The dust has settled and Christopher Nolan‘s final Batman film The Dark Knight Rises has seen a theatrical release and is now widely available on home video. The Blu-Ray release marks yet another impressive IMAX-shifting ratio presentation that smoothly transitions the film from widescreen to mega-full. Asking whether or not this disc is worth a purchase solely based on the tech-side of things is pointless, because there’s no way WB wasn’t going to make this a blockbuster disc worth a purchase, even for non-Batman fans.
Eight long years have passed and Batman (Christian Bale) hasn’t been seen since the night of Harvey Dent’s death and The Joker’s capturing. Gotham is slowly rebuilding itself, while a fire rises in the form of the mysterious mercenary known as Bane (Tom Hardy). While Bane grows stronger and stronger, feeding on the weak and hopeless Gotham City residents, Bruce must decide if he still has it in him to bring back the Batman.
With a little encouragement from the do-gooder cop Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Batman returns to help clear Gotham of its new evil before it’s too late. This time the stakes are higher as Bane is looking to destroy everything in a quicker and more deadly fashion than The Joker’s diabolical plan to turn the city on itself.
Christopher Nolan had a lot riding on him going into this film, especially since The Dark Knight is considered the comic book movie that really changed the genre into something serious and because of the late Heath Ledger’s amazing turn as the iconic villain The Joker. Nolan was wise to choose the less-popular DC character Bane to challenge Bats, because Bane is a brute with a brain and he’s not afraid to literally brake Batman, opposed to playing with his mind and mentally wearing him down, like previous foes.
The Dark Knight Rises works tremendously as a conclusion to a trio of films that kept increasing in quality with each outing. The film is much more a companion piece to Batman Begins than The Dark Knight, but that’s mostly because it’s kind of hard to touch up on The Dark Knight without bringing in The Joker and that just isn’t possible here.
The film’s weakest moments are specifically Bane’s voice re-edit and the film’s twisty reveal that is predictable and painfully formulaic. They changed Bane’s voice from the previously released IMAX footage, to help the viewer’s understand him more and in doing so they created an effect that always sounds like it’s coming from the other room or from the editing bay. Tom Hardy does his best to remind us of the character’s driving purpose, but the voice clashes several times in the film and pushes us further from Bane’s dominance. One minute it sounds dark and brooding and the next hilariously off-beat and distracting.
The twist almost doesn’t even count as one, because it’s established straight-forward with a single character that shows no purpose until the very end. It’s obvious and carries little weight, undermining some key characters. There’s also the whole class warfare thing that gets shoved into the film’s opening act to try and feel extra relevant and while it does cater to the rest of the film’s structure it mostly has no thematic impact.
I still had an absolute blast with The Dark Knight Rises because of Nolan’s commitment to making a dark and realistic story about one of the most popular comic book heroes of all-time. The Dark Knight Rises might not carry dialogue as memorable as The Dark Knight, but it closes up the saga on a high note and it brings everything together in a way that makes you feel like you’re finished with Batman for the time being and you’re okay with that. I’m not holding high hopes for the eventual Justice League film.
The Dark Knight Rises comes to Blu-Ray with a marvelous-looking 1080p video transfer that shifts from traditional widescreen to the screen-filling and eye-popping IMAX presentation, which takes up the entire screen. Colors look brighter and the general image structure is much sharper when presented in the IMAX ratio, but that never holds the rest of the film back. The transfer is mostly dark and full of unpleasing colors, but never have they looked so damn good before!
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is a bone-snapping, explosion-heavy track that’s a whiz-bang of Batman effects that’ll push you back into your seat and keep you constantly wanting more and more. Everything about this track is loud and up-close and that is precisely why it’s one of the best tracks WB has to offer.
Here’s a list of the bonus material found on the discs:
- Second Screen Experience (HD)
- Production (HD)
- Characters (HD)
- Reflections (HD)
- The Batmobile (HD)
- Trailer Archive (HD)
- DVD Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
I can’t say that I’m overly impressed with the bonus materials provided on this combo pack, but I also can’t say that I’m too surprised either. Nolan has been known for not providing audio commentaries on his films and you know WB plans on releasing some sort of Ultimate Edition trilogy next year, perhaps with hours upon hours of unseen Batman footage from all three films. The only real bummer about this entire package is the fact that most of the special features are good, but feel too glossed over.
Aside from that this is a killer package, with a picture transfer that shifts between ratios with ease and an audio track that provides you with almost too much detail. You can literally hear every single punch and kick delivered by Batman.
The movie might have a couple of flaws, but it provides a strong enough conclusion that sort of makes the stuff that didn’t work too well feel like subjects that could have been extended if the film was split into two. I’m glad Nolan didn’t take it down that path, but part of me would love to see what he could have come up with. The Dark Knight Rises isn’t my personal favorite of the series (that will forever remain to Batman Begins), but it’s the strongest entry when viewing the trilogy as a whole.
Fans of the series will want to close up the trilogy with a purchase of this disc, unless you absolutely need every single piece of bonus material, which in that case I’d highly advise waiting for the eventual collector’s edition box set which is bound to happen sooner or later.
Christopher Nolan ends his epic Batman trilogy with a strong conclusion that closes things on a high note. Michael Caine steals the show, providing a heart-wrenching performance that overshadows Tom Hardy's menacing Bane and Christian Bale's grizzly and worn down Batman. The Dark Knight Rises might very well be the best Batman movie ever made.