Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by:Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Chin Han, Eric Roberts
Released: July 16, 2008
Grade: A-

Without a doubt, The Dark Knight is the most anticipated movie of 2008.  The Batman franchise was reinvigorated with Batman Begins (released in 2005) and everyone has been waiting anxiously to see what happens next.  Over the past few weeks, a lot of people have been asking whether I’d seen the film and if it was any good.

I can finally say that… yes, I’ve seen the film.  I can also say that… yes, it’s good.  One must be careful though not to get too caught up in the hype.  If you go into the cinema expecting to see a masterpiece, you will be disappointed.  It’s not perfect and there are a few weak spots.  Still, of all the major blockbusters that we’ve been treated to in recent months, this one gets my vote as the best.

With the same director at the helm, The Dark Knight has been made in a similar vein to Batman Begins.  The overall tone of the film is gloomy and sinister.  This isn’t a light-hearted superhero flick (ala Ironman or Indiana Jones).  Gotham City is a depressing place.  It’s hard to distinguish the heroes from the villains.

There are two new characters of note in this sequel.  Harvey Dent (Eckhart) is Gotham’s new District Attorney.  The enthusiastic Dent is determined to clean up the streets and put the powerful mobsters behind bars.  Bruce Wayne (Bale) aka Batman is impressed with Dent’s work and his happy to see someone else standing up against injustice.

Then, there is The Joker (Ledger).  With a creepy voice and a face covered in make up, The Joker is a psychopathic madman.  He doesn’t appear to be after money and power.  He just loves the fun of being a villain.  The Joker’s actions may appear crazy but this guy has brains.  He wants to strip Batman of his “hero status” and will do so by turning the public against him.

In the first movie, director Christopher Nolan had to spend a great deal of time developing the Batman character.  That isn’t necessary here and it gives Nolan more time to expand on the supporting players.  Aaron Eckhart, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman and Maggie Gyllenhall are all great.  I only wish that Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman could have had more screen time.

This is a solid two and a half hours worth of drama.  Every character, at some point, makes an important decision that will affect the life of someone else.  Do they act in the best interests of themselves or in the best interests of others?  Are there times when a lie is better than the truth?  Watching these moral dilemmas unfold was the highlight of the film for me.

If I have a criticism, it’s that The Joker’s plans seemed a little too elaborate.  I don’t want to give anything away but I was left wondering how he was able to set up some of his explosions.  He’d look even more obvious given his appearance.  Was the last film this unrealistic?  I shouldn’t be too judgemental because this is a fantasy flick and Batman himself isn’t the most believable character.

Everyone is going to see this film (well, practically everyone) and the majority are going to be happy with what they see.