At this point, I don't think it's something I need to worry about, but Spoilers are ahead.
Well, as shameful as it is for a Batman aficionado like myself to say, until yesterday I had only seen the film once. But with the building anticipation for the iminent release of The Man of Steel this week, and my excitement over Square Enix Products' hereto acclaimed Dark Knight Triology Joker Play Arts Kai figure, I decided to take another look at the film and see if I really thought it was as impressive a beast as we all remember.
And, to be upfront and honest, it mostly was. Watching the film for a second time many years after the first viewing, I didn't really remember some scenes or details, which was nice since the surprises of those scenes were still fresh. Of course, Heath Ledger's Joker brings a dark, grim charisma to the film and steals all scenes he's in, and thought his scenes do take up a large portion of the film, it still doesn't feel like he's in enough of the film- which says alot about the character.
Aaron Eckhart does a fantastic job as Harvey Dent, playing the role with conviction and veracity that illustrate the rage bubbling just below the surface to give birth to Two Face. The characters returning from Batman Begins all do a great job and seeing Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman perform in high drama roles is always a treat. Christian Bale is the best Bruce Wayne we've had to date (my issues with The Dark Knight Rises aside) and I really like how desperate and unsure his Bruce and Batman were in the film when he confronted with their limits and the prospect of having to go beyond them. Also, seeing Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow again was a fun Easter egg for those who recognized the character and if, by some slim chance, The Man of Steel is set in the same world, a part of me hopes he'll be running around there, too.
So, I really enjoyed the film. Upon the second viewing, my issues with the length of the film were smoothed over in regard for the tension building and suspense the Joker's scenes needed to be unnerving. I thought story was solid, and one thing that I really hated about The Dark Knight Rises- the impression that Batman is much more fighter than detective- is a great deal more balanced in this film as we do see Batman doing forensics and puzzle solving here that we don't in the sequel. Though, I do wish there was more of the detective work, all the same.
As great as the movie was, it wasn't with out its flaws. Two points of contention I have with the film are Maggie Gyllenhaal's Rachel Dawes character and the film's ending. While I didn't have a problem with Ms. Gyllenhaal's portrayal of the character, I was displeased with the way she was written. Rachel Dawes was supposed to be the only person, besides Alfred and Lucius Fox, who knew Batman's true identity, as well as his closest friend, but throughout the entirety of the film the only thing she really did was second guess or fail to understand Bruce's intentions and motivations. This made her very unlikable and for me, diminished the impact of her death, which could have felt much more powerful.
Similarly, the way the climax of the film was robbed of much of its intended impact by the poor handling of Harvey Dent's death. The entire point of the film was that Batman has limits that keep him from being a madman of the same caliber as the Joker, and that limit is that he does not kill. While the first film did establish that though he would not kill, Batman was also not obligated to save his enemies, this film ends with Batman knocking himself, James Gordon Junior and Two Face over a ledge and Two Face falling to his death, even though there were seemingly many other ways he could have handled the situation. Perhaps it is just the angle of the cut or the timing of the scene, but I feel the situation could have been addressed better.
Still, these minor gripes aside, the film is still a wonderful movie and truly deserving of it's reputation as the stuff of legends. While this week will ultimately tell us whether or not we will be spending more time in Nolan's DC Universe proper, I think that The Dark Knight's legacy will be felt in DC's Cinematic Universe for many years to come.