Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 12:26 UK

Press views: The Dark Knight

Christian Bale as Batman
British actor Christian Bale plays Batman, aka Bruce Wayne
Critics have begun delivering their verdicts on the hotly-anticipated Batman film The Dark Knight after the film had its world premiere at in New York, on Monday.

Christian Bale reprises his role as the Caped Crusader, opposite the late Heath Ledger who has received plaudits for his role as The Joker.

Sir Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Maggie Gyllenhaal also star in the Christopher Nolan-directed film.


Having memorably explored the Caped Crusader's origins in Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan puts all of Gotham City under a microscope in The Dark Knight, the enthralling second instalment of his bold, bracing and altogether heroic reinvention of the iconic franchise.

An ambitious, full-bodied crime epic of gratifying scope and moral complexity, this is seriously brainy pop entertainment that satisfies every expectation raised by its hit predecessor and then some.

That should also hold true at the box office, with Heath Ledger's justly anticipated turn as the Joker adding to the must-see excitement surrounding the Warner Bros release.


Even under ordinary circumstances, The Dark Knight would have been one of the most hotly awaited movies of the summer blockbuster season.

The loss of Heath Ledger to an accidental prescription-drug overdose in January has amplified the buzz around the film - and his crazed performance as the Joker - to extraordinary levels.

Nothing could possibly satisfy that kind of expectation. The Dark Knight comes pretty close.

Christopher Nolan's film is indeed an epic that will leave you staggering from the theatre, stunned by its scope and complexity.


The Dark Knight is pure adrenaline. Returning director Christopher Nolan, having dispensed with his introspective, moody origin story, now puts the Caped Crusader through a decathlon of explosions, vehicle flips, hand-to-hand combat, mid-air rescues and pulse-pounding suspense.

Bale again brilliantly personifies all the deep traumas and misgivings of Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne. A bit of Hamlet is in this Batman.

Ledger's performance is a beauty. His Joker has a slow cadence of speech, as if weighing words for maximum mischief and contempt. He moves languidly as if to savour his dark deeds, his head and body jerking at times from an overload of brain impulses.


Heads up: a thunderbolt is about to rip into the blanket of bland we call summer movies.

The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan's absolute stunner of a follow-up to 2005's Batman Begins, is a potent provocation decked out as a comic-book movie.

Feverish action? Check. Dazzling spectacle? Check. Devilish fun? Check. But Nolan is just warming up.

There's something raw and elemental at work in this artfully imagined universe. Striking out from his Batman origin story, Nolan cuts through to a deeper dimension.


Nolan dispenses with the stylised Gothic sets we're accustomed to in the series: he makes no attempt to hide the fact that Gotham City is modern Chicago.

Gone, too, is the antic sense of humour that Tim Burton brought to the show.

There's not a touch of lightness in Bale's taut, angst-ridden superhero, and as the two-and-a-half-hour movie enters its second half, the unvarying intensity and the sometimes confusing action sequences take a toll.

You may emerge more exhausted than elated. Nolan wants to prove that a superhero movie needn't be disposable, effects-ridden junk food, and you have to admire his ambition.

But this is Batman, not Hamlet. Call me shallow, but I wish it were a little more fun.

Stars' tributes to Ledger's Joker
15 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Dark Knight premiere
15 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
Imax 'may show Batman all night'
11 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
Dark Knight dedicated to Ledger
27 Jun 08 |  Entertainment
Heath Ledger autopsy inconclusive
24 Jan 08 |  Entertainment

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