So The Dark Knight Rises. As I may have mentioned in my Wayhomer on the topic (I can’t recall exactly, the whole thing’s rather hazy), I don’t envy the task set before Team Nolan on this one. After basically punching the superhero genre in the throat while at the same time arguably giving us the superhero movie equivalent of Frank Miller‘s Dark Knight Returns, how in the hell do you follow that up?
Instead of taking the obvious (and stupid) choice of trying to outdo themselves and simply follow the “That But More Of It” formula, they didn’t expand just upwards–they went out in all directions. I didn’t really think of it at the time, but Christopher Nolan describes the various genres that they infiltrated with this film (wonder what Irwin Allen would have made of the football scene)–and thus the scope completely blew up.
[ad#longpost]What results is something that holds together quite possibly better than it has any right to. I say that to bestow all respect on Team Nolan–because try to imagine any other team trying to pull this off and your eyebrows will fall out. You’ve got a well-written third chapter that puts a period at the end of this particular Batman trilogy, you’ve got the actors necessary to pull the thing off (including both a hyper-inflated and acting-his-ass-off-with-just-eyes-and-eyebrows Tom Hardy and a Selina Kyle in Anne Hathaway that was wisely kept under wraps so she could take us by surprise), and you’ve got technical prowess out the wazoo.
The thing that the Rises Blu-Ray pack does really, really well is establishing just how batshit crazy (no pun intended, no Adam West-era Batman reference intended) Team Nolan are. I was stunned to learn that, for the last film, in order to pull off the effect of flipping a semi in the middle of Chicago–they flipped a semi in the middle of Chicago. That sort of real world WTFery is nothing compared to some of that madness they did for this film. Like the hijack sequence at the beginning. Or the flying Bat vehicle. Or the stadium destruction. Featurettes for these and other things that were practically built–like the prison set which was so tall it had to basically be sliced in half and stacked next to each other–boggle the mind. Also not to be missed is the music featurette centered around “The Chant” that featured so much in both film and marketing.
You also get character featurettes for Bruce Wayne, Selina and Bane–which are all short but fairly dense considering their brief running time. There’s an IMAX featurette where they talk about the advances they’ve made since the last film (no steadicam IMAXes falling on rooftops this time, in other words). And there’s something that I think is worth the price of admission: a nearly hour-long look at the Batmobile. Every Batmobile. From the comics through the 60s era TV show through all the movies and ending up with the Tumbler. They talk to pretty much everybody (including a comedian who bought one at auction), get a hilarious West story and show you design work that a crazy creature-based artist did that inspired the Schumacher production team. This bit is worth the price of admission.
And yes, there’s the “Bye Batman” featurette (aka “The End of a Legend”) in which everybody gets chatted with and it feels like a bit of a fluff piece except…yes, they’ve all worked their asses off and should be heeded. Plus Tom Hardy’s story about seeing Bale as Batman is brilliant. Afterwards you will want to buy him much beer.
Is it a perfect set? Well, no. There’s very little in the way of supporting cast showing up to chat (Freeman appears once briefly, I think, and Caine maybe twice, for example). There’s no commentary track. While you do get in essence a feature-length array of production featurettes once you tally them all up…I just left them happy, but wanting more. And the biggest disappointment was the second screen–which basically is just a front-end to access the featurettes which, if you tackled the Special Features disc first, you’ve already seen. Yes, there’s some bonus content that I didn’t catch during any of the featurettes–but it appears to be mostly prop letters and such. I think The Avengers has spoiled me a bit.
Should you own it? Hell yes. Are you going to groan a bit when the Mondo Version comes out at some point in the future? More than likely. Will you regret having bought this and devoured it? Not a bit.