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The Dark Knight (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Christopher Nolan released his tenth directed feature film in 2017, the escape/evacuation World War II thriller chronicling the events of Dunkirk. Being well regarded as one of the best directors of the the twenty first century; one of the rare breed who manages to consistently please the general audience and critical one alike. Breaking out with Memento and finding major success in reinventing Batman on the big screen, Nolan has been an influential voice in cinema and made many modern classics. Commemorating ten films, Warner Bros has put together a box set containing the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut of the segment of his work from Batman Begins to Dunkirk. Releasing on December 19th, you have the option for a full box set, individual releases or a trilogy set with just the Dark Knight films. We have already reviewed the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays of Dunkirk and Interstellar and will continue with the Batman trilogy and Inception (We were not sent The Prestige for review). In this review, we’ll be covering Nolan’s masterpiece comic book superhero opus, The Dark Knight.

Film 

With the help of allies Lt. Jim Gordon and DA Harvey Dent, Batman has been able to keep a tight lid on crime in Gotham City. But when a vile young criminal calling himself the Joker suddenly throws the town into chaos, the caped Crusader begins to tread a fine line between heroism and vigilantism.

Damnit. While the prospect of reviewing The Dark Knight is an awesome one, its also a difficult one. Movies we love, that were a shared phenomenon, that were analyzed and written up and down to pieces are hard to right. Finding something unique or different angle to approach is hard and drooling over it is pretty boring and useless to people. But, here goes anyway. Brandon repeats things you already know or probably have read about Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

One major takeaway from The Dark Knight, is that its most impressive that the whole damn thing actually works. Nolan and his brother Johnathan’s script is a very heavily plotted feature with a lot of players, a lot of positioning, a mystery, a theme and an agenda. That it all comes together, checks out and fully functions in every single aspect is quite a triumph that shouldn’t go ignored. There is a lot going on in The Dark Knight’s plot. That it also has time for character moments and development is stunning as well. Oh, and there are jokes here, too. Just want to remind people.

In terms of the perfect Batman movie or the closest we will probably ever get to it, this is it. Nolan borrows the “feel” and workings of the Michael Mann film Heat and makes it tick in Gotham City. Not only that, but he also starts infusing his love of James Bond that would start here and carry through to his next 2 films. Its primarily noticeable in a perfectly executed opening sequence that plays like the catchiest pop song, a sequence that would typically be followed by opening credits (The film’s first hour almost has Batman in a 007 kind of role, too). As Scott Mendelson told me the day after he saw it at a critic screening in 2008 to tell me about how good it was, “It features Batman, Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent on the rooftop by the Bat-Signal discussing how they are going to catch The Joker. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Nolan ups his game here with action sequence, crafting some very memorable one that you’ll always remember. One of his frequent criticisms of the well received Batman Begins, was the the action was a bit too enclosed and wasn’t very effective. There is still some of that here, but done better, but for the most part he’s show some great improvement. Its especially impressive with the implementation of using IMAX footage where he gets some outstanding and breathtaking coverage at times. While its the intention of using IMAX in the first place duh, but really it makes the film larger than life and only adds to how iconic it is and sets it apart from its contemporary superhero films.

I could probably go on and on and on about this movie, but I’ve likely already said things you know or have heard many times and would just continue to say more of the same. What you want to know is how the damn thing looks on 4K Ultra-HD. So, lets get to that. SPOILER ALERT: Unlike Batman Begins 4K UHD, You’re going to be pretty satisfied with this one.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1, 1.78:1 (IMAX sequences)

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: WOW! The Dark Knight sees quite the upgrade in its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut. Unlike Batman Begins, this second adventure makes a massive jump in quality with a pristine, sharp and crisp picture. The image is rife with detail and textures that have a full on, looking through a window look. This is especially true for the films IMAX sequences, that are surely to immerse you and also wow as much as they can in your home theater. Warner has got themselves quite a big win here, but one has to question how Batman Begins couldn’t have even looked half as good as this.

Depth:  

Black Levels: Blacks are deep, natural and expertly saturate. The cover of night or the darkest room has never looked so gorgeous. Details still run rampant in different shades and discernible details of clothing patterns/textures as well as hair follicles or surface blemishes. Dark rooms and such still find you able to pick things out and see in the dark. No crushing witnessed on this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Coloring is quite eye opening here. From the offset, with the coloring on the clown masks, you’ll see this release is not messing around. Some other notables. Bruce has a red motorcycle at one point that really pops. Yellows on schoolbuses look pretty bold. Blues are another strong suit. HDR is applied to fires, car and building lights and some other monitor/screen related things. Its not overdone and fits the picture. In some of the sweeping city shots in IMAX you’ll find some outstanding use of it. Maybe the best is in the aftermath of the Joker’s pick a friend game as we see some roaring fires at dawn.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are quite full looking, natural and maintain the same appearance from the start of the film to the finish. Facial details are accurate to the touch with freckles, stubble, moles, dried blood, peeled off make-up, lip texture and more. Harvey Dent’s Two-Face half has effects that hold up quite lovely and are even a bit more detailed and marvelous on this 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray presentation.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Chinese, Spanish (Latin American), Portuguese, Thai

Dynamics: The Dark Knight comes with the original 5.1 theatrical mix. Sorry, no Atmos, but this is still a pretty rock solid affair. I can’t confirm for certain, but I think they have merely just converted the previous TrueHD track over to DTS-HD MA. The effects are intricately layered and feature plenty of depth. The score can take over, as is intended by the design. But, for the most part the balance is quite good and you’ll want to give the volume knob a bit of a couple ticks up from your typical setting as its set a bit lower.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: This track is very bass heavy, so your subwoofer is keeping itself busy through the whole thing. Hans Zimmer’s score and soundscapes will throttle your room as well as semi engines, explosions, shotguns, punches connection, cars crashing and more.

Surround Sound Presentation: One of the nit picks here is that the film is very front channel heavy when it comes to the surround. The sound travels quite well, with great precision from left to right. From the rear, there is a lot of good ambiance and distinct participation only when its very necessary.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp and clear. They are a hair lower in the mix than everything else, but its works out just fine without anything problematic occurring.

Extras 

The Dark Knight is a 3-Disc set that comes with the 2-Disc Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy. All bonus material is featured on the Blu-ray discs.

Blu-ray Disc 1

Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene (HD, 1:04:10)

Blu-ray Disc 2

Behind the Story

  • Batman Tech (HD, 45:59)
  • Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight (HD, 46:02)

Extras 

  • Gotham Tonight (HD, 46:41)
  • The Galleries

Trailers and More (HD, 8:48)

Summary 

The Dark Knight is one of the perfect films of the 21st century and a triumph for the comic book superhero genre. It was a box office phenomenon in the summer of 2008, and its not hard to see why. With great relief, I can tell you this 4K Ultra-HD edition is pretty awesome to look at and it will make you fall in love with the film all over again. I was worried after seeing the transfer of Batman Begins. This one looks fantastic, especially the breathtaking IMAX footage. This needs no recommendation, as it was a must own before it was even a reality on the 4K Ultra-HD format.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “The Dark Knight (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Happy to see the 5 star film review here!!! Love this movie and looking forward to this 4K visit!
    Audio was actually remixed from 16 bit to 24 bit for Batman 4K releases.
    Sucks dialogue is low. Just noticed that in Inception 4K too

  2. Gregg

    One of my favorite all-time films. Like Brian, I’m glad to see the 5-Star review as well. It deserved the tender, loving technical care it got!