DVD review: Holy excess marketing, Batman

If you saw "The Dark Knight Rises" in the theater, you already know whether (like me) you are a fan of the third installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Even if you didn't see it, you probably have an inkling of whether you'll want to buy it on disc. To all of you, one can only sneeringly say, “Good luck and happy shopping!”

You'll need the luck, because Warner has released so many editions with so many different options that, unless you're close personal friends with Nate Silver, it may actually require a research grant to figure out which you want.

Back in the days when a pack of cigarettes was 27 cents and manufacturers were trying all sorts of strategies to attract consumers, there was a joke: Someone asks the clerk for a particular brand, which causes a lengthy interrogation — single pack or carton? Filtered or not filtered? Menthol or regular? Soft package or crush-proof? ... and so on. By the time it's over, the customer has broken the habit.

With “The Dark Knight Rises,” you can buy a stand-alone version or (for almost the same price) the entire trilogy; Blu-ray or DVD or dual format “combo packs”; single disc or 2-disc or 3-disc packages; standard packaging or metal cover or “digi-book”; flat cover or lenticular (different images from different angles); the Best Buy version with exclusive extra content; the Target version with different exclusive content.

If you're a neurotic completist, you'll have to buy the Target and the Best Buy exclusives and the Limited Edition if you want an official Bat-cowl. Oh, and maybe you'll need a Canadian release as well, for additional exclusive stuff, or maybe the Walmart “exclusive” version. Unfortunately Walmart's website fails to describe what's included. The only information it gives is a cast listing, which curiously is exactly the same cast as the 2008 miniseries “John Adams”: Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, David Morse, etc. If the Walmart exclusive truly gives us that cast instead of Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway and the others, well ... I'd definitely get in line for it.

All else being equal, multiple options are a good thing, particularly when they offer a range of prices from (on sale) $13 to whatever the cowl thing costs. But not when it takes an as-yet-nonexistent spreadsheet to figure out which is right for you. And not when the various marketing deals with big vendors make it even harder to choose.

"The Dark Knight Rises" (Warner Home Entertainment, Blu-ray, two discs plus DVD, $35.99; DVD, $28.98; Target's online-only single Blu-ray and single DVD combo pack, $24.99; Best Buy's edition, 2 Blu-ray discs, single DVD, plus exclusive bonus content, $39.98; Blu-ray, two discs plus DVD plus actual physical Bat-cowl plus ... aw, forget about it ...)

ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on “FilmWeek” on KPCC-FM (89.3).

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