So, that two-disc edition of The Dark Knight has to be the definitive edition, chock-full of extras, right? Well, let's just say, sort of. There are plenty of extras here -- and plenty of them are truly terrific. But you will feel like there's some stuff missing, too. It's surely being saved for the big, fat ultimate collector's edition that will come out soon enough (maybe they're saving something for a set of all of the Nolan Batman movies someday). But for now, this two-disc edition is what we get, and there's plenty here to sink your teeth into.
Disc 1: The first disc contains the entire movie with "Focus Points," which you can choose to watch in their entirety or you can watch them as sidebars to the movie by clicking enter when an icon appears. At that point, you're taken away from the movie to a featurette about the making of that scene. It starts with the film's prologue, the bank heist (less than one minute in), which is explained mostly from the perspective of how it was filmed in Imax -- and how filming for Imax made everything about the movie better.
This setup, like the Picture in Picture that made HD-DVD so great, is the best way for viewers to receive this featurette information. If you watch it with the movie, you click the button when you see the icon, which jumps to the featurette, then right back into the movie, right to the scene that was just discussed in-depth, which is a much more effective way to break down a film sequence than watching the featurettes independent of the movie.
Disc 1 includes the movie in its entirety, plus about an hour of these individual featurettes, broken up into 18 segments (including the new Batman suit, the sound of the joker, Batman jumping off the building in Hong Kong (another Imax scene), blowing up a car, several bits about the armored car chase, Bat-car design, helicopter scene, Lamborghini crash, blowing up the hospital, flipping the car on the bridge, SWAT guys falling out of the building one after another, and more).
Disc 2: Considering how packed with featurettes Disc 1 is, it's interesting that Disc 2 is the one labeled "Special Features" -- especially since the features here are weak (and a little repetitive) when compared to the first disc.
The first extra is a long (about 45 minutes) featurette called "Batman Tech." It's about, surprisingly enough, Batman's technology and gadgets. It has some interesting bits (especially because it goes to the source material, the comic books, to explain why they chose to do things the way they did), even if some (most?) of it overlaps with Disc 1's "Focus Points." It also has very annoying narration, making it feel more like it was made to promote the movie instead of having been made for the disc, which it probably was. There's also a little too much build-up/introduction (who is Batman, etc.) before it gets into the good stuff. It is kind of cool to hear about specific gadgets, how they operate, that they actually could work and exist. But if you want to hear about the costume or the car, you're better off sticking to the "Focus Points," which is more in-depth and doesn't have the annoying voiceover guy. He could be saying the most informative stuff on Earth, but you'll still have a hard time caring through the rage you'll feel that this guy's telling you as if he's making a sales pitch.
The next featurette, "Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight," is another lengthy documentary (45 minutes) with another annoying, sales-pitchy voiceover guy (although it's a different voice, oddly enough), but this one is much more interesting. First, it doesn't repurpose nearly as much from the first disc and, second, it's cool to hear actual psychologists analyze Batman as if he were a real person with actual psychological issues. They bring C.G. Jung and every culture's look at evil/the dark side into it. It goes into his sadness -- and fear of love -- because of having lost his parents. On the one hand... this is a comic book movie, right? Which makes it feel a little silly to put this type of real psychoanalysis on it. [Blasphemy! - Zach] But then again, this is a superhero/supervillain story that could almost happen. And when it gets into the villains, it's especially riveting, because conversation about the Joker and how dark he is can't help but make people think about Heath Ledger's journey into the darkness of this character. It also really exemplifies the reality of this doc (which appears to have been made during the making of the movie), because we know just how real the darkness was for the actor inside that Joker character.
"Gotham Tonight" is a fake newscast with anchor Mike Engel (Anthony Michael Hall). It would be a fun little extra if it were ten minutes or so (it uses footage that wasn't used in the movie, plus some movie footage and stills, pieced together with the newscasts to look like on-the-scenes news footage), but instead it offers six "episodes" or newscasts, and drags to a full length of close to 45 minutes (a length only Anthony Michael Hall could love). The good news is that you can watch just one episode and that's probably the best idea. "Escalation" is fun if you're looking for something that's all new footage -- about a kid who used Ecstasy and died -- although it doesn't feel like it ties into the movie all that well. "Top Cop" (a profile of Gary Oldman's Jim Gordon by Mike Engel's co-worker, "Lydia Filangeri") and "Gotham's White Knight" (about Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent) are the best ones that tie well into the film. Dent is even interviewed by Engel in "Gotham's White Knight," as a scroll about cops with mob ties runs across the bottom of the screen.
There are several art and photo galleries: "Joker Cards" (various creepy Joker playing cards), "Concept Art" (mask possibilities for the Joker's henchmen; Batman suit drawings and prototypes, gadget and tech concept drawings), "Poster Art" (all of the various posters, which was a highlight because I hadn't seen all of them -- there are about 15), and "Production Stills" from the movie.
Finally, there are trailers and TV spots. This is probably the most complete collection of trailers on a DVD, with three trailers and six TV spots included.
Disc 3: Disc 3 includes the digital copy for use on PCs or PSPs. This is now becoming almost standard with DVD and Blu-ray releases, so it's starting to feel wrong to call it an extra.
Why so serious? Buy it now!