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[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=1210[/img]
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 :5stars:

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,
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=1213[/img]
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 :5stars:

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 :5stars:

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 :5stars:

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?
 

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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:bigsmile:
 

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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....:bigsmile:
 

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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! :bigsmile:
 

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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! :bigsmile:
Oh, no,.... Sonnie,... I sure hope you meant Batman Begins and not Batman Returns :scared: :coocoo:
 

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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. :T
 

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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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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.
 

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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 :(
 

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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 :bigsmile:
 

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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

Yep... that's why I am getting on with building my sub... I am tired of waiting to see movies. There are several I want to see right now and this one is on the very top of the list.
 

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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

Wayde,

Great review! I loved this film, and had my pre-order up at Amazon within an hour of it being available for order on their site. The variable aspect ratio was also a complete non-issue (I rarely noticed I was so in to the film), and my wife did not notice at all. The only thing I thought Ledger's Joker lacked was the sense that he would stab you and turn the knife because he genuinely thought it was funny (My wife went in expecting Nicholson's Joker... boy, was SHE surprised...:devil:). Still, an awesome performance, and a talent that will be missed (God rest his soul).

And, for the record, I loved Batman Returns...:D Basically, I really like all of the Burton/Nolan takes (don't get me started on the Schumacher disasters....), and coming from me that is saying a lot; I really don't care all that much for the rest of Burton's stuff...:unbelievable:
 

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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

Great review Wayde.

The first time I saw Batman Begins I was in awe over the movie. The Dark Knight commanded that same sense of awe from me. I think it must be that touch of realism they add to the Batman character. Sure he does do some stunts that are technically impossible or improbable but it's a touch less comic bookish. I say comic bookish to mean the Comic Book Authority censored style book.
 

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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

I rather enjoyed Heath Ledger performance the character was well prepared and its sad that he passed away so young in his acting carrier. Defiantly an Oscar nod for supporting role in my books that’s daring and eerie the Joker was one and all fruity and loony in creepy way, bumping off his own men in the first act, now that is low.

The films image looks splendid for region 2 DVD crisp transfer nothing to distract me from the viewing. Sound plays an important element in the action and softer dialogue moments (I’m going to make this pencil disrepair) grabbing a hood and slamming his face down onto an upright pencil ouch! (ta da, now its gone). LOL :rofl:

I like those specifications Wayde on the sound in different languages as well as English this is a better overview than I’ve seen over on the AVS site, I guess you go the distance?

One thing that I think is minis is no audio commentary with cast and crew. I thought that was what laserdisc was all about and then DVD only few now then have audio commentary and now bluray but that’s not the point, lack of audio commentary, hmm, I like to settle down afterwards and listen to their views on the films success how this and that was achieved in the technical making of the film which was astonishing and the building that was demolished in that explosion etc.
 

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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

I loved it and boy it gave my new sub a workout not to mention the buttkickers......:bigsmile:
 

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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

Thoroughly enjoyed this viewing!!

Watched Batman begins prior to refresh my memory, it's rare that a sequel holds up compared to the 1st outing.
 

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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

I agree it was a pretty good movie. I stayed awake for the whole thing(please understand, most movies can't even keep me awake the entire time, literally). I did like the 1st movie a bit better. In this movie, Bale was definitely playing 2nd fiddle. Ledger owned this movie, IMO. His acting was incredible. 1st rate. I think it even upstaged the Joker as played by Jack Nichalson by a substantial margin. As for the replacement actress for Bale's love interest: I'm not going to discuss acting of the two different actresses. I will just say that I could not in any way accept the replacement as 'the' character they were supposed to be. They should have simply left that character out of the movie if unable to secure the original actress to play the part again. It was like, to me, when they used another actress for the Silence of the Lambs sequel. I can't accept even for the purposes of a movie, that it's the same character. The specific actor/actress when used in a particular universe of a story(and I see Batman Return/Dark Knight movies as a universe, seperate from say the prior Batman Movie universes) brings too much of their own personality/specific mannerism(s) to be simply 'replaced' by another actor/actress. My memory of the prior person in the role won't let me accept the replacement in the particular universe and I can't stop thinking about it. But maybe this is just a problem for me. It may not bother many people?

-Chris
 

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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

The ridiculous edge enhancement and noise reduction ruined the image for me. The movie was all right, I guess. Typical superhero movie, really. The audio was very nice. All in all I was more impressed with 'Begins' than 'Knight'.
 

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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

The ridiculous edge enhancement and noise reduction ruined the image for me.
The EE is a side effect of using the IMAX print for the BD master (meaning it was not done for the BD... it was already there). From the IMAX site:

HOW DO YOU MAKE 35MM MEET THE IMAX STANDARD?
The image on a 35MM film frame is comprised of a fine grain structure like that of all photographic images. This grain when projected on to the IMAX screen looks like a TV channel with bad reception. IMAX DMR removes this grain while preserving the quality of the underlying image making what you see on the screen crystal clear.

...

DIGITALLY RE-MASTERED, REFINED, AND RESIZED!
To create the brightness and clarity that audiences have come to expect from The IMAX Experience®, IMAX uses a proprietary computer program to make the images sharper than they were originally...
Sadly, this means that the chances of a re-issue using the 35mm print for the mastering, is basically nil (because there is nothing wrong with the mastering, just the source). While I definitely prefer the look of "Batman Begins" or "The Prestige" as opposed to the overly "harsh" look of TDK, I still find the film to be one of the finest crime dramas I have ever seen; I would even put it into the ranks of "The Godfather" or "The Departed" (minus all of the pointless profanity). That Batman and The Joker are in it is almost inconsequential.

http://www.theasc.com/magazine_dynamic/July2008/TheDarkKnight/page1.php

Oh, MERRY CHRISTMAS to all! :D :D
 

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Re: Dark Knight Blu-ray Review

Even though they don't straight up to say it in regards to that IMAX excerpt, I just wanted to point out that I don't think it's fair to compare motion picture 35mm with photographic 35mm directly in terms of resolution and grain. From the control tests I have seen, the specific film and transfers required for motion picture 35mm film have a difficult time resolving even 720P. Where as photographic film process, using low ISO still capture film, can easily resolve in excess of 2x what 1080P can display, based on controlled image analysis of 35mm print film scanned with the appropriate drum or equivalent quality scanner(which, there are non drum scanners that can match drum scans today, even if they are not common).

I am not sure what primary difference separates motion picture 35mm from still photography type. Does the motion picture type have a high ISO compared to still picture ISO 50 or 100 type, to allow for sufficient exposures that obviously have to be created sufficiently fast to be captured in the 24 fps rate and have a wide flexibility so far as lighting and have an wide range of stops available for changing the field of view's relative focus of items in the plane? Of course, high ISO has larger grain structure proportionately to the ISO, and can have a far less effective resolution as a result.

Does anyone know what equivalent ISO to still film you would compare typical motion picture 35mm?

-Chris
 
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