Movie Ratings, Family Movie Reviews & More!

Still shot from the movie: The Dark Knight (Batman).

The Dark Knight (Batman)

It's Batman to the rescue again as Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) dons his super hero suit and protects the citizens of Gotham City. This time he is battling the likes of Joker (Heath Ledger) and Two Face (Aaron Eckhart) -- and the crimes of these evildoers are no laughing matter.

Overall Grade: C+
Violence: D
Sexual Content: B+
Language: B-
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Release Date: 17 Jul 2008
Run Time: 152
MPAA Rating: PG-13

0

In-Depth Review

"Dark" is the key word in describing the tone of life in Gotham City during this second Batman adventure under the direction of Christopher Nolan and his writing partner and brother, Jonathan. (Their first was Batman Begins in 2005).

The ever-increasing squeeze The Dark Knight (played by Christian Bale) has on criminals in this city that bleeds corruption has created an opening for a new crime boss. Seizing the opportunity, The Joker (Heath Ledger), a ruthless fiend whose methods border on the insane, secures his position over the thugs and then plots to get his hands on Batman. To convince the crime fighter to give up his knight job, the notorious clown-faced villain begins to paint Batman into a corner by killing police and, eventually, innocent citizens.

Of course, our hero isn't likely to retire anytime soon, however his predicament is worsened by already frequent media discussions regarding his use of illegal techniques to round up Gotham's undesirables. Fortunately, he has on his side the extremely popular District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), and Chief Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman). While their appreciation of his work offers some security, a romantic triangle involving Bruce Wayne's (Batman's true identity) former girlfriend Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and her recent affection for the DA is putting pressure on the two men's working relationship. And The Joker, who is no fool, is quick to take this chance to place a wedge between the city's law enforcers.

Just as in Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne's desire to clean up the streets of his dank metropolis is just as strong. But this time he is meeting with far more resistance and complex circumstances, making the delineation between good and evil much more blurred. Is Batman really nothing more than a vigilante who feels free to literally fly above the law? Or are his techniques truly helpful? Yet one fact remains without question: no matter how hard the protagonist tries, there is always a never-ending supply of corruption and misery. Whether this depiction is truth or fiction, parents need to be aware this movie portrays some heavy content that transcends beyond other action figure flicks.

Definitely the film's greatest source of "evil" is also its greatest triumph. Ledger's representation of The Joker is nothing short of disturbing, giving this late actor a memorable exit from the screen. Compared to Jack Nicholson's version from 1989, Ledger clearly takes the character from comic misfit to what really amounts to a demented terrorist. Like many other movies exploiting our security scared society, this Joker uses body bombs, videotapes sent to television newsrooms portraying demeaning and humiliating acts, and mass rampage against civilians, in order to stake his claim as ruler of all things bad.

Artistically, The Dark Knight is on a level above most of the other superhero stories parading through theaters. It's pacing is precise -- an amazing achievement for a film running two-and-a-half hours -- and it leaves you feeling scared and vulnerable, again signs that the creators have done an effective job. However, the lessons and morals in this film are far more subtle and deep, and the violence is harsh with dozens of on-screen shootings, brutal physical attacks, jump scenes, and innocent bystanders in peril. Women, in particular, appear to be pawns in this society that operates under the complete rule of men.

Parents would be well advised to see the movie prior to taking older family members, or await the home video release, which will allow for better control over the viewing experience. Either way, be sure to make time afterwards to discuss the motivations and consequences behind the characters and their actions -- or you too may be in for along and sleepless dark night.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Perhaps the deepest, darkest Batman yet, this film pits the wealthy philanthropist who is determined to save his city from crime, against one of his iconic enemies—The Joker. While lessons regarding the need to fight corruption are evident, the conflict results in nearly continuous violence and verbal confrontations that are particularly disturbing for a film within the US MPAA PG-13 rating category. Violence includes frequent on-screen shootings (many are innocent bystanders who are gunned down indiscriminately), physical beatings and a man who threatens and assaults men and women (this villain holds a knife to his victims’ heads and discusses mutilating their face with the weapon). The brutality is perhaps made more disturbing through the use of topical terrorist themes and techniques, such as the use of bombs that are detonated to inflict fear and terror (in such places as hospitals and public transit), or implanted within humans. Verbal psychological torture is inflicted, with threats against children and women. There are also a couple of “jump scenes.” Language is limited to a few terms of Christian deity and a few mild profanities. A couple is briefly seen on a sofa, with the implication they were engaged in sexual activity. A scene with women wearing bikinis and a crude sexual term comprise the other sexual content. Social drinking is portrayed and a secondary character is seen smoking.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

In this film, the classic Batman enemy “The Joker” is referred to and portrayed as a terrorist. Why do you think the creators of this movie made this change? Do you feel the entertainment industry is inappropriately exploiting the current terrorist environment or do films like these help audiences to deal with the current state of the world?

A character, while discussing the enemy’s motives, observes that, “Some men just like to watch the world burn.” What might cause a person to develop such anti-social behaviors? As viewers of entertainment, do we ever fall into this personality category?

Video alternatives

Christian Bale resumes the role he played in the movie Batman Begins. This is Heath Ledger’s last film. The actor, who died tragically in January of 2008, also starred in A Knight’s Tale.

Other, less violent portrayals of superheroes can be found in Super Man and Spider-man.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition

Release Date: 24 September 2013

Warner Brothers releases their trio of Batman movies in one package: The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition. Along with a Blu-ray copy of each of the films (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises), the 6-disc set includes these bonus materials:

- Ultraviolet Digital Copies

- Premium Mattel Hot Wheels Vehicles: Batmobile, Batpod and Tumbler

- Newly commissioned collectible art cards by Mondo featuring Scarecrow, Joker, Bane, Harvey Dent, and Ra’s al Ghul

- 48-page hardcover book featuring production stills and behind the scenes images from the trilogy

- The Fire Rises: The Creation and Impact of The Dark Knight Trilogy (Ultimate Collector’s Edition exclusive)

- Christopher Nolan & Richard Donner: A Conversation (Ultimate Collector’s Edition exclusive)

Home Video Notes: The Dark Knight Trilogy

Release Date: 4 December 2012

Warner Brothers Studio is releasing all three Batman movies, starring Christian Bale in the title role, in a 5-Disc package. Featured movies include Batman Begins,The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

Home Video Notes: The Dark Knight

Release Date: 9 December 2008

The Dark Knight releases to home video with the following extras:

Movie with Focus Points (picture in picture)

Explore your favorite movies through BD-Live™, an interactive gateway to exclusive content

2.40:1 aspect ratio, with IMAX sequences in 1.78:1

Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene: Director Christopher Nolan and creative collaborators unmask the incredible detail and planning behind the film, including stunt staging, filming in IMAX®, and the new Bat-suit and Bat-pod

Explore your favorite movies through BD-Live™, an interactive gateway to exclusive content

Batman Tech: The incredible gadgets and tools (in high-def)

Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight: Delve into the psyche of Bruce Wayne and the world of Batman through real-world psychotherapy (in high-def)

Gotham Tonight: 6 episodes of Gotham Cable’s premier news program

The Galleries: The Joker cards, concept art, poster art, production stills, trailers and TV spots

Join the Conversation

About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

Harry Potter Advance Tickets

© One Voice Communications Ltd. All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | FAQ | Contact Us | Syndicated Newspaper Column