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The follow-up to the action hit Batman Begins, The Dark Knight reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, who reprises the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne. In the new film, Batman raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker. The cast is uniformly excellent. Bale is a fantastic Batman, the perfect mix of playboy playfulness as Bruce Wayne and tortured crime fighter as Batman. You can sense that the time between the two films has allowed Bale to refine his take on the dual characters, and the end result is an even more nuanced performance than his first time out in the cowl. He remains the only actor other than Adam West to make the character his own. The rest of the cast is equally impressive. Aaron Eckhart continues to demonstrate just how diverse an actor he is. Aaron Eckhart's Two-Face is also light years removed from Tommy Lee Jones' loud and overbearing Two-Face. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine bring depth and respectability to their roles. Maggie Gyllenhall makes a fine replacement for Katie Holmes. The performances are great. The reinterpretation of the two villains in Dark Knight beats both previous incarnations hands down. Whereas Nicholson played the Joker as a portly, slightly menacing clown, the younger Ledger plays him as a dangerous psychopath with makeup by Francis Bacon. Ledger is all unpredictable brooding menace and psychosis with none of the cartoonish maniacal laughter and other clichéd hammy mannerisms of Nicholson's Joker. Nothing is wasted, there's not a minute in the film that doesn't fit into a bigger, broader, deeper picture. That goes for everything, right down to the way Nolan filmed it. The Dark Knight is both entertainment and art, slipped into a dark, gritty package. It marks a completely new direction for that which we've come to know as the superhero genre, here's hoping others have the sense to follow it. Whether or not they do it's unlikely anyone, including Nolan himself, will ever top what's been accomplished here. It works on every level.
The tag line says it all: Oh yes, there will be blood!
Saw II follows on the heels of Saw, as another taught, tense thriller. This is NOT a movie where people walk backwards into dark rooms. This is NOT a movie where people pull sheets off bodies. That's all too predictable for Saw II. In fact, there's virtually nowhere in this film, where you can say that you've got it figured out. From the start until the end, you'll be given puzzling situation in which you wouldn't like to be part of at any time in your life. The sadistic approach of the Jigsaw killer is still pretty impressive. Worth watching again and again.