Lewis Wilson, Robert Lowery, Adam West, Olan Soule, Michael Keaton, Kevin Conroy, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Rino Romano, Diedrich Bader and now Christian Bale. All these men have one thing in common: They all played or voiced the hero Batman, with Bale taking the role in the latest installment: The Dark Knight.
This long expected sequel to Nolan's reboot of the film series Batman Begins tells the tale of the rise of the Joker as Batman's arch-nemesis, and the "creation" of another future enemy: Harvey Two-Face. Add to this lots of cool action sequences, a gripping musical score, a love triangle and some good, great and in one instance even legendary performances and voila: The Dark Knight is born.
The film starts off with Joker robbing a mob bank, and tricking his accomplices to killing each other. When investigating the robbery, Batman and the police under James Gordon discuss if they should bring the new district attorney Harvey Dent (who is also dating Batman/Bruce Wayne's love Rachel) into their plan. When Wayne runs into Rachel and Harvey, he gets convinced that Dent is serious about eradicating crime, and decides to host a fund-raiser for him
In the meantime, Gotham's crime bosses meet to discuss the problems of Dent and Batman, and discover that their accountant (a Chinese man named Lau) has hidden their money safely and fled the country. The discussion is interrupted by Joker, who offers to kill Batman for half the money of the mafia, which they refuse.
Batman travels to Hong-Kong and captures Lau, who he delivers to Gotham Police where they get him to testify against the mob. Shortly after the arrests of the mob, Joker announces an ultimatum: every day people will die untill Batman reveals his identity. This starts with the an assassination attempt on Harvey Dent at Wayne's party, and the murders of the police commissioner and the judge residing over the mob case.
When the crowd starts blaming Batman for the deaths, Wayne decides to reveal his identity, but Dent cuts him off by saying he is Batman, and is arrested. When Dent is being transported to prison, Joker attacks the convoy, but Batman intervenes, and (with some help from Gordon) manages to capture him.
In the aftermath, Dent and Rachel disappear, which prompts Batman to torture Joker to find out where they are taken. Joker gives them two locations, both on the other end of town, and tells Batman he has only the time to save one; Batman leaves to save Rachel and Gordon leads the police to the address that holds Dent. Batman manages to save Dent, who survives with terrible facial burns, as it appears that the Joker switched the addresses, but the police are unable to save Rachel before the bomb goes off.
When everyone returns to the police station, they discover that Joker managed to escape with Lau, by using a bomb smuggled in in one of the Mob gangsters stomachs. He burns his half of the Mob money (with Lau on top).
Meanwhile, an accountant at Wayne Enterprises by the name of Reese, figures out the identity of Batman, and tries to go public by going on tv. The broadcast is interrupted by Joker, who says that if Reese is not dead within the hour, he will blow up a hospital. In the chaos that follows, the police try to evacuate every hospital (including the one where Dent is treated for his burns), and Gordon tries to protect Reese his life, which almost fails if it was not through an intervention by Bruce Wayne, who nods at Reese.
Joker breaks in into the hospital, and discusses himself and life with Joker, and convinces him to get his own revenge for Rachel's death. Dent decides to leave everything to chance now, and starts flipping coins for every enemy he has. The Joker is spared, blows up the hospital and kidnaps a bus full of hospital patients. Dent pursues the corrupt cops and mob bosses that led to his fate, and flips his coin one by one for each.
Joker broadcasts another ultimatum: At nightfall everyone in Gotham will be at his mercy. He also warns them that the bridges and tunnels out of the city are mined. The authorities start using ferries to evacuate prisoners that might help Joker, as well as civilians. Two of these ferries, one with prisoners and one with civilians, are suddenly stopped in the middle of the river, where Joker gives them each a detonator for a bomb on the other boat. If they will not blow up the other boat before midnight, he will detonate bombs on board of both ships.
Via a new echo-location system, Batman manages to locate Joker and sees through the trap that he set for the SWAT teams, he is forced to attack Gordons man, but eventually manages to capture Joker yet again, stopping him from destroying the ferries. Joker taunts Batman to kill him, which he refuses, after which he is told what Dent has been doing since his release from the hospital.
Batman leaves Joker for Gordons men to capture, and goes on the hunt for Dent, who he finds holding Gordon and his family at gunpoint. Dent judges the innocence of Gordon's son, Batman and himself with coin cosses. He spares himself, shoots Batman through the stomach, but when he flips a coin for the boy is tackled by Batman, and in the struggle falls off the building to his death.
Knowing that Dents death will lead to the loss of all hope and morale in Gotham, Batman decides to pretend he is responsible for the murders, and flees. The film ends with images of Dent's funeral and the smashing of the Bat Signal.
While this movie absolutely is a good movie, with some great effects and thrilling action sequences, there is only one reason why one would want to see it more than once or twice; you guessed it: it is the absolutely legendary performance of Heath Ledger as The Joker. This stunning piece of performance truly was Ledger's magnum opus and even beats the earlier performance of Jack Nicholson in Batman. The rest of the acting is quite solid, with such big names as Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, but they are all easily played away by Ledger.
Bale sets a more grim and serious Batman than the kinda gay'ish Kilmer and Clooney, but just does not manage to convince as playboy Bruce Wayne. Every shot of him in his normal life, I expect him to grab a chainsaw and kill somebody. That, and the weird over-the-top rasping voice of Batman turns this performance down for me.
The visual effects in this film are downright great, with explosions here, there and everywhere; and there are some great visual highlights in this film, with masterful lit shots.
The film has been scored by big names Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, and that you can hear; from the eerie violin noises that accompany Joker, to the brass blasts that play during major scenes, this score is absolutely worthy of all praise.
Storywise, this film is quite good; even though it runs a bit long at 152 minutes, you will not be bored a lot. Some side-plots are a bit far-fetched, but in the end, everything comes together, and it sure is way better than Batman Begins, which left me a bit empty after seeing it.
In conclusion: This film is great because of Ledger's performance, and otherwise also quite good, if you haven't seen it I can absolutely say that this is a must-watch, and for the rest of you it still is a great pop-corn movie to rewatch.(read on) (show less)