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Review: The Dark Knight Rises above everyday Blu-ray experiences

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The Dark Knight Rises is available this week in Blu-ray combo pack, DVD and download.

The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray combo pack (Warner Bros.)

It’s hard to say anything Nerdvana’s resident movie critic, Bob Leeper, hasn’t already, so I’ll steer clear from the narrative content for the most part and mainly address the home video presentation. I will say that I feel The Dark Knight Rises is a satisfying conclusion to Christopher’s Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy — since we have to live with the fact that it is concluded. Yes, it’s preachy at times and way over the top, straining the limits of credibility that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight worked so hard to establish. But it’s also a fun ride that begs to be seen more than once.

That’s where the Blu-ray special features come to the rescue.

For many years I remember “DVD extras” were scaled back dramatically, in part because cast and crew wanted more money for the time and effort that went into making them memorable. We were lucky if we got some production diaries, audio commentary and a few lame Flash games. But with the rise of mobile devices as “second screens” that can interact with movies and make you more than just a spectator, and the explosion of application development for smartphones and tablets as well as online social networking, studios have been returning to the concept with a vengeance.

The second-screen experience is still pretty new for many people — including myself — but if ever there was a movie made for exploring this way, it’s an action-packed showoff between order and chaos like The Dark Knight Rises. This can mean just watching a movie while surfing the net on your iPad, as I often do and often find myself looking up details about cast and crew on IMDb and Wikipedia until I’ve reached some obscure point that makes me wonder how I got there. Or it can be so much more with some thoughtful design and planning.

The Dark Knight Rises is an example of how this experience can be integrated and directed, almost as if the filmmakers are guiding your hand as you tap and swipe. A free app for iOS devices syncs with many Blu-ray players to unlock bonus content, including filming locations, Gotham City maps, movie trivia, photo galleries and behind-the-scenes featurettes — no need to unlock special websites. You can also use the app to control Blu-ray playback. The special features add a personal touch that lets you insert yourself into Batman’s camouflage Tumbler or the movie’s iconic “RISE” poster via photo applications, or even become Gotham’s most wanted by adding a Batman, Catwoman or Bane mask to your photos. You can even have the Tumbler vehicle drive through your own personal videos.

The Dark Knight Rises represents a new dimension in special features and interactivity for hardcore fans of franchise fiction.

Warner Bros. provided a Blu-ray combo pack of The Dark Knight Rises for review.

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