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05 September, 2009



Year of Release—Film: 2008

Year of Release—DVD: 2009

DVD Label: Warner Home Video

As anyone who read my 2008 in Review [7 February 2009] column might recall, the year in genre film was dominated by one movie—Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT. From the powerful script, by Nolan and his brother Jonathon, to some of the best effects work I’ve ever seen, to Heath Ledger’s chilling performance as the Joker, this movie scored on every level; so well, in fact, that I named it 2008’s Movie of the Year.

Most of the cast of BATMAN BEGINS returns for this sequel. The notable exception is Katie Holmes, who originated the role of Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend and love interest. Maggie Gyllenhall takes over the role here, and does an excellent job with it. Christian Bale, of course, returns as the Darknight Detective of DC Comics fame. Bale may not be my favorite actor to have essayed the role of Batman, but there is no doubt his is by far the darkest, most powerful portrayal. What he approached with his performance in BATMAN BEGINS he solidly nails here.

Michael Caine returns as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s aide (butler just doesn’t seem to do justice to his importance…), and delivers what might be his best performance, bar none. Morgan Freeman is solid as Lucius Fox, Wayne’s right hand man at Wayne Enterprises, and Gary Oldham does a superb job bringing Police Capt. James Gordon to life.

New to the cast for this sequel are Thomas Jane, as District Attorney Harvey Dent, and the late Heath Ledger as Batman’s archenemy, the Joker. Jane is a bit overbearing at times as the righteously crusading D. A., though overall he does a good job. And, while there’s little more that can be said for Ledger’s performance as Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, it is something that the viewer must experience to appreciate.

This DVD is the stripped-down version, without any bonus features. While usually that works against any release I choose to review, the object here is the movie itself, and a film of this quality is quite capable of standing on it’s own merits. Though I still consider Tim Burton’s BATMAN the best filmed version of the Caped Crusader, this is by far the most powerful. See it—own it. Take the Unimonster’s word on it.

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