Yesterday, my girlfriend and I went to watch The Dark Knight, and it's as brilliant as you've heard it is. Generally, these films rarely live up to the hype, but this movie does. It's edgy, dark, exciting, intelligent and thought-provoking. That's right, thought-provoking! I can't ever remember coming out of any other comic book movie and having a lengthy discussion about the moral questions raised by the movie. It is a long movie, but thinking about it, I can't think what could've been cut out without ruining the film, as every scene is important to the plot or character development.
The script is fantastic. It looks and sounds amazing, the production design, stunts and effects are all top notch. Even the music is fantastic. (No Prince songs to announce the Joker's arrival in this film!) The performances are nearly all spot on. Everyone is banging on about Heath Ledger's Joker, and he is good, although probably not the Oscar-worthy performance some people are calling it, but he does blow away Jack Nicholson's pantomime act in the 1989 Batman. Ledger's Joker is a vicious psychopath, not doing it for money (which he proves in one fire-raising scene) but because his nihilistic antics amuse him. Ledger's performance in this movie, however, is not as good as Gary Oldman's as Jim Gordon. It's less showy, certainly, but Oldman is, for me, the standout in this film, and the best Commissioner Gordon ever (that said, the others weren't much competition, really.) Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne/Batman isn't lost in all the acting showboating, he more than holds his own, and is a more convincing Wayne than he was last time around. Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent is also good, but he does just degenerate to thug mode when he becomes Two-Face. Still better than Tommy Lee Jones' hammy turn in Batman Forever, though. In fact, this is a good ensemble piece with all of the performers doing their jobs superbly.
This movie is amazing. This is how you should do sequels. I'm just hoping the director Christopher Nolan sticks around to do the inevitable third movie (seeing as it has had the biggest opening of any movie ever) because this franchise is, so far, something special, and finally the character of Batman is getting the movies it deserves.
One thing I will complain about however, is its rating. It's been given a 12A, which means young kids can go and see it with their folks, but this is not a kids film. It's violent and scary, and any six-year old youngster who is going to see it because he loves Batman is going to be absolutely freaked out (and not in a good way) by the movie. Although the violence isn't that bloody or graphic, it's still too nasty for young children to watch. Also, given the knife-crime epidemic that this country is undergoing at the moment, I don't think kids need to see the scene in which the Joker explains why he loves stabbing people. I can also imagine young children getting frightened by Two-Face (although it's fantastic FX work combining prosthetics and CGI, but it's too gruesome for small kids to see.)
That said, this 34 year-old loved it, and I want to see it again, a film this layered and intelligent needs multiple viewings, I reckon. The best movie of the year so far and probably the best comic-book movie ever. Awesome.