| After watching this intense and suspenseful crime drama, you will be thankful for our system of law and order. This sequel to “Batman Begins” is as much a psychological study as an action-packed thrill ride.
The gripping story written by Christopher Nolan (who also directs) and his brother, Jonathan, never lets up on the accelerator. The movie is precisely timed and flawlessly edited. It passes by so quickly that you are never cognizant of the 2 ½ hour running time.
The movie is a masterpiece exceeding all the advance promotional hype. It takes comic book characters seriously. It falls short of “The Godfather,” but warrants comparisons to “The Untouchables,” “Goodfellas” and “Heat.”
The movie opens with a bank robbery in Gotham City (Chicago does the honors) by criminals wearing clown masks. We are introduced to the mastermind ringleader known by his calling card as The Joker (the late Heath Ledger). He is one of the greatest villains in cinematic history.
He is a malevolent psychopath who enjoys creating havoc and chaos. He pushes civilized people to the limits and tests their codes of morality.
Batman (Christian Bale), Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) are the defenders of the community who spearhead a crime-fighting operation to eradicate this evil and elusive madman.
A romantic triangle involving Bruce Wayne (Bale), Dent and Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Katie Holmes) is a peripheral subplot.
The movie hits the jackpot in the “wow” category. It has one of the greatest chase sequences through an underground highway ever captured on film.
Other strengths are the breathtaking stunt work, expertly choreographed martial arts fight sequences, neat gadgets, pyrotechnic fireworks, Batman’s new flexible suit and the two-wheeled “Bat-Pod.”
The acting of the entire ensemble cast is outstanding. Golden Globe winner Ledger deserves a posthumous Oscar in the supporting actor category. He commands the screen in the same way that Javier Bardem did last year in “No Country for Old Men.”
Old pros Morgan Freeman (as corporate director Lucius Fox) and Michael Caine (as the butler Alfred) are great in smaller supporting roles. The dialogue is filled with quotable lines and pearls of wisdom.
The movie is serious and dark with very little humor. It eliminates the cheese and campiness of the television show.
The movie is full of surprises. It may require repeat viewings since it moves so fast and has many complications. It has a rip-roaring musical score that sometimes drowns out the dialogue.
Half a dozen scenes totally about 20 minutes, including the three biggest action sequences, were shot in the IMAX format. Although originally released last July, the 2008 box office champion (domestic gross receipts in excess of $531 million) is back for a return engagement in advance of the Academy Awards ceremony. This blockbuster should become the fourth film in history to reach the $1 billion mark worldwide joining “Titanic,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”
Opportunity knocks again for moviegoers in Johnson County to experience it in the way it was meant to be exhibited on the giant IMAX screen exclusively at AMC Studio 30 in Olathe.
Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"