Since I already reviewed The Dark Knight back in July when it was released to theaters, and I essentially stand by that post, I will focus here on its home video incarnation.
Or maybe I don’t stand by that review anymore. While at the time I was slightly off-put by the dark and dour crime-drama take on this comic book staple (I still gave it a solid B+), upon watching it again, I must say the film improves with repeat viewings. On multiple levels, this is an incredible accomplishment — quite possibly the greatest superhero movie ever made. The Godfather Part II of comic book films. Even without Heath Ledger’s terrifyingly creepy portrayal of The Joker — with it, the achievement is monumental.
So then why did Warner Bros. stick it to us with such a bogus DVD? (By the by, I am reviewing the 2-Disc Special Edition — I don’t have Blu-Ray yet). While the picture and sound of the feature on Disc 1 are all top-notch, it is Disc 2 that fails so horribly. As an aficionado of cinematic documentaries (not to mention a big Batman fan), I was particularly looking forward to the same kind of in-depth behind-the-scenes featurettes that were included on the Batman Begins 2-Disc SE. Alas, this is not to be.
All that is included here is:
Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene — I’m not even sure why this is called such. All it includes are brief featurettes about the Bat-Suit, the Bat-Pod and Hans Zimmer’s Joker music. Each of these are fascinating, but it is all too obvious that they have been carved from a much bigger pie.
The Dark Knight IMAX scenes — Six scenes in all, which simply change the format ratio. They’re all cool (much more so when they are on an actual IMAX screen), but why the choice to include these separately on Disc 2 instead of incorporating them into the feature itself?
Gotham Tonight: Six episodes of Gotham’s Premiere News Program — You know those newscasts spread throughout The Dark Knight, with Anthony Michael Hall as a reporter? Here is nearly an hour of those newscasts. Yawn. (While I like Hall in other roles, his casting here was distracting to me — took me out of the story every time I saw him).
Other than trailers and production stills (oh, and the faddish, completely useless Digital Copy), that’s it for Bonus Content. I understand the Blu-Ray version does indeed have much more, but even that one leaves much to be desired. No commentary, no Making-Of docs (except a few trimmings), not even a mention of Heath Ledger. Never mind that there could (should) have been a career retrospective, or a brief featurette, or a “Dedicated To:”, his name is not even mentioned. Pardon my French, but WTF?
Obviously there are double- and triple-dips for this film in our future. While I have surely dipped into that well when upgrading some of my favorite films, such chintzy marketing (hell, greed!) is beginning to leave a sour taste in my mouth. At least studios used to pretend that they weren’t milking their properties for every penny they can get. Perhaps they know they’ve got us suckered, so why even put up the pretense?
It’s enough to even piss off The Batman.
FILM GRADE: A-
BONUS CONTENT: D-
Published December 13, 2008