out of Five
Running time: 152
Hugely entertaining, superbly acted and stunningly designed blockbuster that mixes adult themes with spectacular action and actually leaves you wanting more, despite its lengthy running time.
What's it all about?
Picking up shortly after Batman Begins, The Dark Knight opens with costumed criminal The Joker (Heath Ledger) executing a daring heist that nets him a stash of mob money. Naturally, this angers Gotham's criminal fraternity (including Eric Roberts as Sal Maroni), but Batman's recent crime-busting antics have forced them into a desperate position, so they accept The Joker's offer to kill the Caped Crusader, in exchange for half of everything they have.
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne / Batman (Christian Bale) and Lieutenant Gordon (Gary Oldman) both decide to place their trust in Gotham City's new White Knight, crusading D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who also happens to be dating assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, replacing Katie Holmes), the woman Bruce loves. However, Dent's high-profile successes soon make him a target, putting him squarely in The Joker's sights.
First things first: Bale is good, but Heath Ledger is terrific as The Joker, completely justifying the hype around his performance – don't be surprised if he does indeed end up winning a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. There's also superb work from Aaron Eckhart (whose performance is at the heart of the film) and Gary Oldman, who brings warmth and humanity to Gordon, while Gyllenhaal, Freeman and Caine provide colourful support in key roles.
The film looks amazing, thanks to stunning cinematography from Wally Pfister, and it’s definitely worth catching in IMAX for its jaw-dropping city-scapes. In addition, the script is much darker than your average blockbuster, giving you plenty to chew over in the pub afterwards.
To be fair, director Christopher Nolan still hasn't quite mastered action sequences – the fight scenes are still sometimes unsatisfactory and a central set-piece in a tunnel is practically incoherent, as you can never tell where the Batmobile is in relation to everyone else. That said, he more than makes up for it with several thrilling confrontation scenes and some superb editing throughout.
The Dark Knight may not be perfect, but this is still unmissable entertainment and it's worth seeing for Ledger's performance alone. Highly recommended.