It reaches way beyond the "superhero movie" genre. In this movie you will find, of course, action, but also drama, suspense, tension, and even humor, all so delicately balanced that you just have to let yourself go with the flow. It's a movie with the classic themes of good vs. evil, order vs. anarchy, sanity vs. madness, and it's amazing to see how they manage to include characters so nuanced and elaborate that they tip-toe in the fine lines between, and sometimes even slip up, to make you aware that things are just not black or white.
Gotham never seemed so real. It's dark, gritty and dangerous. Criminals lurk in the shadows, but someone lurks there with them: Batman. Batman strives to clean up Gotham, but crime seems to rise more than ever, as the Joker gains a central role amongst Gotham's mob. With his evil machinations and love of anarchy, the Joker will try to twist and turn Batman's ideals of justice by proving everyone can be corrupted, and that the only right to live is without any rules.
The plot is great. Like I mentioned before, it's a bundle of different elements, all intertwined, and it works very well. I loved how dark and tense the movie gets at some points: I won't give examples because I would hate to spoil anything.
The performances were all very good, but I have to point one out. And yes, you already know who it's going to be.
Heath Ledger was brilliant as the Joker. Everything they've been saying is true. He plays a terrifying, insane, maniac, nervous, and even funny Joker. He is so evil and disturbing, and still he makes you laugh along with him. His voice and laughter are purely unnerving, and his moves and quirks are something to be seen. It was a fantastic performance, and everything the Joker should be. There have been talks of an Oscar nomination for Ledger, but I don't know if this is the kind of role valued by the Academy; probably, if Heath hadn't passed away, he'd not see a nomination for this. But we'll never know. What I DO know is that his Joker ruled. It was a pleasure to watch, albeit a bittersweet one, because it's sad that it was his last role. I would have liked to see him in many, many more movies.
Aaron Eckhart was great as Harvey Dent as well. This is a character that suffers major changes throughout the movie, and Aaron was convincing all the way. He was a great surprise.
Christian Bale was awesome, as always. His Batman is always a little strange because it takes a little time to get used to his voice, but he can make it work. Plus, I love how he slips in and out of Batman, he is a great Bruce Wayne, really embodying the rich playboy and fooling everyone around. The changes he, as Batman, goes through in this movie are also very interesting to watch.
Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine play Lucius Fox and Alfred Pennyworth, and they're really good, as it would be expected. Maggie Gylhenhall does a decent job and Rachel, definitely better than Katie Holmes, but it's still not a very compelling character. Gary Oldman is still a great Comissioner Gordon, another character that sees his trusts and beliefs shaken to the core by the brilliant machinations of The Joker.
Another thing that needs to be mentioned is the cinematography. Everything looks brilliant and, most of all, REAL. The action is palpable, and it feels actually dangerous. Thankfully the movie relied on organic rather than on CGI effects, and the result is amazing.
All in all, this is a blockbuster, yes, but a great one, with feelings, substance and quality, not just some popcorn brainless entertainment.
Superhero movies watch out, your bar has just been raised to new heights.
I give it 5 out of 5 stars.