in a rubber suit, he brings a certain intensity and depth of character to the role that I did not think possible.
A chilling and powerful performance.
Director Chris Nolan has a detailed understanding of film making and judging from his output a sincere appreciation for the source material of this comic book super hero. Personally I found it hard to remember that Dark Knight was a ‘comic book film’ while watching the DVD. The high drama and intense action were not that far off from other golden greats including the French Connection and Get Carter (the original, mate).
As a follow-up to the impressive Batman Begins, Dark Knight acts as the perfect bookend to a legacy. One film provides the rise of the caped crusader and the second his tragic fall from grace, branded a villain by the very people he wanted to protect. As I watched Dark Knight in the cinema and again at home I was equally stunned that just any comic book character did not ‘deserve’ a film this good, then it struck me… Batman certainly does.
And maybe that is why this movie is so damned good.
The Dark Knight (+ Digital Copy and BD Live) [Blu-ray]
The Dark Knight (Two-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy)
The Dark Knight: Limited Edition with Batpod (+Digital Copy and BD Live) [Blu-ray]
Batman Begins [Blu-ray]
Batman Begins (Limited Edition Gift Set) [Blu-ray]
Batman: Gotham Knight (Two-Disc Special Edition w/Limited Issue Steelbook Package & Exclusive DC Comics Character Guide)