After the successful reboot of the franchise with Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan and the cast are back for round two in what is easily the greatest set of batman films ever created. The returning stars are Christian Bale as the caped crusader, Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and of course Gary Oldman as Lieutenant Gordon. Those four stars alone could act through a Uwe Boll movie and pull out Oscar noms but the director overcame his previous casting genius by giving us three incredible newcomers. Aaron Eckhart as the enthusiastic newly appointed D.A. Harvey Dent, Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Katie Holmes as Bruce Wayne’s oldest friend Rachel Dawes, and of course the most hyped, Heath Ledger as Batman’s nemesis The Joker. The movie was set with the incredible director and stars in place and I went in knowing that I was in for an incredible ride.
It should go without saying that the acting in this film is phenomenal on all sides. Heath Ledger’s performance is of course the most focused of the year so far and one that has been drawing the most severe Oscar hype in years and I whole heartedly agree. Ledger gave one of the most chilling performances that I’ve ever seen and still managed to make me laugh no matter how horrific his actions were. He captured the character of The Joker so perfectly that to me he wasn’t even Heath Ledger anymore, he WAS the Joker. I fear however that people will focus so much on Ledger’s great performance that they might forget everyone else who gave equally great ones. Caine and Freeman are top notch as always but the two that really shined were Eckhart and Oldman. Eckhart because he portrayed Harvey Dent with such internal ferocity that simply explodes as we near the end of the movie, and Oldman because he delivers each and every line with a perfect balance of emotion and purity that shows that he is the perfect man for the job. They both do a great job that is unfortunately shadowed by Ledger’s superior performance. Bale also gives a good performance, but as Bruce Wayne only, I still find his growling Batman voice too distracting and irritating to find much purpose to it. However, his performance as Bruce Wayne shows that he does indeed have a lot of talent and I doubt he could be replaced with anyone else. However, the person who could have been replaced in the last film was, and Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a great performance as Rachel Dawes as well when compared to Katie Holmes who, although not a bad actress, I’m not as fond of.
The story is also as tight as a devil’s knot and flows along seamlessly throughout the entire two and a half hour runtime. It starts off with a bank robbery of ultimate deceptions that shows the Joker’s horrible ways in which all robbers but himself are killed leaving him alone with all of the stolen cash. This leads to Lieutenant Gordon and Batman revealing that they had hidden marked bills in the banks and that they can all be traced, so they plan to take down the entire mob with this and save the Joker for later. At the same time the new D.A. of Gotham Harvey Dent is trying to send the head of the Falconi family
Maroni (Falconi was the main mobster in the last film) to jail and trying to meet face to face with Batman through Gordon. At the same time he is with the love of his life, Rachel Dawes. Meanwhile the mob realizes that their money is being tracked and Lau, who is an accountant from
Hong Kong, tells them that he has hidden the money away from the cops and is in hiding, but Joker appears and says that it is not safe and that Batman will find Lau and take them all down. Knowing that he proposes that they kill the Batman and that’s just the groundwork for the movie, it all travels up from there.
Christopher Nolan takes us on a rollercoaster of a movie that twists and turns at every opportunity. Each and every character is developed well, though none more so than Harvey Dent, and the story comes around almost full circle. Because of the untimely and unfortunate death of Heath Ledger, certain aspects of the movie were left uncompleted. Apart from that though nearly every question is answered and every story is completed while leaving enough excitement for the next installment. If I had to make one more gripe about the movie I would say that the movie is filled with so much excitement, explosions, and thrills that by the last half hour the audience is completely exhausted, which is a shame. The movie goes into it’s final half hour with great intensity and doesn’t let the audiences go until the beginning of the credits and it manages to keep tensions high throughout. So overall don’t expect to be a little tired and try to see this movie as a nice relaxing time because it is anything but that, it is the ultimate superhero movie, and one of the best live action movies I’ve seen in years. It is a whole lot of fun, but it’s dark tones make it more suitable for an older audiences. While I don’t think children would be necessarily scared of the film, I don’t believe that they’ll stay completely interested as they would in say Spider Man. Still this film was not made for kids so there is nothing wrong with that and I give it the second perfect score I have given this year (Title of the first perfect score goes to Wall E) and I truly cannot think of anyone over 12 that I wouldn’t recommend this movie too, it is a masterpiece. 5/5