With so much media hype surrounding it for the last year, the newest incarnation of Batman, The Dark Knight has finally hit theaters. The much anticipated sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins brings back Christian Bale as billionaire Bruce Wayne and alter ego Batman, who this time must face the psychopathic Joker, played to perfection by the late Heath Ledger. Rounding out the primary cast is Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent, Maggie Gyllennhaal taking over for Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, and Gary Oldman returning as Lt. James Gordon.
This sequel is much darker and grittier than the first, and by far the most realistic comic-book-turned-movie I have yet seen. Director Christopher Nolan brings a dark reality to the world of Gotham and his use of live shots rather than relying on excessive CGI makes for a cinematic epic from the first panoramic shots of Gotham to the jolting end of the two and a half hour ride.
Much of the hype surrounding the film is due to the premature death of Heath Ledger. When casting was announced for this sequel, I questioned the decision of placing Ledger in the role of The Joker. Even after preliminary reviews and the inevitable talk of Oscar buzz surrounding it, speculation did turn to his only being awarded this high level of criticism due to his tragic demise. After watching his performance, all I can say is that the franchise has to now put the Joker to rest because it would be a herculean task for any other actor to follow in Ledger’s footsteps. The late actor was breathtaking in his terrifyingly psychotic performance, completely embodying the character and adding new depths that the previous incarnations never remotely came close to.
If you are one of the few people who have yet to see The Dark Knight, run, don’t walk, to your nearest theater. It is by far the best film released this year.
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