Don’t have tickets yet? Line up now, and you might get in to see it by Tuesday. Iron Man was the reigning box office superhero for the past two months, but we’ll find he’s far from invincible.

Cast and Crew Information

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman
Heath Ledger is (not as) the Joker
Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent / Two-Face
Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth
Maggie Gyllenhall as Rachel Dawes
Gary Oldman as James Gordon
Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox
Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane / Scarecrow
Nestor Carbonell as the Mayor
Eric Roberts as Salvatore Maroni
Anthony Michael Hall as Mike Engel
Melinda McGraw as Barbara Gordon

Written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan wrote a script based on a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer.
Directed by Christopher Nolan.

Premise

Batman has inspired a major change in Gotham. The city is brighter, the people are hopeful, and the criminals run scared. A new player comes to town to throw a little chaos into all of this order.

High Point

They get it. That’s the bottom line. I can’t pick out one or two points as being better than any others, because each moment is dead-on from start to finish. There’s a lot of complexity and subtlety to the methods and motivations of the characters in the Batman mythos, and this cast and crew get it all. They get Batman’s motives and limitations. They get the Joker better than any other live action or animated team ever have. They understand what it would take to turn a man like Harvey Dent into Two-Face. They understand why Alfred Pennyworth stands by Batman through anything. They understand why those who get close enough to deduce Batman’s dual identity keep their mouths shut. They understand the line Jim Gordon walks. They get it all.

Low Point

We’ll never see a repeat performance of this Joker.

The Review

This loses originality points for being an adaptation, but that’s it. Batman’s relationship with the city has never gone this route in live action before, and no representation of the Joker has nailed him so well. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were excellent. The makeup effects were phenomenal, and they go well past the Joker. (They were right to keep Two-Face out of the trailers; that’s a perfect reveal.) They were utterly seamless, and that’s really difficult given what they needed to show. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story is very well crafted. The Joker is presented as a perfect foil to the Batman they’ve created. Batman inspired a change in the city, and so does the Joker, driving decisions in just about everyone in town. He personifies the chaos that Batman fights against, but is brilliant enough to outsmart the Bat on occasion. This treatment also makes it clear why neither of them kills the other. This is the relationship people are expecting to see, but most audiences will be presently surprised by the quality and time given to Harvey Dent’s story. I give it 6 out of 6.

The acting is great. Most of the cast deliver their roles with passion and power. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, who stole every scene they were in the first time around, do just as well this time, but they pale in comparison to Heath Ledger’s Joker. Ledger breathes life into the psychopath so completely and effectively that you forget you’re watching an actor. (In fact, from the reports I’ve heard, Ledger got the prescriptions for the sleeping pills that killed him because becoming the Joker was so disturbing for him.) I give it 6 out of 6.

The production is excellent. The look and feel of Gotham show the improvements that Batman has inspired, while the editing and musical score drive the emotions home. The use of a single crescendo instead of melody when the Joker is “pushing” someone to their limits is as disturbing as the Joker himself. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was incredible. (I’m rapidly running out of positive adjectives, here.) I followed the course the filmmakers laid out from start to finish. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is an amazing film, and the best one I’ve seen this year. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, The Dark Knight receives 41 out of 42.