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Reviewed by Andre Dellamorte


By being Batman, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is like a vaccine. Eventually the only thing that can survive is the stronger strains, and itís quite possible that the creation of a Batman would lead to something equally antithetical. So after Batman Begins, itís no surprise that the opening of The Dark Knight focuses on The Joker (Heath Ledger) a never-named criminal who is something of a mastermind, and something of a dandy. He may be over the top, but heís always got a point, and itís a compelling one. As he tells the criminals heís the only one who can beat Batman.


Gotham has been cleaned up some, but thereís an emerging lawyer Ė Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) Ė who Wayne believes might be able to do things legally, the right way, and end his career as a crimefighter. Dent is also dating Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, slipping in for Katie Holmes), though Wayne still carries a torch for her. With Alfred (Michael Caine) James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) helping him, heís got a way to get at the mobís money, and maybe be close to cleaning up the city for good, but the Joker and his chaos gets in the way. It all leads up to a night where Ė after finally catching the Joker, Batman gets him in an interrogation room and tells him that both Dent and Rachel are about to die and he can only save one.


The fanbase and response to this film has been staggering, just as it was for the first X-Men and Spider-Man movies. This is easily the better film of that trio, but there are modest defaults to the film. Save masterpiece for films like Citizen Kane or Memento, this is just a really great Hollywood production that gets a lot right and does somewhat elevate the genre into something more. Nolan puts together sequences well, but in terms of his action choreography he just sort of blunders through fist fights, which gives the final stretch a bit of ho-humness. That said, what is here is pretty marvelous.


Thereís a lot going on in the film, more so than most of the comic book films of before about the nature of evil, and the point of heroism. Itís fully compelling in total, and though it definitely borrows some modern concerns, it never becomes completely analogous to modern day, nor does it add up to much, but when Batman gets his Shane moment (and it is fully Shane) at the end, itís hard not to love him. You could suggest that the Joker is Osama (or terrorism) and that Batman is our government forced to play Nixonís madman to defeat evils, but I donít think it holds up under much scrutiny. Though that might have been the starting off point.


The great thing about Nolan, though, is that talented people want to work with him, and so you have a cast of some of the great actors working today, and all doing rather good work. Of course, the film would be nothing without Heath Ledgerís performance as the Joker Ė the man who inspired millions of Halloween costumes. His work is a career high, and he makes you believe that this guy does have it all worked out, that he could pull off all that he does. He gets a number of just brilliant moments and it is his movie. And that does amplify the tragedy of his loss.


That loss, however, is not reflected on the special features. This is both good and bad. It seems that with his death it closed a lot of windows, or set this title up for a double dip. Since the film did such business, itís hard to tell.


Warner Brothers presents the film in mixed ratio. Since much of the film was shot in the IMAX format that footage is presented 1.78:1, but the rest of the film is in 2.35:1. This isnít as glaring as it was in the IMAX theaters, where the jump back and forth was more jarring. Still, I think in the future release it might be nice to have the film in just 2.35:1 as well. The problem is that the IMAX footage looks so fucking good. So good, and is complemented by a Dolby Digital 5.1 and TrueHD mix. I wasnít able to hear too much difference between the two, but both are pretty ass kickiní.


But that second disc? You can pretty much throw it away. The first disc has a PIP track, which thankfully can be viewed separately in full size. Itís runs 64 minutes, and is the most informative stuff on the disc, and talks about the music, and the stunts, and how the sequences were put together. But on disc two Thereís ďBatman TechĒ (46 min.) which talks about the real world practicalities of the toys used in the film, while ďBatman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark KnightĒ (46 min.) shows that film is Scientologist-free as the characters as psycho-analyzed. This to me is called either grasping at straws or trying too hard. Again, my guess is that the DVD guys were crippled by Ledgerís death in what could and couldnít be included, so you get shit like this.  Thereís also six episodes of ďGotham TonightĒ (47 min.) which features a lot of Anthony Michael Hall, and new footage with Eckhart, and Eric Roberts. I donít know how much of this they ever planned to use, or if that was done for the internet, but itís interesting that they did it, but the sort of thing you only want to see once. Thereís four still galleries, three trailers and six TV spots. Thereís also BD-Live content, which will include being able to record your own commentary for the film. Itíll be interesting to see how BD-Live progresses, but I donít think theyíve figured it out yet.




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