Wow. This movie is amazing. Everything I could have hoped for, the Batman movie I always wanted. It's faithful in all the important ways, it's smart and takes the character seriously, and includes many nods to lesser-known characters, like Falcone and Zsasz. Also, Jim Gordon finally, finally gets a chance to shine instead of bumbling around in the background like the embarrassing, barely noticeable version played by Pat Hingle in the previous four movies.
The Scarecrow, one of the best Bat-villains, and one I couldn't believe they passed over for so long, finally appears, never in all-out comic book form, but in a way that fits the realistic tone and gels perfectly with the themes of fear that run throughout the movie. Can you believe they resorted to Poison Ivy and D-lister Mr. Freeze before the Scarecrow? What were they thinking? Well, it turned out for the best, since now Scarecrow gets the good movie.
Some critics seem to think it's too serious to attract a mass audience, which is sad. I hope the public will prove them wrong. This movie deserves to outgross every previous Batman movie. I hope it will, and I hope Christopher Nolan decides to go forward with the sequels himself. It would be a real shame if they finally nailed the franchise only to lose it again next time out. This is far and away the best Batman movie, better than Tim Burton's Batman, better even than the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Burton's Batman has lost some luster for me over the years, but to its credit, that's the movie that piqued my interest in the Batman comics and that is worth something. Even so, this is better. It's a heightened reality--verging on surreal yet grounded in a totally plausible world that looks like an actual place, not an overdesigned sound stage.
The only real weakness is the Hollywood ageist casting of young faces where they don't really belong. Katie Holmes as an assistant D.A.? She's how old, 25? Didn't she just play a college freshman in First Daughter? Law school, maybe, lawyer, a stretch, but assistant D.A.? She couldn't just be a clerk in the D.A.'s office? Similarly, fresh-faced young Dr. Jonathan Crane also looks more like a graduate student than the city's busiest psychologist, passing judgment on insanity pleas and running Arkham Asylum. But if you can suspend your disbelief on these counts, the rewards are well worth it.