(This won’t be a regular feature of my DVD reviews, but it is striking enough to bring it up here…)
This particular DVD set of “The Dark Knight” Two-Disc Special Edition is a Walmart-exclusive release. While not seen on the front, the side and back cover have the standard formal DVD labeling- film summary, film specifications, special features, snapshots from the movie, etc.- but these have been covered in graffiti implied to be done by the Joker himself! He scratches out words, uses arrows to point himself out, makes fun of Batman by drawing smiley faces on him, and generally showing us what a whack-job he is. (The DVDs themselves are not marked in such fashion.)
Scrolling clips from the film play in the background.
Rated “PG-13” by the Motion Picture Association of America
(intense sequences of violence and some menace)
Nine months after the events of “Batman Begins” (2006, PG-13), crime in Gotham City has changed dramatically thanks to the efforts of the masked vigilante known as the Batman. Covertly helping Lt. James Gordon- now head of the new Major Crimes Unit- they slowly but steadily work to shut down the Mob, putting the powerful gangsters on the run. With a bold new district attorney, Harvey Dent, leading the charge on the legal front, the three work to “bring decency in an indecent time”. But now a psychotic criminal, known only as the Joker, has surfaced in the underworld, and the Mob desperately place their faith in him that he will rid them of the Batman and restore Gotham to ‘business as usual’. With corruption and spies throughout the police force haunting their every step, Gordon, Dent, and Batman try to maintain order as the Joker goes on a merciless & unrelenting killing spree in an effort to unmask Gotham’s hero. Even as he taunts their genuine efforts, the Joker also has a personal agenda that will bring the city to its knees, and make all question their faith both in humanity and in the Batman. For the Joker, the rules are simple: there are no rules in the world and everything is chaos. And Batman must now look inwards to find what kind of monster he will become in order to beat the Clown Prince of Crime at his own game.
The movie is broken down into thirty-nine chapters, each specifically set to start at the beginning of a[ny] scene rather than randomly placed.
The film’s audio is presented primarily in 5.1 Digital Surround Sound, with options for French and Spanish audio tracks.
Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired are also available in English, French, and Spanish.
Scrolling clips from the film play in the background.
The only audio is presented in English.
Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired are also available in English and French.
Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene is a two part documentary detailing some of the changes that were made to this new Batman film franchise for the second installment, the new material, and the sound effects & music for “The Dark Knight”.
- The Sounds of Anarchy
- The Evolution of the Knight
It is odd to note that you never see in-person interviews with the cast and/or crew unless it was shot on-set. When you hear the film’s director, editors, prop/model/vehicle makers, costume designers, etc., it is all off-camera voice-over in favor of giving us more video on-the-set or behind-the-scenes production.
There is no Play All option, and each half will go back to the Gotham Uncovered menu when it finishes.
The Dark Knight IMAX? Sequences details a significant step in Hollywood films. “The Dark Knight” has the distinction of being the first full-length feature film to intentionally used giant 70mm Image Maximum (IMAX) cameras during major sequences! While not present in the movie on Disc One, this has been preserved here- at times, your screen will automatically switch from the standard Anamorphic Widescreen format (16:9) to IMAX (1.44:1), providing you with the same massive views at home! (Not every single shot was done using IMAX, so you will see the screen shift back-and-forth on its own. The scenes are exactly the same on Disc One, just that they cut off the top-and-bottom of the picture in the IMAX shots.)
IMAX format (1.44:1)
- The Prologue
- Hong Kong
- The Armored Car Chase
- The Lamborghini Crash
- The Prewitt Building
- The Dark Knight
Gotham Tonight is a collection of short films (8-10 minutes each) specially made for the two-disc DVD release. They incorporate a series of “real” talk news programs on the fictional Gotham Cable Network (GCN), hosted primarily by Mike Engel (actor Anthony Michael Hall). Gotham Tonight (and the character Engel) is featured in the movie itself, but none of these short films are. These are filmed in the style of both real news programs, such as “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer”, or gossip/‘infotainment’ programs, such as “Entertainment Tonight”, but are done in the tone of the movie(s)- without parody or suspension of believe. All of these short films detail political, social, and legal issues over a period of weeks (implying the show airs once a week) leading up to the events of “The Dark Knight”. (Indeed, the last segment is interrupted with an on-the-air announcement of a bank robbery that has just happened… the same one that takes place in the prologue of the film!)
"The Dark Knight"
Several other characters from the film return- including ‘recently-elected’ District Attorney Harvey Dent (actor Aaron Eckhart), Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), Commissioner Loeb (Colin McFarlane), suspected Mob boss Sal Maroni (Eric Roberts), and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale). Several mentions of Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) are made, in reference to ‘his’ fear toxin terrorist attack seen in the climax of “Batman Begins”. An occasional news-ticker will pop-up at the bottom of the screen as well, displaying headlines from random stories of the day taking place in Gotham City. (I’ve read online that eagle-eyed fans of the Batman comics can find a few bits in the news-ticker that don’t appear in the movies!)
- Episode 1 – Election Night
- Episode 2 – Billionaire Without a Cause
- Episode 3 – Escalation
- Episode 4 – Top Cop
- Episode 5 – Cops and Mobsters
- Episode 6 – Gotham’s White Knight
It should be noted that none of these have any relation or connection with the separate out-of-continuity anime films which appear in the DVD-only release, “Batman: Gotham Knight” (2008, PG-13).
The Galleries has two self-descriptive sections- Poster Art and Production Stills- which you can browse through at your own pace.
Trailers includes one teaser and two full theatrical trailers for the movie.
This DVD set has a copy of the feature film that can saved-and-played on your computer! It can be uploaded onto either a PC or Mac, and the instructions for doing so are on a leaflet inside the DVD box. It specifically says you need to be connected to the Internet at the time you want to upload. The Digital Copy can play through either iTunes? and/or Windows Media Player, as well as on any portable media player (such as an iPod? or cell phone).
(I chose not complete the process- even for the sake of reviewing it- because I needed to install a media program in order to run it. Hey- if I can run Disc One on my computer, do I really need to also save the copy on it? Nah…!)
Conclusions & Comments
While Gotham Uncovered is meant to be the main attraction as far as 2-disc DVD sets go, the show-stealer for me was Gotham Tonight which had good-quality production values, and truly felt as if they would have appeared in the world that “Batman Begins” created. Indeed, that the filmmakers took this extra step, and so many of the actors from the film reprised their roles is an impressive feat! They didn’t simply come in for the standard sit-down interviews (of which we oddly got none in this DVD set), but made a set of short films which show us their characters outside the struggle seen in the film. (Granted Bruce Wayne doesn’t actually have an interview- rather, he’s caught by the media at a fancy restaurant- but even that was above and beyond actor Bale’s standard obligation to promoting the film; same with Oldman as Lt. Gordon.) I also liked that the IMAX-versions of the scenes were preserved in some fashion even if they weren’t integrated into the movie-proper here. (I didn’t get to see the film in theaters, and I had forgotten that they had done that, so it came as a surprise when I first saw the film on DVD!) Hopefully, in the future, that will become more commonplace as other films take advantage of the unique big-screen format. The graffiti-ed box cover was also funny and appreciated; it gives a different tone that you usually don’t see on DVD covers.
Call me old-fashioned, but for behind-the-scenes material, I like to see the actors out of character and the senior crew in documentaries, all talking about their interpretations and stories regarding the making of the film. I don’t have the two-disc version of “Batman Begins” [dammit], but I find the two-disc version of “The Dark Knight” to be somewhat adequate in what it presents even as it shows us all the newest material from this version of the Caped Crusader’s never-ending struggle against crime.