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</script></div>{/googleAds}Batman has been a part of this reviewer's life, in some form or another, as far back as his memories take him. The reruns of the TV show entertained him before he knew what camp was; the Hanna Barbara and Filmation cartoons thrilled him on weekends; and for the last 25 years or so, he has eagerly awaited every issue of Detective Comics and Batman to arrive in his mailbox. Never was his excitement more palpable along with the rest of the world when it was announced a dark version of the Bat would hit our screens in 1989...

|The film was a major hit and deservedly so and a major influence on the succeeding comic book movie adaptations into a new century. But for some reason, especially after the hype of ‘Batmania' had subsided, Tim Burton's version of the Dark Knight seemed to lose a little of its lustre... and those in the comic community seemed to think it was a great movie, but not quite the quintessential version we waited for.

I, personally, love Tim Burton's version, but placing it in a scale of seminal movies throughout my life, I have to say no Batman film as much as I love the character had ever captured me heart and soul like Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark did... that was until about six hours ago.

The Dark KnightChristopher Nolan rebooted the ailing franchise 3 years ago with Batman Begins, and primed the world once more for the further adventures of Batman. The film was an excellent take on the Dark Knight, intelligently presented with a solid understanding of the character's psychology, and stands to date as one of the best origin stories told for any character thus far. But it wasn't without it's ho-hum elements the villains were good, but not great. But Nolan, so it seems, was just warming up.

Although The Dark Knight has been heavily marketed, (with far too many trailers, Warner Bros. you give too much away) either age, or the constant disappointment of over-hyped event films, has tempered any expectations this reviewer had. I had full faith that this would be another solid effort from Nolan (he hasn't made a film I haven't liked) but all the buzz about the film, and how good the late Heath Ledger was, and how brilliant it was going to be, washed over me with little effect. I went in hopeful, but with a cautious ‘let's wait and see' attitude.

What unfolded over the course of more than two and half hours is nothing short of Nolan's masterpiece. In a crammed cinema, filled with every demographic you could think of, not one eye left that screen for a second. Not one person uttered a word from the first frame until the last, and when it was done, I watched in amazement as 500 people remained in their seats to watch all of the credits in silence.

With the copious amounts of trailers and publicity for this flick, I'm not going to get too much into the story. It'll be all the more magical just going in with the least amount of information possible. Sufficed to say Batman faces off against The Joker and eventually Harvey Dent (Two Face). What unfolds is by the far the most affecting, dark, complex and frightening Batman story yet committed to film. The Nolan brothers' script interweaves multitudes of subplots seamlessly across the board to give you a fully fleshed out Gotham City. And in this city, playing off every social layer within against each other, they unleash The Joker an anarchic, menacing force of nature that spells frightening death and destruction to everyone and everything foolish enough to listen to or get near him. This Joker is a villain for the ages, and destined to become one of the greatest screen villains of all time.

I am not speaking of ill of the dead when I tell you I was diametrically opposed to Heath Ledger getting this role when it was announced. I couldn't see it. I never liked his work (though admittedly, I hadn't seen Brokeback Mountain at the time) and my excitement at seeing Batman vs. The Joker again all but vanished. Within five seconds of him on screen you forget this is an actor. Ledger is not home when he plays The Joker rarely do you see the combination of a performer and character blend into an entity that registers as real and The Joker is frighteningly real through this film. Ledger disappears from view and memory, and considering all the attention surrounding his untimely death attached to that role, this is no small accomplishment. I rolled my eyes twenty four hours ago at the loads of people saying ‘Oscar,' now I bloody well hope they give him the statue. This is greatest screen villain portrayed since Hannibal Lector.

Aaron Eckhart may get lost in the wake of Ledger's performance, but he shouldn't be. Finally, we see Two Face conceived as he should be: a tragic fallen hero who's journey throughout the film goes for your gut... and gets it. His transformation is horrific and for those remembering Tommy Lee Jones in bubblegum pink latex, be warned... this monster will make your cringe in pity as much as you do in fear.

The remaining cast most returning from the previous instalment build on their respective characters, delving deeper and adding richer layers this time round as The Joker brings about ramifications that change all their lives forever, forcing them to face who they really are to rise above the anarchy he brings. Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, and for but for the annoyance of continuity, is a welcome one with a greater effect on the character of Bruce Wayne this time round. All in all, though this film belongs to the bad guys... only not in a bad way.

Nolan told reporters recently that he had trepidations about doing a Batman sequel, citing The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part 2 as examples of the very select group of films that exceed the quality of the original. With The Dark Knight he joins them. This is the finest super hero film ever made; one of the finest films made this century; and FINALLY an assured future classic starring this reviewer's favourite hero: Batman.

Component Grades
5 Stars
2 stars
DVD Experience
3.5 stars


DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.40:1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French-Canadian, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: Dolby True HD; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French-Canadian: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.

The single-disc widescreen edition contains no other special features whatsoever.

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging