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'Dark Knight' lives up to hype

Movie review

July 30, 2008
The Dark Knight" crossed the $300 million mark in just 10 days of release, and it's easy to see why.

The second of the new Batman series — much darker than the original that had three different Batmans in the four-movie series — continued Christian Bales' excellence as both the vigilante Batman and his day persona, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.

However, the show was stolen by Heath Ledger as the Joker. Not because he died on Jan. 22, but because he was good. His brilliance, however, despite seemingly wall-to-wall action in the 2-1/2-hour movie, didn't really shine until the second half, such as when he was walking out of Gotham General Hospital in a female nurse's outfit and one of the detonators failed to work. Puzzled, he tapped it, and it blew up the final piece. Pleased, the Joker continued to walk along merrily as if nothing had happened.

Now, Jack Nicholson was great as the Joker, but Ledger, with disheveled make-up that truly said, "I'm nuts. How about you?," and the way he wiggled his tongue as he spoke, which included lines like, "If you're good at something, you do it for free," in response to an offer to be paid to kill Batman, took the Joker to a whole another level.

The only disappointment was to see Maggie Gyllenhaal, instead of Katie Holmes, as Rachel Dawes. I thought Holmes was the weak point in 2005's "Batman Begins" and Gyllenhaal did a good job, but, nonetheless, the move lacked consistency.

If the series had to be compared to another, it would be episodes I through III of "Star Wars." For starters, Liam Neeson plays the mentor in both openers (although, he turns the villain in "Batman Begins.") Secondly, both openers lay the back story for the series. The difference, however, is while you have to wait for Star Wars Episode III to say, "Wow!," you get the "Wow!" factor in the second Batman movie.

Other memorable performances include Aaron Eckhart as District Attorney Harvey Dent and the returns of Michael Caine as Alfred, the butler, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Bruce Wayne's trusted CEO at Wayne Enterprises, and Gary Oldman as Lt. James Gordon.

The only downfall to the movie — and this is a stretch — is its length. Two hours would have been much better than 2-1/2, but, hey, it's more bang for the buck.

Viewed at Corydon Cinemas, with its luxurious stadium seating, a small popcorn, nachos with extra cheese and two large sodas were a reasonable $16, especially in light of high gas prices.

Rating: 4-1/2 pens (out of five). It would have been five, if not for the length.

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