has an average rating of 8.3 on IMDb
1080p in VC-1 on a 50gb disc
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 & Dolby Digital 5.1
include “The Dark Knight” Prologue
– 140 minutes
Overall Verdict – Highly Recommended
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself was Directed by Christopher Nolan who helped reinvent (or “reboot” so-to-speak) the “Batman” franchise for Warner. The original story was written by the very talented David S. Goyer who also ended up co-writing the final Screenplay with the film’s Director Christopher Nolan. Taking on the role both of “Bruce Wayne” and “Batman” is Christian Bale who most of you remember from the film “American Psycho” in which he played a very dark character. Playing the lovable butler “Alfred” is legendary British actor Michael Caine. This film is not a sequel to the previous “Batman” films from the late 80′s and 90′s but instead a fresh new start on the franchise as I mentioned earlier. We see things start off with a young “Bruce” playing with is friend “Rachel” on the grounds of Wayne Manor. Bruce manages to fall down a shaft and is frightened to discover a cave filled with bats. This traumatic experience seems to scar Bruce for life but not as much as the event about to happen. During a night on the town for the Wayne’s the family is subject to a mugging in which the one criminal “Joe Chill” shoots both of Bruce’s parents. This varies only slightly from past iterations of the “Batman” story in both comic book and in film(s).
In a quest to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful Bruce travels the world. Along the way he meets a man named “Henri Ducard” (played by Liam Neeson) who convinces him to train under “Ra’s Al-Ghul” (played by Ken Watanabe) in pretty much a ninja cult. Bruce learns most of his fighting skills here but eventually returns to his home of Gotham City to try to use what he’s learned for good. He returns only to find the city in a corrupt state with a mafia leader named “Carmine Falcone” (played by Tom Wilkinson) in control. Bruce’s old friend “Rachel Dawes” (played by Katie Holmes) has grown up now to be assistant to the District Attorney for the city. Rachel clues Bruce in on just how bad shape the city is actually in. It’s up to our (soon-to-be) “Dark Knight” to take on the role of a masked crusader who uses his wits, strength and technology to fight the sinister forces that threaten the city and those he loves.
“Batman Begins” has a great cast of actors with Gary Oldman playing “Jim Gordon” , Cillian Murphy playing “Dr. Jonathan Crane / “The Scarecrow” and Morgan Freeman playing “Lucius Fox.” The film did an amazing job of re-inventing the “Batman” franchise for Warner after a string of unsuccessful films in the late 90′s. Director Christopher Nolan has followed this first film up with the highly anticipated upcoming sequel “The Dark Knight” as well which is sure to be a hit. I’m personally very happy to finally see this make it’s way onto Blu-ray Disc after being an exclusive title to the late HD-DVD format for quite some time.
Video Quality on this release is 1080p in VC-1 on a BD-50 — 50 gigabyte Dual-Layered Blu-ray Disc. This was filmed on Panavision Cameras and Lenses using 35mm film (according to IMDb) and also received 70mm blowup prints for the IMAX presentation however unlike the sequel was not shot using IMAX cameras. The black level found here is very solid as you’d expect for a “dark” film of this nature, fleshtones are perfect and the overall color palette is vibrant. There’s a tiny bit of film grain present from the 35mm negative transfer to High Definition but I found it to be pleasing visually — as it adds a more cinematic feel to the film. A large amount of detail is found here and that’s much thanks to the studio opting to not use any digital filters such as DNR (digital noise reduction) or EE (Edge Enhancement) and keeping the original film presentation intact. No signs of any compression issues here at all, very happy to report that. This doesn’t seem to offer any visual improvement over the previous HD-DVD release since it appears to be from the same master source but it does look stunning. This earns a very respectable “4.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality.
Audio Quality on this release is in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 @640kbps. This offers a pretty damn impressive 5.1 presentation. Dialogue is delivered very distinctively and the Score (Music) by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard comes through very nice in the 5.1 surround soundscape. There’s at times a very good bass presence found here, namely near the middle portion of the film and out. The “batmobile” has a loud thunderous roar to it in this TrueHD 5.1 mix that I remember hearing when originally seeing the film in it’s theatrical run. The sound effects such as gunfire, explosions and so forth all come across very realistic in this sound mix. This earns itself a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality and is by all means just as much “demo material” on Blu-ray Disc as it was on HD-DVD (back in the day).
Bonus Materials are mostly presented in Standard Definition (480i/p) using MPEG-2 for video and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo for sound. The only feature that is in High Definition (1080i/p) using VC-1 for video and Dolby Digital 5.1 (@640kbps) is “The Dark Knight Prologue” featurette. This is after all a Limited Edition Gift Set version of the film on Blu-ray that includes quite a few neat physical extras (most of which are pictured below).
Limited Edition Giftset includes the following items:
- “Movie Money” to see “The Dark Knight” in theaters — a $7.50 value.
- An exclusive 32-page booklet featuring script pages, storyboards and film stills from “The Dark Knight” Prologue.
- 16-page DC Comic Book adaptation of “The Dark Knight” Prologue.
- “Batman Begins” Lenticular Art.
- 5 Collectible Postcards
Bonus Materials on the Blu-ray Disc include:
- “The Dark Knight” Prologue (7 minutes) in High Definition and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. This is the first 6 minutes of the upcoming sequel “The Dark Knight” which was filmed partially using IMAX cameras. This proves to be absolutely amazing and even include about 30 seconds roughly of clips from the film after the prologue ends. We get introduced to “The Joker” here which serves as a great sneak peek and marketing tool.
- “In-Movie-Experience” is a Picture-in-Picture (PIP) experience that uses Bonus View to display content as you’re watching the movie. This was originally included on the HD-DVD release but now as I just mentioned is using Bonus View on Blu-ray which requires you to have a Blu-ray Disc Player that is “Profile 1.1″ capable. There’s tons of entertaining and informative material to be found here but sadly the occasional “dead spots” of the film where nothing is included in the PIP window. Overall though I’ll say this still remains one of my favorite “In-Movie-Experience” presentations to-date.
- “Reflections on Writing” (2 minutes) takes a look at David S. Goyer‘s original story and such.
- “Digital Batman” (1 minute) focuses on the very small usage of CGI digital effects in the film.
- “Batman Begins” Stunts (3 minutes) is pretty self-explanatory with it’s title.
- “Tankman Begins” (5 minutes) is a parody of the film that was done for the MTV Movie Awards with the host that year, the always annoying Jimmy Fallon.
- “The Journey Begins” (14 minutes) serves as your basic “making of” style featurette. This includes some awesome interviews with Director Christopher Nolan and Writer David S. Goyer.
- “Shaping Mind and Body” (13 minutes) takes a look at the physical training Actor Christian Bale had to undergo for this role.
- “Gotham City Rises” (13 minutes) gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the production design of the Gotham City, The Batcave and Wayne Manor.
- “Cape and Cowl” (8 minutes) focuses on the “Batman” costume and it’s design for this new suit.
- “Batman – The Tumbler” (14 minutes) looks at the creation of the all new “batmobile” — that obviously resembles a tank.
- “Path to Discovery” (14 minutes) features footage on the filming on location in Iceland and how “Batman” gains his fighting skills.
- “Saving Gotham City” (13 minutes) shows how the action sequences were filmed using as little CGI as possible. This is definitely worth the watch to both fans of the film and general fans of action films.
- “Genesis of the Bat” (15 minutes) gives us a brief history of the comic book character and his evolution over the decades.
- “Stills Gallery” is filled with both U.S. and International theatrical posters as well as designs done for the film’s marketing campaign.
- “Confidential Files” is an interactive feature that lets viewers discover facts, trivia and story points that were not revealed in the film itself.
- Theatrical Trailer (1 minute)
Overall, the bonus materials we get here are extremely impressive. You’ve got all the original DVD and HD-DVD bonus materials included and even the “In-Movie-Experience” (picture-in-picture) ported over using Bonus View. Plus you have the first 6 minutes of the upcoming sequel included in full High Definition video. The physical items included in the giftset are very nice considering the inexpensive price tag this currently sales for. Hats off to Warner for a job well done on this release.
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.