The Dark Knight - Blu-ray Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 33 Old 12-12-08, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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The Dark Knight - Blu-ray Review

Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Production Year: 2008
Length: 152 minutes

The Movie

What’s left to be said of Christopher Nolan’s vision of the Batman? You can only be in one of two camps; those who loved it and those really, really loved it. Put me in the latter camp. With the shackles of the origin story behind him in Batman Begins, Nolan now unleashes the Batman in a symphonic romp complete with twists, sub-plots, conflicts and then closes the deal with a mega-climax.

In this masterpiece of superhero-to-film, Nolan puts his new rendition of Batman into his first real epic. This is the Batman any other film-maker wanted to create. It’s so big, so bombastic and effective that an unexpected, deceptively obvious thing happens – which may also be the film’s weakness, the Dark Knight himself plays second fiddle in the film to a complex and almost convoluted plot.

If the brilliant performance by Christian Bale weren’t enough to set this film into classic status the myriad of supporting actors elevates the film to legendary. Familiar names to the franchise like Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are all here for this second-time-around. But now Nolan has thrown in truly memorable performances from surprise newcomers to the franchise. Aaron Eckhart was a touch of brilliance as the heroic District Attorney, Harvey Dent who happens to be dating one gorgeous yet sassy Rachel Dawes, now played by the Maggie Gyllenhaal. Yes, Maggie is an upgrade from Katie Holms, sorry Katie.

But let’s not forget the real reason this film the slam-dunked box-office sales in its opening weekend,
the unforgettable encore performance of Heath Ledger’s much too brief career. While it’s true we love our heroes, it’s the villains that make stories truly memorable and the Joker has always been one of the most interesting villains in the panoply of storytelling. Ledger punches-in with a dramatic performance that brings credit to the craft of method acting.

Sure, it’s easy to dismiss the maniacal over-the-top performance as showcasing and not real, dramatic acting. But anyone who has followed Ledger’s career knows there is more to his performance than simply being fiendishly silly. He’s a true actor that didn’t just play the Joker, he filled the Joker and you can see it every time he pauses and the camera drinks in the depth of that evil stare.

Video

1080p/VC-1
2.40:1
1.78:1

What is Batman without shadows and dark cityscape? Warner has given us a premium in video performance that leaves much of what I thought were great transfers to shame. One of the biggest dangers in a movie like Dark Knight would be in not getting shadows right. The movie gives us a Gotham City (really Chicago) that elegantly broods with dark shadows around every corner. If your display is up for the task this Blu-ray disc will give your video a depth of field seldom seen.

One of the attributes I love about my 1080P plasma display is that it has no trouble giving me varied shades of black. From deepest blacks to charcoal grey shadows the video presentation holds darker shades together without fragmenting into a grainy mess. It makes colors jump out when they spring to life from inky pools of blackness.

The only thing that can compete with this transfer’s superior darkness is the way it captures brilliant daylight. When you see the details in the city skyline emerge in a sundrenched Gotham or Hong Kong daylight, you may catch yourself saying a small prayer of thanks.

Audio

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround (48kHz/16-bit)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (640kbps)
English Descriptive Video Service 2.0 Stereo (192kbps)
French (Quebec) Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (448kbps)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (448kbps)

The truth is I haven’t had time for a second viewing yet, that’s usually where I will really find my favorite points where surrounds or sub are exercised. I listened to the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack that happens to be a 48kHz/16-bit sampling rate. Overall the audio is as flawless as the video. Yes, you’ll easily find scenes where the LFE and surrounds are aggressively put to good use. Explosions are full and bassy and never drop out in the mid. As the camera’s P.O.V. whirl’s around the action, the audio remains positionally fixed. But what really impresses me about a soundtrack are the ambient little details and Dark Knight delivers.


It effortlessly takes you from a cramped environment’s ambient echoy acoustics to an outdoor rooftop with nothing but high-altitude winds that seem to whistle through your hair. The scenes where Batman poses on a rooftop in the middle of a city are stunning. It’s not just the moonlit hues but the sound – or lack thereof. We can tell why Batman chooses to muse upon skyscrapers in the middle of this big city. You’ll be taken by the solitude it must afford him in the midst of the chaos of the city. Up here the traffic and sounds of the city are nothing but a faint glimmer in the distance, here only the wind and the moon are your companions.

The set I bought included three discs in a metallic case that was supposedly a Future Shop exclusive, I’m sure something similar is available at Best Buy and maybe others.

Disc One

The Feature Film

Focus Points: 18 small features that give you a closer look at various aspects of making the film. I found the ones about the stunts particularly impressive. When many films go the rout of the CGI this one puts stuntmen into some unique positions. When viewing the feature you have an annoying option of having these vignettes show up on the film whenever an icon appears while you’re watching the movie. Or you can do the sane thing and just watch them separately, they’re nicely parsed among the menu system.


Disc Two

Batman Tech: This is number one of two documentaries. The name pretty much sums it up.

Batman Unmasked: The second documentary on the disc. A garbage promotional piece about the film, as if you didn’t already want to see it! You bought or rented the blu-ray disc for cryin’ out loud!

Gotham Tonight: Fake newscasts from the Gotham News desk. It’s pretty cool they included this feature although you’ll have to have a lot of patience or be a huge fan of immersing yourself into a movie to watch all of them.

Still Galleries: Five galleries in total. Lots and lots of Batman pictures.
Theatrical Trailers/ TV Spots: The name says it all, this is a standard feature for most DVD/Blu-ray releases today.

BD Live: My BD player doesn’t have BD Live because well… to put it simply Blu-ray wasn’t invented yet when Panasonic sold me my Blu-ray player. But the BD Live features are pretty deep and although I consider the going’s on of the sub-picture to be rather flippant, because I like watching the movie undistracted, it is a technical curiosity that Warner pulled off so much stuff in their Dark Knight release.

Dark Knight Blu-ray BD Live Features

Overall

This movie is a classic. Don’t listen to any of the nay-sayers that try to tell you this isn’t a classic. It’s going to go down in history as one of the most memorable action movies of our era. It combines great special effects that don't rely on too much CGI. And it has character development and a terrific story. The plot is admittedly a bit convoluted, but shouldn't be the focus of the movie. Instead focus on the story, the characters and their individual struggles and how it all comes together in the end – and unravels for Dark Knight himself. Although it’s a fitting tribute to Heath Ledger’s career I wouldn’t let that distract you from a fine film in its own right. Now you can own it on a masterfully produced high definition format – what more could you ask?

Wayde
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post #2 of 33 Old 12-12-08, 02:55 PM
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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

Great review Wayde, It still surprises me that a movie like this did not do all 7.1 channels of uncompressed audio. After seeing Narnia "Prince Caspian" with 7.1 DTS MA its hard to go back to 5.1

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #3 of 33 Old 12-12-08, 03:32 PM
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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

Thanks for the review Wayde, I haven't seen it yet but I have some family comeing over on sunday to watch on the big screen. I can't wait....
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post #4 of 33 Old 12-12-08, 04:34 PM
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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

I can hardly wait. Batman Returns ranks on up there with one of my all time favorites. If this one is any better... whoa nellie!

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post #5 of 33 Old 12-12-08, 05:17 PM
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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

Quote:
Sonnie wrote: View Post
I can hardly wait. Batman Returns ranks on up there with one of my all time favorites. If this one is any better... whoa nellie!
Oh, no,.... Sonnie,... I sure hope you meant Batman Begins and not Batman Returns

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post #6 of 33 Old 12-12-08, 05:20 PM
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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

oops... yes indeed... Batman Begins! YIKES! That like to have been disastrous.

Thanks for the clarification.

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post #7 of 33 Old 12-12-08, 05:50 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

I knew what he meant. Returns/Begins, it's hard to keep track of them all. It was fun to write. I know I'm hyping it up, but this is one time I think it's worthy of the hype.

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post #8 of 33 Old 12-12-08, 11:28 PM
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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

Picked up my copy Tuesday, going to watch it Saturday night which is movie night here at my place. I will let you know what I think. of course, having seen the rest of them I cant wait! ok, I know its going to be good.
post #9 of 33 Old 12-13-08, 12:06 PM
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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

I have been to two Walmarts and a Futureshop and all of them were sold out of the BluRay copies. So it looks like I'm going to have to wait for a bit before I can see it

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #10 of 33 Old 12-13-08, 12:39 PM
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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

Finally had the chance to watch this one at home last night and all I can say is wow! This has got to be one of the best looking and sounding films to date. And I agree with every word of your review Wayde, I am also in the latter camp. Last night was the 5th time I've seen it.

Sonnie - you're in for a treat
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