The Dark Knight

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Read Scott Macdonald's film review of The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight is presented on DVD in both single disc and two disc editions.

Disc one contains the movie, and other than about seven minutes of trailers for upcoming product, it gets the entire platter to itself. Video and audio should therefore be exemplary, right? Not quite.

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Well, at least the audio is among the finest on DVD. Capturing every bit of subtlety and bombast that any movie soundtrack has ever had and presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, The Dark Knight sounds glorious. The soundstage is very wide, and precisely engineered. The musical score has marvellous presence, making itself known at every opportunity. There is phenomenal bass response here, which will require a mighty subwoofer to capably manage it.

Video is not top-tier, entirely presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen - the Blu-ray transfer opens the image out during the IMAX-shot scenes, while the DVD does not. It is decidedly rather soft looking, rather than the Warner Bros flagship product expected. It also (rather mysteriously) suffers from occasional video noise issues - which is surprising, due to the relatively low compression. It shouldn't dissuade you from purchasing, but alas, The Dark Knight is not at sharp as you might have hoped.

On to disc 2, and the majority of the extras comprise of an hour-long documentary Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene - split into five pieces, with no helpful "Play All". Overall, it's one of the best making-of efforts I've seen, deftly avoiding the "talking heads intercut with movie footage" approach by almost never showing the participants talking to camera. It's like a precisely structured audio commentary of B-roll footage, both hugely informative and entertaining. The participants are identified with helpful subtitles. There are featurettes on the IMAX shooting, sound design and music, stunt work, (mostly in-camera) visual effects and design. I remain in bewildered awe that such a large, luxurious and complex entertainment was not compromised by the huge production challenges. There is an early draft of Batman's Hong Kong swan dive that will make you gasp in wide-eyed shock, or lose your lunch. Probably both.

The six IMAX scenes are also showcased in their entirety in their full aperture aspect ratio - 1.44:1 (The Prologue, Hong Kong, The Armored Car Chase, The Lamborghini Crash, The Prewitt Building, The Dark Knight). I'm not sure what the point is in presenting these scenes in isolation.

Additionally, there is about 45 minutes of "Gotham Tonight" - little promotional pieces of a panelist programme often seen onscreen in the movie itself. There are six shows (Election Night, Billionaire Without a Cause, Escalation, Top Cop, Cops and Mobsters, Gotham's White Knight) each focussing on a different character, and they sport appearances of the major players in character. Watch out for Christian Bale's hilarious drunken toff effort.

Rounding off the disc is a small gallery of images (with some seriously freaky clown mask designs), and all the promotional trailers used in the campaign - I am assured there is at least one easter egg trailer, but I have not found it.

Notable omissions would definitely be a Heath Ledger tribute, but then again, the movie itself is his best epitaph.

Quite simply, the best entertainment of the year with very decent audio/video, given a reasonably generous supplement package makes this an easy recommend.

Reviewed on: 18 Dec 2008
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The Dark Knight packshot
The Caped Crusader isn't the only batty one in Gotham... The Joker's also in town.
Amazon link

Product Code: DY24950

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.40:1 widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 televisions

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Gotham Uncovered, IMAX scenes, Gotham Tonight, gallery, trailers

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