While waiting impatiently for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ I found my review of the last film I wrote while interning with a local newspaper.

‘The Dark Knight’ picks up exactly where ‘Batman Begins’ left off and raises the bar on comic book movies in the process.

Immediately the audience is thrown into a bank heist orchestrated by the Joker that sets the mood of the movie where people are killed off one by one. The Joker is so cunning and so slick it seems that Batman might not win.

By the second time the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, hits the screen it seems absolutely plausible to attribute Ledger’s demise as a result of fulfilling his role as the Joker. Ledger captures the qualities of someone driven mad so convincingly audiences may wonder if he unraveled before the movie wrapped. As a result Ledger effortlessly steals the show in what is arguably his finest performance.

But do not forget Christian Bale who resurrected Batman from his previous goofy glory to a bona fide action star with Bruce Wayne’s sharp wit and the Dark Knight’s sharper weapons. Even the Joker cannot hold out for too long against this vigilante whose soul is torn between a normal life with the woman he loves and his sense of duty to protect his fellow man. Bale convinces the viewer that Wayne is going through some difficult choices.

A host of supporting actors help cultivate the darkened atmosphere including Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox who unwillingly takes control of a spying program that would make George Bush giggle with glee. There is James Gordon of the Police Department, played by Gary Oldman, who barely trusts anyone outside of his own family and the caped crusader.

Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over the role of Rachel Dawes as the love interest it seems Wayne will never have. Michael Caine returns as Albert to be Wayne’s one guiding light. Most important is Aaron Eckhardt’s appearance as District Attorney Harvey Dent, labeled as Gotham’s ‘White Knight’ to Wayne’s ‘Dark Knight,’ who fearlessly faces the mob bosses and throws them behind bars.

Dent is the center of one of the Joker’s most diabolical set-ups designed to deface Dent’s sparkling image. Here the engrossing storyline takes an even darker turn into the creation of another villain almost as unpredictable as the Joker.

The computer generated graphics meld seamlessly with live footage assuring audiences that the days of special effects that are so over-the-top they come off cheesy are long since gone.

‘The Dark Knight’ is a wildly exciting ride on any screen, particularly on IMAX where audiences feel they are a part of the action, and receives an A for acting, special effects, storyline and atmosphere. Parents should be cautioned to follow the PG-13 rating on ‘The Dark Knight’ as many scenes feature violent action sequences.

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