The Dark Knight (Blu-ray)

In The Dark Knight, Batman sets out to destroy organised crime in Gotham City for good, with the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and committed new District Attorney Harvey Dent. The triumvirate initially proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as The Joker, who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces The Dark Knight ever closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.

The Dark KnightThink you know Batman? Then think again. Nolan and the gang have taken what they did in Batman Begins and, while ramping up the action, have dialled down the happiness to almost nil. This is not a superhero movie, not by a long shot. I've never considered Batman a superhero anyway — he has no super powers, just incredible skills and access to some wonderful toys — and Nolan appears to agree. He's the first director to truly take Batman out of the comics and set him firmly in the real world. The Dark Knight is a grim, grittly, relentless crime thriller that just happens to have a couple of its characters wearing crazy costumes. And speaking of crazy, how about Ledger's Joker? This really is the definitive portrayal of the character — forget Nicholson, forget Romero, forget even Hamill in the animated series. THIS is the Joker as he was meant to be portrayed: sick, twisted, evil, psychotic — the personification of chaos itself. He's a complete nihilist, who is not out for fame or fortune, but desires destruction simply for its own sake. Not to take anything away from the other actors — they all shine, particularly Eckhart as Dent. The script is perfect, and though the film is long at just over 2½ hours, it's never dull. Nolan has managed to completely wipe the Schumacher/Goldsman abortion, Batman & Robin, from our collective memories. If he's making a Batman trilogy (and fingers crossed, let's hope he does) then The Dark Knight is his Godfather II or The Empire Strikes Back. It's a masterpiece, and possibly the best film of the year.

EXTRAS ★★★ No audio commentary, deleted scenes or gag reel, disappointingly. But you do get three making-of featurettes (Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene, Batman Tech, and Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight); Gotham Tonight (6 episodes of a Gotham City cable news show); four galleries (The Joker cards, Concept Art, Poster Art and Production Stills); trailers; and TV commercials.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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