>Dark Knight

>Batman Begins is about the journey Bruce Wayne undergoes to become a hero to Gotham City and Dark Knight is about the consequences of that decision–not only on Bruce, but everyone who comes into his sphere of influence.

It’s a sharp, compelling movie that proves that summer blockbuster can appeal to all sides. It has explosions, crashes and superbly done action, but underneath that is a layer of something deeper and more thought provoking than just your ordinary action thriller. The story is about choices, decisions and consequences and the impact of all of those on the central trio of the film–Batman/Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent.

As the movie begins, it’s a year after Batman Begins and Gordon with his ally Batman is making a difference. Ordinary citizens are donning Batman like outfits to battle the forces of corruption. Onto the scene comes the new district attorney, Harvey Dent, who becomes part of the crusade. Because of an early success of battling the mob and corruption in Gotham, the events of the second half of the film are set in motion.

The Joker, who Batman and the police have been pursuing, emerges from the shadows, telling the mob that their problem is the Batman and offering to take him out. But what the Joker is doing is throwing disorder into the order that everyone is striving to create. He’s a wild card, unpredictable and rogue. The Joker isn’t bound by the code of ethics and rules that bind the other three and he slowly begins to push their buttons, especially with Batman.

The idea of what makes a hero and just where that line is between good and evil that makes the movie fascinating. Also, the movie doesn’t shy away from having our heroes have to make hard choices and live with them. The Joker creates scenarios that are all no win for everyone and stands back as choices are made and lives are shattered. It’s only after he’s seen how far he can push the trio that he makes his ultimate move–deciding to take over Gotham City.

This is not your typical summer blockbuster. It’s dark, it’s going to make you think and it’s going to entertain you no end. It doesn’t have easy answers and while it will leave you yearning for the next installment (and there had better be a next one), it leaves our heroes in a place similar to Empire Strikes Back–with the good guys taking one on the chin.

All the praise you’ve heard about Heath Ledger’s work as Joker is well-earned. His take on the Joker is mesmerizing. The scenes where he recounts how he became scarred are among the scariest and most compelling in the movie. But while Ledger is on another level, so is everyone else in the movie.

If you’ve not seen it, go and see it now. Don’t wait.

I will offer one warning–this is PG-13 for a reason. If you’ve got kids under 13, it might be best to make them wait to see it. This is a dark, scary movie and there are some parts that could be disturbing to the under 13 crowd. Heaven knows I’m over 13 and I found some parts disturbing myself.

Disturbing, compelling, though-provoking and everything it promised to be and more. Dark Knight delivers. Best movie of the summer.

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