With the first subtle thunder of Hans Zimmer's notes, it feels as through not even a second has passed since we were last in the world of Christopher Nolan's Batman. In reality, it has been four years since The Dark Knight film, itself, and eight years in Gotham since the night of Harvey Dent's death. The Dark Knight Rises hurls its faithful audience right back in without so much as a second for speculation. The Blu-ray arrives just in time for the holiday season. After all, what better gift to give a super fan than the final chapter of one of the few most successful trilogies in moviemaking history?
In addition to the beloved regulars, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman, one must give due credit to the new Batman faces. Tom Hardy has taken the character of Bane out of the comic book side-character ashes and into the limelight with a more obscure, less brutish performance. On the other hand, Anne Hathaway delivered a fairly typical femme fatal Catwoman. I'm not knocking the fantastic cat suit by any means, it might have just been nice to see the character go a different direction. Marion Cotillard has proven her ability to costar in multiple American blockbusters, this time as a debutante with an ulterior plan. Finally, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a refreshing addition and gives us the best darn Batman and Robin movie we've seen, yet (even if we didn't know it until the last five minutes).
Unlike The Dark Knight Blu-ray, which received waves of criticism, The Dark Knight Rises transfer looks great. There are no halo beams of light where they shouldn't be, and the 1080p doesn't kill the shadows at all. The caves and catacombs are dark and murky. The daylight snow is crisp and white. Nothing appears over-exposed as was so complained about in the last installment.
The audio quality is even more spectacular. Ever rustle of paper, drop of water, and breaking of bone rings out with crystal clarity. The only thing that is not crystal clear is Bane's voice, which still has the same muffle it did in the theater. However, the guy is wearing a breathing mask and, although difficult to understand at times, the muffle adds an element of reality to the character and experience.
Perhaps the most intriguing bit of The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray is the second disk containing a treasure trove of special features. Granted, they are particularly difficult to navigate. “The Batmobile” is a documentary which focuses on every incarnation of the beloved vehicle from the earliest comics, to TV, to movies, and to the tumbler. “Ending the Knight” is a collection of featurettes from production to characters, to reflections. The production featurette was extremely refreshing as it demonstrated every practical effect used in the film (more than I ever knew). It was a joy to see Batman's newest flying “Bat” really “flying” through city streets atop a crane. It was also a treat to hear Hans Zimmer talk about how he took his incredible score and journeyed to morph it into Bane's music. Finally, the “Reflections” segment takes us inside the lives of all the cast and crew who have more or less lived Batman for the last eight years. The special features also contain Print Campaign Art Galleries, which show off 31 pieces of promotional poster art.
This Blu-ray marks the end of an era. It is the final chapter in the Nolan Batman franchise. Where the caped crusader will venture next, no one knows. In the meantime, we can all enjoy The Dark Knight Rises in near perfect visual and audio preservation forever. Well, until the next box set release, anyway.
The Dark Knight Rises available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and for download 12/4.