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I have The Dark Knight sitting next to me. It's bizarre, really, having spent the last 6 months thinking about the movie as a cultural phenomenon, seeing it in theaters three times and writing about it constantly, trying to wrap my mind around it. Now here it is, packaged in plastic, ready to join the others on my shelf.
That weird thrill is about all there is to recommend this particular DVD version of The Dark Knight, though. Completely bare bones, with nothing more than language selections and a scene menu, it's the movie you've been waiting for and nothing more. The expanded editions cost just $5-8 more and are likely well more worth your money.
What's left to say about The Dark Knight really? Upon second and third viewings it become an even trickier movie, presenting new moral questions and plot puzzles in places you thought were resolved the first time around. If you haven't seen the movie since opening weekend, you may find you've forgotten the wry humor of Eric Roberts' mob boss character, or how thrilling the scene of the mayor's funeral is.
The plot, just for refresher's sake. A year after Batman Begins, Gotham's criminals live in fear of Batman, just as a rash of copycats try and help out but only make things more difficult for the Caped Crusader (Christian Bale). With Batman technically a vigilante, the actual face of crimebusting in Gotham is new D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who is quickly earning the nickname "Gotham's White Knight." Batman is intrigued by Dent given his ability to bring the city out of the shadows, but also jealous of the relationship he's struck up with Batman's old flame Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
But Dent and Batman's rivalry is swiftly overcome with the arrival of the Joker (Heath Ledger), an unhinged demon set upon driving Gotham into chaos. Dent, Batman and soon-to-be- Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) are tasked with catching him, which also involves tangling with Gotham's mob bosses (led by Eric Roberts) and a particularly snaky Hong Kong accountant. (Chin Han). But Batman, troubled by his city's reliance on a man who lives in the shadows and seeking a way out, is a step behind the Joker the whole way, and he and Gotham suffer in the process.
The expertly spun story unravels over a series of spectacular action sequences, including a nighttime airlift over Hong Kong and, most memorably, an 18-wheeler flipping over head first on a deserted street. There are explosions, car chases, villains taunting victims like mice, and a badass Batpod, but the thrill of the action never outweighs the somber intentions of Christopher Nolan's story. Gotham's dark times are undoubtedly ours as well.
Everyone has their favorite parts of this movie. Everyone has the scene they can't wait to revisit and pause frame by frame, just to see how they did it (you can bet I watched the Batpod flip around that wall in slow motion at least three times). The single-disc edition of The Dark Knight provides that opportunity, for sure. As for anything else it provides, well...
Well... it's got The Dark Knight on it, so that automatically earns it a star. Other than that, though, you're way better off spending the extra $5 on one of the editions with extras. Having the movie itself is great, sure, but the early looks I've gotten at the extras have been so intriguing that I can't imagine actually spending $15 on this. Don't be a cheap bastard!
But if you don't have a choice, and you're a cheap bastard through and through, the picture and sound quality you'll find here are just fine. I watched it on my laptop, which has pretty great speakers and a top-notch screen, and it all looked and sounded great, though maybe a bit darker than I remembered. (After all, though, this is The Dark Knight). The packaging is standard DVD plastic cover, but there's not even a booklet inside with scene selections-- just a little catalog where you can order Dark Knight crap like a Batarang money clip, and a booklet advertising Blu-Ray. Yeah, yeah, I get it. I should have a Blu-Ray player. Shut up about it already!
It's important to note that this edition, along with all the other extended versions, comes with a free digital copy that you can download at WB's site. When I tried to go to the site it was down, but with a card that comes inside the DVD it seems pretty simple to get the download.
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