year after the Batman (Bale) appeared on the streets of Gotham, the criminal
underworld is on the back foot and finally the citizens of Gotham have more
confidence in police and elected officials. Leading the charge against organised
crime, Lt. James Gordon (Oldman) and newly appointed District Attorney Harvey
Dent (Eckhart) are starting to make waves, making Bruce Wayne finally think
that his symbol for justice might not be needed for much longer. The problem
is that with Batman bringing out the best in good people he can also attract
the seriously bad and that comes in the shape of The Joker (Ledger), a sadistic
madman who offers a solution to the crimes bosses of Gotham, kill the Batman.
returns to the big screen but can the second big screen adventure under the
direction of Christopher Nolan set not just a new standard for comic book
adaptations but for the blockbuster movie?
'Batman Begins' was released in 2005, it was hailed as the first time moviegoers
had seen a true representation of Bruce Wayne and costumed alter ego. This
was a movie that concentrated on Wayne and the Batman, showing the creation
of the superhero and his journey to becoming the masked protector of Gotham
City. Where this was different to Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher's version
of the Caped Crusader is that Batman was the focal point and the villains
were not all consuming, dominating the movie playing caricatures of the big
name actors and actresses that wear playing them. Nolan stayed clear of Batman's
most famous enemies, choosing Ra's Al Ghul and The Scarecrow but at the end
of film he showed his card for who was coming in the inevitable sequel and
he was the biggest Batman villain of them all.
Lt. James Gordon handed Batman a playing card, every fan knew that the villain
for 'The Dark Knight' would be the Caped Crusader's true nemesis, The Joker.
With Cesar Romero setting the standard in the classic TV show, Jack Nicholson
playing Jack Nicholson in a Joker outfit in Tim Burton's 'Batman' in 1989
and 'Star Wars' legend Mark Hamill providing the voice to the fans favourite
incarnation of the Clown Prince of Gotham in 'Batman: The Animated Series',
whoever was cast in the role for Nolan's second movie who have hard acts to
follow. When it was announced that Heath Ledger has won the role, a few eyebrows
were raised but the actor who had raised his profile with an Oscar nominated
performance in 'Brokeback Mountain' and critically acclaimed performances
in 'Monster's Ball' and 'Ned Kelly', was no stranger to blockbuster movies
after starring in 'A Knight's Tale', 'The Patriot' and '10 Things I Hate About
You'. Tragically his untimely death in January 2008 brought even more attention
to the performance and the film but fortunately this is a role that Heath
Ledger has redefined and sets a new standard for big screen villainy.
Joker is one of the great villains in comic book history. He represents the
worst that people can be, with no superpowers it is his madness and his total
disregard for anything that makes him such a complicated but mesmerising villains.
You could never predict what he was going to do, as he had no limitations,
to self-rules to pull him in, meaning people will die when the Joker was involved.
Christopher Nolan and his co-writers David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan understand
this completely and have written a story that finally shows what a true villain
the Joker can really be. It is Heath Ledger's performance as the Clown Prince
of Gotham that pushes this excellent piece of character realisation to a new
level. You have never seen a screen villain like this before, a man with no
background, no history who walks into a city and causes complete chaos. The
clown makeup and theatrical look aside, inside there is a total disregard
for the law and human morels and a willingness to push anyone to their extremes.
In his sights is the Batman and his latest fellow crime fighter District Attorney
Harvey Dent and the three of them will face of with devastating effect. Ledger
must have been complete consumed by the role, transforming himself into the
perfect incarnation of pure evil, with a sadistic sense of humour. This is
a stunning performance and one that will not only set the standard for comic
book villains but for villains in any movie.
movie isn't just about the performance of Heath Ledger however, as it could
have so easily have been. This is an ensemble piece with each of the major
cast members having their role to play, however minor their screen time. Christian
Bale returns as Bruce Wayne/Batman as a more confident crime fighter, one
that thinks that the point when Gotham no longer needs the Batman is coming.
Bale grows in the role, as the Caped Crusader realised that because he has
changed the goal posts in the fight against crime, this would attract a new
class of criminal, one without rules or morals in the Joker. The British actor
has really made the role his own and he is now the face you envisage when
you think of Batman. Joining the cast is the fabulous Aaron Eckhart as Gotham's
White Knight and the man who could make the need for Batman obsolete, new
District Attorney Harvey Dent. Any fan of the Dark Knight will know that Dent
is destined for a fall from grace but it is the way that the actor and Nolan's
creative team handle this that makes it have such a powerful impact on the
plot. The trio of good is made complete by Lt. James Gordon, played again
by Gary Oldman, and Gordon has a lot to do now with the bringing down of organised
crime in Gotham. Michael Caine returns as Bruce Wayne's conscience butler
Alfred Pennyworth and Morgan Freeman has much more to do as the head of Wayne
Industries and Batman's 'toy' supplier Lucius Fox. Maggie Gyllenhaal comes
in to replace Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, bringing a little more to role
of the passionate assistant district attorney, who has the heart of Bruce
Wayne and Harvey Dent.
Dark Knight' is simply stunning and is by far the best comic book movie every
made. It is much more than a comic book adaptation however, it is an excellent
movie in its own right redefining how we should gauge a summer blockbuster.
While it riddled with stunning action sequences that utilises more real stunt
work than CGI, it is the story that makes 'The Dark Knight' standout from
the usual summer blockbuster and it sets the standard for everything else
to follow. Why so serious? Just because it is a comic book movie doesn't mean
to say that you shouldn't take the source material seriously and Christopher
Nolan and his creative team have now set a very high benchmark.
The Blu-Ray disc
presents the movie in High Definition wide screen 2:35 up to 1080p, with Dolby
TrueHD 5.1 surround sound. The pristine picture and glorious sound highlight
the astonishing visuals and performances from one of the best comic book movies
(1hr 4.10 mins/High Definition)
Entitled 'The Prologue', 'The New Bat Suit', 'Joker theme', 'Hong Kong Jump',
'Judge's car blows up', 'Challenges of the chase in IMAX', 'SWAT van into
the river', 'Miniature unit', 'Destruction of the Batmobile', 'Bat-Pod', 'Helicopter
crash', 'Truck flip', 'MCV Explosion', 'Lamborghini crash', 'Hospital explosion',
'Mob car flip', 'String of sausages' and 'Upping the Ante', you can watch
these featurettes on there own, as one behind scenes documentary or during
the movie. With contributions from director Christopher Nolan, this creative
team and the cast, this is a very different way of providing a commentary
for the biggest movie of 2008.
Director Christopher Nolan, producers Charles Roven and Emma Thomas are joined
by the cast and crew of 'The Dark Knight' to talk about the technology that
Batman uses to fight crime and how it is based on real military technology
that the armed forces have developed.
The Psychology of the Dark Knight (46.02 mins/High Definition)
Psychologists join the cast and crew of 'The Dark Knight' to talk about the
mental state of Batman/Bruce Wayne and how bats, his own mentality and the
villains have changed his life completely.
(46.41 mins/High Definition)
Entitled 'Election Night', 'Billionaire with a cause', 'Escalation', 'Top
Cop', 'Cops and Mobsters' and 'Gotham's White Knight', these are the viral
advertising news reports that appeared on the official website and YouTube
during the build up to the film's cinematic release. Presented by fictional
news presenters Mike Engel and Lydia, the special news reports covered the
main characters of the film and interviews with some of the key players in
the film including new district attorney Harvey Dent.
View the designs for the 'Joker Cards', 'concept art', 'poster art' and 'production
stills'. Trailers and More View the four cinema trailers and the six TV spots
that promoted the movie before its release.
The Blu-Ray treatment
of 'The Dark Knight' is a bit of a mixed bag. The 'Focus Points' function
is good but not as good as a production diary and a commentary. The two documentaries
are a little too over produced with an extremely annoying voice over for both.
The Gotham Tonight spots are excellent in HD however and well worth watching,
even if you saw them on the internet. Fans will be pleased but after the Blu-Ray
version of 'Batman Begins', some maybe a little disappointed.
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