The sequel to 2005's Batman Begins is the ideal summer blockbuster. It's got the hype, the explosions, and the mass pop-culture allure.
At the same time, The Dark Knight isn't a summer popcorn blockbuster. At least not entirely. Yes, it's loud, explosive, exciting, and fun. And yes, it possesses the kind of action set pieces that cause us to exclaim with that half-exhale, half-laugh that marks shock and awe. Under all that, though, lives an unnerving, serious, and ambitious crime drama about three good men with the courage to stand against evil—and how evil responds.
Once again, director Christopher Nolan takes the typical summer blockbuster and infuses it with complex storytelling, artful moviemaking, and thought-provoking depth.
The movie opens about a year after Batman's arrival in Gotham. It's a different city: crime is no longer dominant and fearless. Petty criminals rethink crimes when they spot the Bat-signal. Copycat (or copybat?) vigilantes fight crime with homemade costumes and guns. And law enforcement has grown bolder, especially the newly elected District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), a daring do-gooder whom the city calls the "white knight," and whom Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) thinks is the face of hope he's been waiting for to take over his war on crime. Together, with Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), Batman and Dent create a triumvirate of justice to crush the criminal underworld.
And then the Joker (Heath Ledger) shows up. A terrorist of chaos, this loose cannon is bent on proving that everyone—especially Batman—is as deranged, primal, and ugly as he is. They just need a push. So, he starts pushing.
There is hefty story material here. Can decent people walk in a land of indecency without ...