The Dark KnightSo, by way of update: in this little post I asked whether the hype over the new Batman movie was really deserved, and in particular whether the applause for Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was merited or whether it was colored by the fact that he’s six feet under.

About an hour ago, Stephen came back from seeing the film and reports:

“My view is that the film is possibly the best of the Batman series, although a bit too long for me. As for Heath Ledger – his performance as the Joker was fantastic, topping Jack Nicholson’s portrayal a few years back.”

Well, I went to see the movie myself last night, and I completely agree. This is easily one of the most impressive movies I’ve ever seen. Theatrically, it’s unbelievably detailed; spectacularly so. Christian Bale’s Batman is enigmatic and very cool. Commissioner Gordon couldn’t have been better cast, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are very enjoyable in their supporting roles. Maggie Gyllenhaal pulls off the love interest, and Aaron Eckhart turns in a great performance too.

But the real star of the show, unanimously – no bullshit – is Heath Ledger. Ledger’s Joker was perfectly executed, with a performance so totally saturated with the Joker persona that it accomplishes the feat of being both hilarious and frightening at the same time. His stilted, quirky, affected portrayal is so good that Ledger became the Joker in this film, and it’s what people will remember about it in years to come.

(By the way, the Rotten Tomatoes rating has gone up since my last comment: to 95 percent.) A must see.