The Dark Knight Rises – Steelbook (Blu-ray)

June 3, 2014 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Unless you’ve been hiding in your Bat Cave for the last year or so, you’ll know that the third and final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy came out.  The series was first (re) launched back in 2005 when Nolan took the franchise over from Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, who turned it into more of a circus act than anything of cinematic value.  This approach has been done with The Hulk and now The Amazing Spider-Man (and soon to be Superman) as well.  Nolan is a visionary director and the way he handed “The Dark Knight” was just that – very dark.  We’ve got villains that are actually deranged and insane, not just muscle-bound guys who put on spandex.  Of course it’s hard to mention this new line of Batman movies without acknowledging the second in the franchise.  The late Heath Ledger earned a posthumous Academy Award  for his portrayal of The Joker, so the stage was set and the bar very high with The Dark Knight Rises.

Eight years have passed since Gotham City has last seen Batman.  Harvey Dent (portrayed by Aaron Eckhart in the second film) is now a martyr and a symbol for supposed justice in the city.  Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) is now a recluse in his mansion, watching the world from the inside.  But a new villain by the name of Bane (Tom Hardy) has plans for Gotham City which just might get Batman out again.  After a brief scuffle, Wayne is relegated to a prison in which there is little chance for escape.  Bane now has Gotham City in the palm of his hand and plans to destroy it using a modified nuclear bomb he attained from Wayne’s now defunct empire.  Not all hope is lost, however, as on again/off again “ally” Selene Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and officer/Detective Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are trying to solve the mystery as well.  But, will they be in time to save Gotham City from certain destruction?

This third and final installment lived up to the hype and though it didn’t do quite the box office that its predecessor did, I think Warner is still pretty proud of what the caped crusader has brought to them in terms of money.  In addition to the mainstay cast of Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Christian Bale, the addition of Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy (the former two are Nolan regulars) brought this movie up a few notches  Does it answer all of the questions that abounded?  No.  Does it raise some new ones?  Almost certainly.  But Nolan and his staff has crafted a very taught, tense and emotionally gripping film that’s certainly epic in its own right.  Odds are that every fan will have their favorite installment in the series (for me, it’s still the first) but no matter your point of view, The Dark Knight Rises is a must-see.

Video: How’s it look?

This is the same great transfer as before. The AVC encoded image is quite stunning. The ratio shifts from time to time, but it never presented a problem. Black levels are solid and rich. Details are strong throughout. Watch for the details when Bane and Batman are having their first fight. You can clearly see the bumps along Bane’s body in fine detail. The stubble on Bane’s head is also apparent in a number of scenes as well. This is certainly a darker film in its look, but that never became a problem. There are plenty of shots of the busy city that showcases strong visuals.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track is also strong (as expected) and pretty much never gives up. You might have to adjust the volume during the film, but it’s never less than robust. There’s plenty of action in the film and that adds some impact to the track. No issues here, the track is one of the better you’re likely to hear and presents the film as it should. You might require subtitles for some of Bane’s dialouge, but that’s no fault of the track. It can be hard to understand exactly what he’s saying all the time.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This is the Best Buy Exclusive Steel-Book edition. It also includes a documentary (The Dark Knight Reborn) exclusive to this release. There are 3 discs (2 Blu-ray and one DVD) included and a digital copy code. There’s also inner art that features Bane’s back as he’s walking away after the fight between he and Batman and Batman’s mask on the ground.

  • The Dark Knight RebornSteel-Book Exclusive (38:06) This is the lone exclusive documentary to this release and it’s very worth watching. It gives a nice into into all three of Chris Nolan’s Batman films. We learn about what they hoped to achieve with these films and how they came about. Realistic is a word thrown around often in this documentary and how Nolan wanted to keep everything grounded in reality. This is a welcome edition to this release and helps make purchasing the steel-book an easier decision.
  • Ending the Knight – There are three sections here all with smaller vignettes. 1) Production – This includes several smaller sections that pretty much cover all aspects of the film. 2) Characters – This includes three sections (The Journey of Bruce Wayne, Gotham’s Reckoning and A Girl’s gotta eat). This covers Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle and Bane. I especially enjoyed the segment about Bane and his physicality and wardrobe. 3) Reflections – This features two smaller sections, one about the Imax format and the other about bringing the trilogy to an end.
  • The Batmobile – This is a nearly hour-long documentary chronicling the evolution of the batmobile. It features interviews with several people and gives plenty of background not just on the batmobile, but also Bruce Wayne’s story as well. Plenty of ground is covered and it’s well worth a look.
  • Trailer Archive – 4 trailers for the film are shown here.
  • Print Campaign Art Gallery – Posters and stills for the film
  • DVD/Digital Copy
  • Dark Knight Rises App – I don’t bother with these features, but you can sync the film to your iPad if you wish.

Disc Scores