Visit the quant city of Gotham as our hero Batman fights for his life, and his sanity, in The Dark Knight, which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray. Also on store shelves this week, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!, and the Blu-ray release of Dr. Strangelove.
The Dark Knight [DVD & Blu-ray]
Christopher Nolan’s 2005 reboot of the Batman franchise reinvigorated one of comic-doms greatest heroes, with a depth and understanding of the character that gave Batman and Bruce Wayne new ground to explore. But even after that film, The Dark Knight has gone much further, taking the dank mood of the entire Batman universe, and giving it a place to live on screen.
The Dark Knight opens with Heath Ledger’s darkly comedic Joker in the midst of a bank robbery. Acting as an agent of chaos, as he puts it, the Joker has a plan to bring Gotham to its knees in a bid to help the mob keep its dirty money out of the hands of The Batman. Meanwhile, Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart, is trying to work with the police to put the mob behind bars, and that dirty money would go a long way to locking a majority of those criminals up for years.
Christian Bale returns as our caped crusader, but this time out our hero has to deal with copy bats (excuse the pun) who are out on the street trying to help him fight crime. He also has to face the reality that Rachel Dawes, played this time around by Maggie Gyllenhaal, has moved on and is now with Harvey Dent. Complicating matters is the fact that Bruce also envisions Harvey as Gotham’s true saviour, a good man who can show his face to the city, while protecting people from the criminals. But the biggest problem will be making sure the Joker doesn’t ruin all of that.
While Bale certainly continues admirably in The Dark Knight, rumbling through his scenes with force, wit, and his usual charm, Ledger’s rendition of the Joker is a frenetic force to be reckoned with, and he owns every scene he inhabits.
It speaks volumes about Ledger and the way he dove into this character that the Joker doesn’t even need to say much to get a lot across. The camera lingers on Ledger’s face in nearly every scene, and you can see him forming every sentence like he is stabbing someone with each vowel. It’s a stunning performance, dark and brooding, but amazingly funny at the same time, and as Ledger’s last role in life, it will inevitably be his most notable.
Aside from our hero and our villain epically facing off as distorted mirror images of each other, Nolan jumbles things a little in The Dark Knight. It is not as focused as Batman Begins, but it is far more fulfilling, with a much more layered storyline. With Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and of course Oldman disappearing into the role of Lt. Gordon, there is also not a bad scene to be had from any of the brilliant supporting cast.
Features on the special edition Blu-ray package are actually not that special. The first disc has some making-of featurettes, that you can watch during the film, and the second disc is almost completely pure fluff, aimed primarily at a younger audience.
Features aside though and this is easily one of the year’s best films, and one of the most compelling comic book adaptations ever made.
Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!
Dr. Seuss created some of the most memorable children’s stories ever written, and today his influence is still felt around the world by young readers and adults alike. With the animated film Horton Hears a Who!, starring Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, fans finally get a feature-length film that captures some of Seuss’ genius – especially in comparison to failed adaptations like The Cat In The Hat.
The story is as wild, and fantastic as you could hope for, with all of the requisite brains and charm. Horton (Carrey) the elephant lives in the jungle of Nool and one day discovers that there is a little creature living on a speck of dust that is on top of a flower. Actually, not only is there a creature on the speck, but a whole city, the town of Who-ville to be exact, and the little creature is the Mayor of the town (voiced by Carell). Horton decides that he has to protect the speck, and despite being ridiculed by his friends in the jungle, tries to keep it from the clutches of Vlad and his rather bad friends.
Like all of Seuss’ work, Horton Hears a Who! covers a number of topics that you might call inspirational, especially to young minds, as well as a positive message that won’t make you feel like you’re being hit over the head. It is also one of those great movies that you can watch with your kids and not feel like it’s strictly made for children. That, in essence, is what defined Dr. Seuss and it’s refreshing to see it finally being done right on screen.
Dr. Strangelove [Blu-ray]
Lastly, Stanley Kubrick mind-blowing classic, Dr. Strangelove (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) arrives on Blu-ray. Sterling Hayden, Peter Sellers, and George C. Scott, this dark comedy has the U.S. trying to avoid a nuclear war with the U.S.S.R., which could very well trigger the total destruction of life on Earth.
Telelvision on DVD…
Get ready for new episodes of Lost in January with the release of the complete fourth season this week, complete with every twist and turn, and numerous extras that explore more of what is happening on the island.
Also out this week, pick up the complete series of The Wire, Desperate Housewives season four, and the third season of Grey’s Anatomy.