"The Dark Knight" Lives Up to the Hype

"Some men aren't looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn." These are the words Michael Caine's loyal Alfred uses to describe the Joker, Batman's nemesis in "The Dark Knight." A follow-up to his 2005 origin story "Batman Begins," Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" is a delightfully relentless thrill ride that forces Batman to face not only inner demons but those in the outside world as well. And, in a surprising twist and risky move on Nolan's part, we find that Batman is not the star of the show; he has become the sidekick to a devilish villain.

In "Batman Begins," Bruce Wayne's childhood friend Rachel Dawes (then played by Katie Holmes) told him, "Justice is about harmony; revenge is about making yourself feel better." This realization gave birth to Gotham's hero, but the city now is far from harmonious. The mob manages to stay one step ahead of the police and even more criminals run loose in the city - even the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) makes an appearance. The "Bat-man" has even inspired copycat vigilantes, but they don't possess Wayne's means, technology, or style. The public has lost faith in the once-hailed hero, and Wayne (Christian Bale) wonders if the city no longer needs him. Along with Lt. Gordon (Gary Oldman), Wayne throws his support behind Gotham's new D.A. and white knight Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), a determined do-gooder who has won the hearts of Gotham's citizens, including Dawes, with his public campaign to rid the city of the mob. Batman, however, realizes that his work is not finished when a psychopathic murderer known as the Joker appears. Claiming to be "a man without a plan," this madman organizes elaborate mind games and moral challenges to show Batman and his law-abiding comrades that even the best men are capable of falling into darkness.

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