Time: 152 mins.
SYNOPSIS: Batman, Inspector Gordon and Attorney General Harvey Dent are forced to deal with the chaos unleashed by an anarchist mastermind known only as the Joker, who drives each of them to their limits to stop him.
BOTTOM LINE: Being such a big fan of Nolan and Bale's first collaboration on the rebirth of Batman, you'd think I would have rushed out to see this flick. After all the favorable reviews, my reluctance seems quite extraordinary, but I just couldn't bring myself to believe all the hype and though I enjoyed parts of this installment, it's not as good as the first. While it opens with a bang by introducing us to the deadly lunatic Joker, I found the pacing uneven and the story to be a bit too shallow, though the acting and action sequences helped to fill in the gaps. Ledger and Eckhart were worthy additions to the cast, though I must admit that Ledger's performance took a while to grow on me. I was hooked by the end, mostly because he completely convinced me that the Joker was real and a true menace to society. As for the rest of them...
Though I liked the film overall I have two issues that brought down the experience. The main one being there just wasn't enough Batman and/or Bruce Wayene. I enjoy watching Bale and too much time was spent with the other characters. Harvey Dent and the Joker were extremely interesting, but exploring their subplots didn't leave enough time to continue developing our hero. I could have lived with that if not for the presence of Maggie Gyllenhaal as the love interest. She was completely miscast in every way as the hard-nosed, idealistic lawyer Rachel Dawes, who inspires both Dent and Bruce Wayne to love her. I found myself missing Katie Holmes. I normally like Miss G, but I don't know what Nolan was thinking. Sure, on the surface she seems more mature, scrappy and intelligent than Holmes, yet her performance was limp and vacant. She just never connected with the material, leaving a huge hole where the heart of the film should have been.
Thankfully, the performances of Bale, Eckhart and Ledger more than make up for it. Their confrontations are filled with tension, since it's clear from the start that the Joker is not playing by the rules. He's out to destroy both Dent and Batman and he eventually finds the perfect way to do it, leaving both men shattered and bent on revenge. Each man brings something vastly different to the proceedings, giving their "comic book" characters real depth. The fact that only Bale will be back in any future film is a true shame. While the action sequences aren't as showy as in the first film, they're good enough to keep one interested. I also found myself wishing for a bit more art direction, the streets of Gotham looked a bit too normal for my tastes. You don't go to films based on comic books for reality. Only the costumes and toys brought any fantasy to the mix. THE DARK NIGHT is one of the better films of 2008, but the bar wasn't exactly set very high. Action junkies will love it, otherwise I think this flick may fail to impress.