The Dark Knight Review and Bluray Features
The Dark Knight
18 Jul 2008
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Chasing Unknown Vehicle
While the movie was filming a chase scene on Lake Street, the Chicago Police Department received several calls from concerned citizens stating that the police were involved in a vehicle pursuit with a dark vehicle of unknown make or model.
Reason for different BATSUIT in this film
According to Christopher Nolan, Bruce Wayne’s reasons for needing a new Batsuit (to be faster and more agile) were, in fact, the real reasons why Nolan wanted the Batsuit to be redesigned for this film
ACADEMY Award Nominations
The comic book film with the most Academy Award nominations (8).
TOTAL NO. OF AWARDS WON BY HEATH LEDGER
Heath Ledger posthumously won a total of 32 Best Supporting Actor awards for his work on this film, including the Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG and Critics’ Choice award.
Resemblance with animated series(Batman’s eyes in HOSTAGE Scene)
The lenses that cover Batman’s eyes during the hostage rescue scene give him a look that’s close to the comic and animated adaptations, where Batman’s eyes are often visible in the dark while the rest of his body is blacked out.
Infamous BATMAN’s GROWL (and other work done by the director)
The infamous growl performed by Christian Bale was much rougher in this film than Batman Begins (2005) and has been parodied countless times due to its extreme nature, however the common misconception is that Christian Bale was fully responsible for this voice. The real voice during filming was more toned down and then heightened to a rougher, grittier vibe during post-production under the decision of director Christopher Nolan.
BATSONAR used in the film
The console for the Bat Sonar resembles “The Listening Post”, Mark Hasen and Ben Rubin’s dynamic portrait of online communication, especially when Lucius Fox and Batman switch it off. The installation is currently on display at the Science Museum in London.
Shocking Expression on Michael Caine’s Face (FAMOUS SCENE)
During the scene where the Joker crashes Bruce Wayne’s party for Harvey, when he first appears in the elevator Alfred was meant to have some lines, however this was the first time Michael Caine had seen Heath Ledger with the Joker make up on, you can even see the shocked expression on his face as the Joker walks past him.
Preparation for the role (JOKER)
In preparation for his role as The Joker, Heath Ledger hid away in a motel room for about six weeks. During this extended stay of seclusion, Ledger delved deep into the psychology of the character. He devoted himself to developing The Joker’s every tic, namely the voice and that sadistic-sounding laugh (for the voice, Ledger’s goal was to create a tone that didn’t echo the work Jack Nicholson did in his 1989 performance as the Joker). Ledger’s interpretation of The Joker’s appearance was primarily based on the chaotic, disheveled look of punk rocker Sid Vicious combined with the psychotic mannerisms of Malcolm McDowell’s character, Alex De Large, from A Clockwork Orange(1971).
Makeup designed by Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger designed the Joker make-up himself, using white clown makeup and cosmetics from a drugstore, reasoning that since the Joker himself would design and apply it, Ledger should do so as well. Once his design was approved, the makeup team was responsible for replicating the look each day for filming.
Problem using IMAX CAMERAS in the Film
The IMAX cameras used in filming proved to be problematic for the crew. Dialog that was recorded on film is very noisy so it had to be replaced during post-production. An IMAX camera is very heavy and it cannot be used hand held. Instead, special mounts had to be created to support the weight. Finally, they had to get the shots right as it takes 5 days to process the negative instead of the conventional negative
Batman violated the code of not killing enemies (DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS)
VERY IMPORTANT PART RELATED TO THE MOVIE
There is no definitive answer. Some say Batman broke his code; others say he did not. The answers hinge on interpretation of intent and outcome. Some argue that even if Batman accidentally kills one of his foes, it is still a violation of the code, while others argue that an accidental killing does not count.
One interpretation: Batman did break his one rule in order to save Gordon’s son, which is what the Joker prophesied earlier in the film by saying, “Tonight you’re going to break your one rule.” However, the Joker’s initial plan was to get Batman to kill the Joker himself; showing that everyone is corruptible. Batman beat him and showed that the Joker couldn’t force him to break his rule. Later, Batman chooses to break his rule by killing Two-Face. The moral is that Batman won’t be forced into doing anything by a maniac. He chooses to do the right thing even though people might hate him for it.
Another interpretation: Batman pushed Two-Face away to save Gordon’s son, but Two-Face wouldn’t let the boy go. Batman’s choice was to save Gordon’s son and let Two-Face fall or vice-versa. Batman chose to let Two-Face fall; but he didn’t kill him.
3rd Interpretation: No, Batman did not violate his code. At the end of Batman Begins, his final words to Ra’s al Ghul were, “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.” When faced with the choice of saving the innocent or bringing the guilty to justice, Batman will always choose the former. Had he stopped the train, the water under Wayne Enterprises would have been vaporized as well, with catastrophic results. With regards to the next question, there were still innocent lives at stake when he chose not to save Ra’s. In the Joker’s case, there was no imminent collateral damage for Batman to consider. Therefore, he could safely apprehend Joker without causing innocent people to be harmed, which was the completely opposite course of events the Joker had intended.
4th Interpretation: Batman killed Two-Face by accident. He did not mean to actually kill Two-Face when he tackled him, but merely meant to overpower him and lost control in the scuffle. Seeing as how an innocent life was at stake, Batman simply acted on reflex to protect the innocent (Gordon’s son) and miscalculated the amount of strength necessary to take on Two-Face, leading to his death.
RT/Meta Critic Review
It’s too long and Nolan tosses in too many twists near the end. But it delivers ongoing adrenalin rushes, mental popcorn to chew over and a rich atmosphere to get lost in. And it’s impressive enough to rank as summer’s strongest blockbuster. (Click here to see)
Most of the film is entertaining. The cast is uniformly excellent and the resounding praise aimed at the late Heath Ledger is deserved. (Click here to see)
The Dark Knight takes the process a giant leap further, transforming a typical summer blockbuster into a brooding, unsettling reflection on the increasingly blurry boundaries between good and evil.(Click here to see)
Ledger’s performance is monumental, but The Dark Knight lives up to it. Nolan cements his position as Hollywood’s premier purveyor of blockbuster smarts – and the Batbike is kinda cool, too. (Click here to see) (MetaCritic)
Around the time it came to theaters, many BD collectors already had a preview on their HDTVs showing the superior resolution of The Dark Knight. Its prologue was included on the Blu-ray version of Batman Begins. Since that prologue sequence was shot using IMAX cameras, the question arose how it would integrate with other sequences–whether Nolan would opt for 2.4:1 throughout the BD, or deliver dual aspect ratios to more closely approximate the full resolution of the source material. The question is now put to rest. Approximating the viewing experience in IMAX theaters, the Blu-ray version of The Dark Knight shifts between 1.78:1 and 2.4:1 sequences, which is a tremendous asset in preserving the vision of the filmmaker and in attempting to get an IMAX-like experience in viewers’ home theaters. The prologue, as well as other 1.78:1 sequences, appear with lifelike detail and good depth. Some have complained about the subtle use of edge enhancement as detracting from the overall picture quality, but I believe what they are seeing is an ever-so-slight glow effect that makes the bright areas of some scenes appear heightened. Deducting points for this type of brightness would be silly. Meanwhile, the black level is remarkable as it conveys all gradations of grey and retains very good definition. Since so much of the film has dark, dimly lit scenes, the inky blacks contribute greatly to the depth and weight of the picture.
So how does the resolution of the 2.4:1 content compare to the 1.78:1 picture quality? Believe it or not, the detail remains nearly consistent in both aspect ratios–there’s just more presence in the scenes shot using the IMAX cameras. Non-IMAX sequences give up surprisingly little in definition. Perhaps the most extraordinary scene to view the differences is when Batman raids the high rise building in Hong Kong to extract Lau (Chin Han). In the full IMAX resolution, with much of the screen enveloped in deep black, Batman is shown perched above the city. He then descends through the air, breaking through the window nearby the desk where Lau is working and quickly dispatches Lau’s body guards. Finally, as he holds Lau near the broken windows, both men are whisked out of the building by a floating device and a passing aircraft. The complicated, busy action coupled with poor lighting would be problematic if not for the detail delivered both by the 1.78:1 and 2.4:1 shots that make up the scene. While the IMAX picture is preferable because of a greater sense of depth and resolution, the 2.4:1 content shares its small, gentle grain and otherwise clean, highly detailed presentation. Some element of the grain has a digital sheen to it, but I cannot justify deducting a point or half-point for that.
Hardly a frame of The Dark Knight seems less than perfectly shot, framed and produced for 1080p. While videophiles can always nitpick, it’s important to put the picture quality in perspective by taking a look at Batman Begins. That BD lacked the vibrancy and detail that, thankfully, are on display throughout The Dark Knight. The comparison with the earlier film is no contest. Watch the IMAX aerial shot looking down on Wayne’s yacht. The extraordinary depth makes it appear that you could take off into the picture on a hang glider and float down to the water. The enticing video quality has a similar effect in the prologue, when two of the Joker’s henchman rappel from one building to another. The picture appears rich and deep, giving the illusion that one could step into the screen and rappel with them. Though these examples feature the extraordinary IMAX sequences, the 2.4:1 sequences often have this effect as well. Above all, the tremendous definition and delineation within dark areas of the screen push the picture of The Dark Knight all the way to reference quality.
In keeping with the dark visuals, the sound throughout The Dark Knight is weighted toward the lower registers with heavy LFE content. While the audio across the dynamic range is delivered in good detail, with plenty of resolution, the Dolby TrueHD content is clearly bass-heavy. It doesn’t have quite the 3D impact one might expect in an action movie, with very little content assigned assigned to the rear channels. But it is preferable to err on the conservative side than to have an overly aggressive surround soundstage where it is really not warranted. On the other hand, some multichannel audiophiles may nitpick that the surrounds are underutilized. The anchoring across the center channel delivers all the dialog, while the front left and right speakers provide the bulk of the score. The music by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard is less thematic and more of a mood amplifier to make the story more hard-hitting. Aside from the sound effects and subwoofer content, the soundtrack mostly disappears in the action and visuals. Looking back on it, that is a unique accomplishment for an action film, to be such a visual work of art that one hardly notices the score as sound. While all detail of the dialog and music is clearly articulated across the front channels, it often sounds diminutive in comparison to deeper content.
Listen to the scene where Batman, Lt. Gordon and Dent have a rooftop meeting together. Gordon’s and Dent’s voices are perfectly reproduced, crisp and detailed, yet they sound slightly anemic compared to Batman’s deeper, more open voice. While the audio engineering is actually very good, the bass emphasis can overshadow the more relaxed dialog, especially Gordon’s voice. This is a minor complaint, as all dialog is plainly audible and every word and breath expertly recorded. And of course, the advantage of having a pronounced LFE channel is on display throughout The Dark Knight. Listen to the scene where the 18 wheeler flips over its horizontal axis–an impressive bit of stuntwork–creating a cacaphony of deep bass rumble, crashing steel and other sound effects. Explosions, breaking glass, gunshots and other effects are impressively engineered. The amazing feature of the Dolby TrueHD track is that nothing gets lost in the mix, regardless of the minimal use of surrounds. One of the denizens at Blu-ray.com asked whether Warner’s BD defaulted to the Dolby Digital track, as many of its titles do. The answer is yes. It is imperitive to go into the menu immediately when the movie starts and select the TrueHD track.
To give a quick “supplements-at-a-glance” run-through, here is what is on the two BDs:
Disc 1: Gotham Uncovered–a mish-mash of standard definition and high-def content, clocking in at one hour, this multi-part documentary replaces the need for an audio track and focuses on the unique elements that went into the creation of the sets, props and the use of IMAX cameras. It’s a trove of information that no fan of The Dark Knight should miss. The amount of planning that went into the film are remarkable and carefully documented here. You can learn such details as the materials and production of the Bat suit and the difficulty in driving the Bat-pod. I would have liked to see more material covering Two-Face, since he was such a large part of the film and an explanation of how his face was handled in CGI. Some type of memorial content for Heath Ledger would have also been welcome. Unfortunately, no such documentary is included.
Focus Points–a rather hidden picture-in-picture option available in specific episodes that turn out to be the above-mentioned documentaries. Those who find PIP to be distracting will prefer to watch the content as Gotham Uncovered.
Disc 2: Batman Tech–as part of three hours worth of documentaries, this featurette explores the many weapons and utilities designed for Batman. Most of them are based on military equipment.
Batman Unmasked–subtitled The Psychology of The Dark Knight, this documentary focuses on psychotherapeutic analysis of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Frankly, this content would have been more appropriate for Batman Begins.
Gotham Tonight–a series of six newscasts averaging about eight minutes each. They all explore Batman and Bruce Wayne, as presented by “Gotham Cable’s Premier News Program”. The CNN-like news show played a role in several scenes of the main feature, but on its own, the newscasts seem a bit boring.
Galleries–watching the Joker cards rain down after the assassination of a judge in The Dark Knight, it is clear that many different types of cards are used. Here, they are all on display, along with TV spots and trailers, concept art, poster art and production stills.
Rounding out the bonus content are Warner invitations to participate in BD-Live and to unlock a digital (non-high definition) copy of The Dark Knight. The BD-Live features include “My Web Commentary”, where you can use your webcam and create your own PIP commentary over the film and share it with friends and the entire BD-Live community. It also includes “Live Community Screening”, which Warner bills as “an on-screen chat with the filmmakers while you watch the movie.” The BD-Live “Media Center” is advertised to have exclusive footage, trailers, photo galleries and more.
While not perfect, this content features enough interesting documentaries and extracurricular activities to keep one occupied for hours on end. And a word about the packaging–under the slipcase, the text on the back of the packaging artwork has been “marked up” with edits by the Joker. The brief description of the movie has been defaced and there is graffiti pointing to a photo of the Joker, “ME” and many “HA HA” and “BLAH BLAH” comments. This was a good finishing touch to a classic BD package: a combination of creepy and cute.