As a movie franchise, Batman has seen its ups and downs, from the good (Batman Returns) to downright terrible (Batman and Robin). It's no wonder that Warner Bros decided to reboot everything in 2005 with Batman Begins, which featured a darker, grittier Batman, and less of the circus atmosphere that pervaded the previous films.
Now comes the sequel, titled The Dark Knight, which I think is perhaps the best Batman film of them all. In fact, it doesn't even feel like a Batman movie--it's like watching a fast-paced mystery thriller.
The plot centers on Gotham City mired in crime and corruption, due to organized crime syndicates led by a psychotic, freakish-looking villain called The Joker. So it's up to Batman, the newly-promoted Commissioner Gordon, and District Attorney Harvey Dent to try and restore the city to any semblance of normalcy, but as always in films like these, things get complicated.
This new movie sees Batman firmly in place and acknowledged as the city's resident vigilante, with Bruce Wayne living in some posh high-rise instead of Wayne Manor (which was destroyed in the first film). The "Batcave" is now some kind of humongous underground bunker with awesome indoor lighting, filled with hydraulic-operated lifts and assorted gadgets--there's even an incinerator tucked away in a wall somewhere.
They probably hired the same interior decorator for the R&D Department of Wayne Enterprises, because it looks exactly the same; now I'm a minimalist myself, but come on, I really don't go for the-huge-empty-spaces-with-no-furniture look at all.
The cast turn in excellent performances, most notably by the late Heath Ledger as the Joker. Ledger's Joker is both deranged and maniacal, complete with grubby, scary make-up. His portrayal makes Jack Nicholson's version a paltry, has-been clown.
As for Batman himself, I had trouble accepting his hoarse way of speaking whenever he wears his costume--in fact, I couldn't help but burst out laughing every time he'd talk that way, and it turns out I wasn't the only one who found this hilarious, LOL.
While the music by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard was also great, it sounds very similar to the musical score heard in Happy Feet; maybe it's just me, but they really sound the same, hehe.
All kidding aside, The Dark Knight is one of the best movies I've seen so far this year. I actually saw it twice; the first time during the week it opened, and a second time during our office screening. Highly recommended.