Nolan's third installment of the new Batman franchise concludes a trilogy that has captured the hearts and minds of movie-goers around the world. The Dark Knight Rises triumphs with an ending that can only be decided among its viewers. Beaten, broken, and alone - the Batman must find the strength to save the people of Gotham once again, against a powerful foe named Bane.
When asked, "Why do we fall...," we learn it is simply to rise up and face the challenges once thought to be impossible. Bruce Wayne learns this as a young boy when he fell into an old well at his family home. The will to rise up again and again never leaves him from that day on. The once vigilante and now hero, Bruce assumes the murder of Gotham’s beloved Harvey Dent in hope to help save his face (pun intended) among the people. With Gotham finally in a state of peace, Batman decides it may be time for him to step down as the caped crusader.
Broken, beaten and scared; Bruce Wayne locks himself away in his mansion, leaving all of Gotham to wonder what has become of him. In the meantime we learn Wayne Enterprises has invested in a save-the-world fusion reactor that has crippled the entire company. Withering away in his chambers, it’s not until a young cat burglar successfully swipes the family pearls that Bruce realizes he can't just give up. As he tracks down the savvy Catwoman, Bruce discovers she is only a pawn in a much bigger game. It wasn't his mother's pearls she was after...it was his finger prints.
Sold to a businessman looking to absorb Wayne Enterprises; the greedy and foolish CEO hires a masked man named Bane to destroy what is left of Wayne Enterprises. From here, Bruce must overcome his weakened body and mind, and attempt to stop Bane before it's too late.
Enough about that! Let's see what all this Blu-ray has to offer.
To my surprise, there are no trailers, commercials, or other promotional videos at the beginning of this disc. Instead, it plays directly to the menu. The design consists of several clips from the film that loop along with an inspirational and light melody. The menu options appear along the bottom and include: Play, Scene Selections, Audio, Subtitles, and Second Screen. The 'Scene Selections' option displays up to five scenes from the film. Each one is numbered and includes a snapshot from the scene. The 'Audio' option consists of several audio tracks. They include: English DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The 'Subtitle' options consist of the same languages as the audio tracks. The 'Second Screen' option requires viewers to download the 'Dark Knight Rises FX' app on their smart phone or tablet. Once downloaded, viewers can sync their device with their Blu-ray player so they can enjoy some exclusive content while watching the film. It's a fun interactive feature that reveals behind-the-scenes footage, scripts, storyboards, photos and much more. If a viewer chooses to watch a behind-the-scenes clip, it will pause the Blu-ray until the clip has completed. Pretty cool feature.
Now let's take a look at the 'Special Features' disc.
- Second Screen (Disc 1 HD) - Not only does this feature include all of the features listed above; viewers have access to a variety of interactive treats. These extras utilize your devices camera to create videos with the Camo Tumbler speeding by, placing you on a Dark Knight Rises movie poster, and even lets you put on the masks of Batman, Bane, and Catwoman. This feature doesn't just take your picture with the mask one; it'll actually trace the movement of your face in real time! This is a feature you have to check out.
- The Batmobile (58:17 HD) - This is a fantastic feature that takes a look at every Batmobile made for the films and the original television show. Five cars in all, their histories are told by the designers and the actors who drove them. Each one is uniquely different, but they are all cool. My personal favorite is the Tim Burton version that actor Michael Keaton drove.
- The Prologue: High-Altitude Hijacking (7:52 HD) - This is the behind-the-scenes clip of how the introduction of Bane and the high-altitude hijacking was done for the film. It's the same clip that's shown in the 'Second Screen - Dark Knight Rises FX' app. Nevertheless, it's always nice to watch on your HDTV. It's worth the watch, because viewers will learn how much of the hijack was for real!
- Return to the Batcave (3:37 HD) - This short clip takes a look at the set of the Batcave from the film. The entire cave was built with a running waterfall and 10ft+ deep water tank. This was a massive set for the film, but it was worth it for the visuals.
- Beneath Gotham (2:34 HD) - This brief clip discusses the set design for Bane's underground lair. The influence was to look similar to the Batcave, so he would seem like a worthy adversary. With all the running water and enormous scale of the set, I believe they accomplished this goal.
- The Bat (11:08 HD) - This extra covers the creation of the Bat, the complications of the design and use of the full-size model in the film. Although some of the scenes consisted of a digital version of the vehicle; there were several shots of it floating around by cables to create a more realistic effect.
- Batman vs. Bane (6:07 HD) - This extra covers the idea behind the fight scenes between Batman and Bane. The chorographers wanted to create something new with Bane's style. They utilize his massive size as an attribute to his strength against the Batman.
- Armory Accepted (3:19 HD) - This feature displays some serious CGI work, and miniature-scaled models of the scene where Bane blows the ceiling of his lair to reveal the Applied Sciences Division of Wayne Enterprises. Viewers will likely never know the difference.
- Gameday Destruction (6:44 HD) - This is another display of what can be achieved in CGI today. It's one of those iconic scenes from the film at the football stadium. Not only did they use some real explosives; they also raised the field so players could fall into the large holes to create a more realistic feel. Former pro football players were also casted for this scene as well.
- Demolishing a City Street (4:15 HD) - Director Christopher Nolan understands the need for CGI in a film such as this, but he believed that if it could be done with the real thing...that's how it needed to be done. The destruction of a city street was loaded with explosives, and created a very real and quite dangerous-looking scene for the film.
- The Pit (3:04 HD) - Like the Batcave and Bane's Lair; the Pit was built to scale. The giant tube was over 100ft tall, and the prison on the bottom was complete with cells, symmetrical staircases and pools of water.
- The Chant (5:19 HD) - This clip takes a look at how the creepy chant from the Pit came about.
- The War on Wall Street (6:40 HD) - The scale of the extras used in this clip is astonishing. CGI has taken the place of crowds, but not in this film folks. This scene includes over 1000 people, and they are all fighting each other. Half of them were wearing police uniforms. It’s a bit surreal to watch.
- Race to the Reactor (7:52 HD) - This feature shows how they created the epic race to the reactor scene. This is a rolling battle that takes place on the move at all times. The rig that runs and moves the Bat was not only astonishing to watch, it shows viewers what it takes to make an epic scene with some seriously expensive props.
- The Journey of Bruce Wayne (8:53 HD) - This clip takes a look back at the journey of Bruce from the beginning of the trilogy. The original goal was to tell his story within three films. By the third film, Bruce is not only physically damaged, but mentally as well. What he has experienced has truly hurt him emotionally.
- Gotham's Reckoning (10:05 HD) - This extra is all about Bane. They talk about his desired look, and the attempt to make him look menacing. With this being the first time Batman comes across a superior foe, Bane had to beef up to play this role as well. They also cover Bane's awesome mask in this extra. Tom Hardy is given a lot of praise by everyone on the set for wearing the extremely tight mask for the film.
- A Girl's Gotta Eat (9:26 HD) - Catwoman has been played by a few gals over the years, and each one creates the character in their own way. As this is in relation to the various Batmans we have come to know and love, the different versions of Catwoman seems to be a difficult role to fill. Viewers will learn what Anne Hathaway's inspiration was for her rendition of the sassy feline burglar.
- Shadows & Light in Large Format (5:37 HD) - This clip talks about the large sets, the lighting, and the colors used throughout this film. The use of IMAX cameras made the scenes and set pieces huge, and this required a lot of lighting and scalable locations. All of the major action sequences in the film were shot with IMAX cameras.
- The End of a Legend (9:04 HD) - The cast, crew and actors get a chance to reflect on the trilogy. They were all thankful for being part of this epic story, and give everyone involved a great amount of praise.
- Trailers (HD)
Now let’s take a look at the technical side of this Blu-ray.
There are certain films that are expected to look exceptional when released on Blu-ray, and The Dark Knight Rises is one of them. Not only does this film look incredible throughout, the use of various aspect ratios is practically seamless and unbeknownst to the viewer. The reason for the variation was the use of different cameras. With a third of the film shot with 70mm IMAX cameras, which has an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, a large portion of the film fills the entire HDTV screen. The rest of the film is presented at 2.40:1, but the transitions are practically invisible.
As to be expected from the two previous films, The Dark Knight Rises has several dark scenes. This can sometimes pose a problem with contrast levels and clarity, but Nolan was on top of his game with this one. The blacks are very deep, yet they display all that was supposed to be seen. The bird's-eye views of the city and landscape shots look brilliant in this transfer. Even though this is a dark film, there are several shots that include a lot of vivid reds and yellows as well. An example of this is when Bane releases the hostages on Wall Street. Their bright outfits really shine against the dull gray colors of the building and streets around them. This is one great looking transfer overall.
The audio is second to none. With its fascinating musical score, spectacular sound effects and flawless dialog; the audio portion of this Blu-ray is top notch. There were questions regarding Bane's voice before the film was released, but whatever they changed was perfect. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track rips through your surround sound system with full intention of immersing the viewer throughout the film. So much attention was put into the sound effects as well. An example of this can be heard during the first fight between Bane and Batman. The background track drops off to reveal only the sounds of their fighting. The chorographers actually used the sounds of their hits to make the beats of a track! If you are looking to show off what a sound system can do - this may be one of the films you display.
Overall, The Dark Knight Rises is a triumph of a finale. The film could not have been as successful without the previous two, but it does a fantastic job at completing this new era in the Batman saga. Nolan did a great job at tying the films together, creating harmony and closure to the series. The journey of Bruce Wayne will never be forgotten and will certainly be in the sights of the next guy or gal who tries to take on the character.
This Blu-ray consists of a wealth of special features and interactive media that will keep fans entertained for hours on end. The smartphone and tablet apps add an even greater experience. If you are a fan of the film, The Dark Knight Rises is a must have for any collection. Buy it today!