After director Christopher Nolan re-invented the Batman franchise to that of a darker, grittier, more mature experience with Batman Begins, he's returned with sequel The Dark Knight, but does it live up to its predecessor?
Financially, The Dark Knight has performed incredibly, having recently been made the fourth highest grossing film of all time. Along with the finance, it has raked in the awards, having been nominated for over 150 worldwide and winning an unbelievable 92.
Obviously, the critics and public love it. However, does it live up to the high standard generated by these incredible stats?
And the answer is, ultimately, yes. The movie is filmed in an impressive slick, shadowy style, thanks to the contributions by Cinematographer Wally Pfister.
During the film you are reacquainted with Christian Bale's brooding Batman, a character who's looking to hang up the cape and perhaps shift the power of justice to elected hero Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).
However, things are never that simple in Bat-land. Super-terrorist the Joker, played brilliantly by Heath Ledger, is out to slaughter Gotham City's residents and generally cause mayhem unless Batman steps forward and reveals himself.
And it is indeed Ledger that steals the show. Playing the Joker with a twisted level of insanity -this unstable state of mind being reflected by the camera's constant wobbling and re-focusing around the character- and yet still retaining a level of dark humor. Fantastic.
Furthermore, it is this Oscar-winning performance that uncomfortably pushes Christian Bale into the background. Not that Bale doesn't perform well as Bruce Wayne, it is as his secret identity Batman in which he is sidelined oddly and things just don't seem to fit as comfortably - the growls of inexplicable speech coming from Bale as Batman seemed a tad over the mark.
Underlining the slick imagery of The Dark Knight lays insightful moral questions. This being a film about light and dark; a subject often explored in superhero movies. However, In The Dark Knight it is explored from a different aspect; portraying the idea that Batman is an outcast, and this linking him with arch-rival: The Joker. The Joker uses this fact to try and show Batman that they are equal; regardless of motives. This is a very strong plot underline. Nevertheless, it's the sub-plots that get in the way.
For example, they try and sneak Harvey Dent's transformation from good to bad in at the end in a way that just doesn't seem to work. The way his transformation is portrayed as a moral about good turning bad gets in the way of the emotional engagement, and therefore I for one didn't really care for the character at this point.
The Dark Knight is also enhanced considerably by its soundtrack - thanks to the work of composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, who chalked up a terrific score. In particular an eerie drone heard almost subconsciously increasing in volume, warning the viewer that the Joker is nearby works brilliantly. It is also a refreshing change from what may be considered typical bad-guy themes; nice work.
To conclude, regardless of a Batman sounding In need of some lemsip (the poor Bat's voice!) and perhaps running a tad-overlong with one too many subplots, The Dark Knight is a slick, intelligent thriller for the more mature viewers of superhero films. Hugely Entertaining.