Box art for The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

action & adventure, drama, thrillers

The Dark Knight reunites Christian Bale with director Christopher Nolan and takes Batman across the world in his quest to fight a growing criminal threat known as The Joker.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 14
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
1 out of 5
2 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
2 out of 5

Excellent sequel much darker, more violent than the first.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this sequel to Batman Begins is an excellent movie, it's also much darker and more violent than the first one. Remember: Not all Batmen are created equal. Even though this movie is about a comic-book character, neither it nor its flawed hero and villain are aimed at younger kids or appropriate for them. The film is loaded with intense action, from bombs and bullets to martial-arts fighting and hand-to-hand combat. In addition to the hard-hitting action, expect some drinking and a bit of sexuality. And The Joker's nightmarish appearance has the potential to frighten viewers of all ages. Much of the movie's buzz surrounds actor Heath Ledger's excellent work in that villainous role -- his final completed part before his January 2008 death from an accidental drug overdose.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. How does the film differentiate between "good" and "bad" uses of violence?
  • What distinguishes Batman from The Joker? Both are angry and dark; why is one a hero and one a villain? Is the rule of law more important than the rule of force?
  • What does it take to maintain order in the face of those who try to create chaos? Does keeping the public safe from harm justifying curtailing their right to privacy?
  • Talk about the media coverage around Ledger's role in the film. How does a tragedy like his death affect a film's marketing and publicity?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 10
    see all The Dark Knight reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: Flawed and overrated.

- Adam Nayman, Reverse Shot, Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fresh: Completely lacking in vanity, Ledger creates his finest performance.

- Brett Michel, Boston Phoenix, Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fresh: Heath Ledger is Diana Ross and these other kids are The Supremes. Believe the hype, Mr. Ledger as The Joker is categorically brilliant. The late-great actor turned another Batman movie into a riveting film that will be Oscar worthy only because of him.

- Clay Cane,, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

5 stars

A very good film with an awful lot of hype, and just about lives up to it. This is how we want to see Batman, a much darker version than most of the comical offerings from years ago. This is intense crime/action/drama at it's best with some neat twists, great action scenes and wonderful acting talent on show. It's a little long but you barely notice as it progresses at a great pace with lots of great plot lines. See it as soon as you can!

- Deano78, Saturday, August 21, 2010

2 stars

This was a huge let down with a disappointing outcome. I can't say that this movie was entirely bad, but it was shameful to see how it turned out. I had very high expectations for this to even except it for what it is. I anticipated - much like many others - The Dark Knight for quite some time; feeling that it'd be the most astonishing film I'd see in years. Boy, do I feel sorry for myself. The story was slightly unstable and care free. The first half was a serious problem for me to enjoy. I didn't like it all too much. It was too random and had little excitement. Lau was useless to begin with, Coleman Reese was a meaningless threat, Bruce Wayne and the Russian ballet, especially his date, Natasha, added up to being just too much glass I had to shallow if you know what I mean]. The Dark Knight didn't have much of a plot, story, or purpose. To quote Heath Ledger, "I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it. I just do things". This centers on the film's "plot" as well, but just one part of it. This half is The Joker being completely destructive unexpectedly. This other half is Harvey Dent, later known as Two-Face. Harvey Dent's story revolves around yet another quote from the film, "You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain". That's what The Dark Knight is all about. It's the adjective for Dent, Wayne, and Joker. They all have that going for them. Heath Ledger: a brilliant actor with no limits in this thrill ride. He displayed one of the greatest and most honorable performances in any film I've seen. I'd say that he was better than the hype declared. I enjoyed every scene he had and I wish he could've been in more. When you watch this, you don't see Heath Ledger at all. You see what Heath was able to bring us. He brought something much more than I could have ever hoped for. He ended his career with no such flaw. I will never forget what I saw. I will never forget him. Believe me when I say this, if it weren't for Heath Ledger, this movie would have no impact on me. No one should compare Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger in any way by their performances as The Joker. Honestly, they're both great and unique in their own way. Jack was outgoing, fresh, comedic, crazy. Heath was strong, demented, clever, witty. They're both fantastic. Personally, Ledger was more enjoyable to me. He put a smile on my face and he didn't even have use a knife. He gave the performance of the decade, in the movie event of the decade. That doesn't mean he's better than Nicholson. I respect them both as The Joker. I know many find Jack to be the true definition of The Joker. Others would disagree and say Heath was much better in his figure and presentation. It really doesn't matter what the contrast between the two are. Heath and Jack are two different Jokers. Deal with it. Oh no! This is the point where I pile on the negativity. It seems pointless to evolve this into a huge rant, so I'll just squeeze it all into one paragraph. Christian Bale was far away from his usual acting. He had a lazier way of being Wayne. He added no emotion or drama to it; just another stiff. I'm sure his action figure is more active than he was. But his worst feature was without doubt his deep, scuffed voice in the bat-suit. Everyone can agree that it was annoying and didn't get any better. I wouldn't be surprised he got laryngitis from it. Anyway, Maggie Gyllenhaal was nothing special. She was quite a change from Katie Holmes. More screen time for her and a whole lot of unnecessary smiling. She was just as annoying as Katie was. Aaron Eckhart brought it down a whole notch. He exaggerated every aspect of Harvey Dent from the comics. He brought shame to the character and overacted the entire time he was on screen. He had some decency, but he went just beyond what he should've. All in all, Ledger gave the only acting that went on. What did Nolan do? I was so pumped to see this since he did such a great job on Batman Begins, and especially his other films as well. Memento, The Prestige: unique, dark thrillers unlike any other. He had the experience to pull off another Batman movie. The direction he went in was off balance. No flow or rhythm was seen anywhere in here. It had too many distractions from the plot. It seemed more like a series of segments, rather than a whole movie, which is some what of a drag to endure. It had it moments and still had a dark theme with loads of action, I'll give it that much. The degenerate of it all is that it was different from the previous film in the franchise. If it was more careful on the plot, acting, and dialog, it would be a true masterpiece. It's just mediocre with entertaining activity, but no real clause. The visuals however, were very respectable to me. Hardly any CGI was used. Two-Face took up the biggest portion of it. The film didn't need any special effects to change any bit of it's appearance. It was more of a bonus. But if anyone is really big on the visuals in films, then see it in IMAX. It enhances the realism. Make sure to get a good seat or it'll ruin everything. At times, I actually felt like I was apart of it. It almost seemed like I was flying over Gotham when the camera had those eagle-eyed shots of Chicago, Hong Kong, and many other areas. So, the visuals were wonderful and get a round of applause from me. Overall, I was disappointed with this movie. Heath Ledger was the glue they kept this film from falling apart. So, if anyone plans on seeing this, just savor every second of screen time Ledger has. His final completed role was his masterpiece and was more worth while than the movie itself. Oscar for Heath, anyone?

- aSpaceCowboy, Wednesday, August 4, 2010

5 stars

Everybody knows about The Dark Knight. Absolutely everyone. The morbid curosity which surrounded the film as a result of Heath Ledger's passing was global. So the hype which surrounded Christopher Nolan's second chapter of the rebooted Batman franchise was unbelieveable. Good thing it was warranted then. From the opening scene, the opening shot, the opening note of Hanz Zimmer and James Newton Howard's incredible score, the very moment that the film begins, you know you're in for something good. What follows is 2 and a half hours of pure cinematic brilliance, with amazing set piece after aMAZing set piece, all the while interjected with character building side-steps and action escalating build-ups. This film will have you rooted to your seat from start to finish. You won't even notice the exhorbitant runtime. Christopher Nolan's direction in this film is masterful. Making full use of his incredible cast and their abilities as well as keeping you on the edge of your seat in the action sequences, he uses his IMAX cameras in groundbreaking form, shooting chase sequences, hesits, fights, everything, in crystal clear IMAX quality. He gives a sense of serenity to the chaos, doing away with the handheld camera feel which action movies tend to lean towards, utilising, instead, some incredible cinematography and inventiveness to capture beautifully long-held shots in places where you wouldn't expect to see beautifully long-held shots. He shows that as long as what you're watching on screen is as ridiculously awesome as it is in this film, you don't need to shake the camera from side to side constantly. This makes for much easier viewing. Instead of having to fight to see what's on the screen, you're basking in the awesomeness of the choreographed genius being played out on screen. The script is fantastic, a perfect balance between the over-stylised feel of a comic book and often-too-cryptic realism, creating a script which is both entertaining and definitely not superficial. The comedic moments are underplayed enough to not feel forced, as are the emotional moments, and unnecessary dialogue is trimmed to great avail. The script could have been twice as long and incredibly bulky, as comic book films often are. Instead, this script is endlessly quotable and a perfect place for the actors to find their characters. Speaking of characters, The Dark Knight dances its way through the usual troubles of a sequel without a step wrong, even including extra little flourishes for good measure. Batman keeps his character of incorruptibility, but instead of finding it in the first place like in its predecessor, this time its put to the test; stretching and straining him to breaking point and seeing the results. And the stretcher and strainer is none other than one of the greatest characters created in the last 20 years: The Joker. A ramping-up and supercharging of Tim Burton's Joker in '89, The Joker is, in his own words, "an unstoppable force." The moment he appears on the screen, you can see the crazy in his eyes, with an even deeper level lurking at the back. A true psychopath, he is vicious, cold, brutal, chilling and utterly likeable. No matter how bad he gets, no matter how many chills run up your spine, there is not a moment in the film when you truly don't like him. Maybe it's the hint of laughter in all of his craziness or the dark humour in everything he does, but it makes it difficult to root for Batman when there's such a fascinating opponent onscreen. As with all great films, the two characters are a perfect juxtaposition of each other; each with the same level of ambition, each with a mind to change the world, each with the same ability to influence people to their respective causes, but each one having chosen or being forced down a completely opposite path to one another. And this aspect is the most difficult for Batman to conquer; to, in essence, face himself. His bizarro-self maybe, but himself nonetheless. When these two titans clash onscreen, that's where stars are born. The acting is of a completely different, higher, standard than its predecessor, good as it was in the original. The inclusion of Ledger is a perfect casting choice, and the posthumous Oscar is proof of that, but it truly is a tour de force performance. He inhabits The Joker entirely, from his scarily dark undertones in his voice, muscular ticks, everything. It's an incredible character to be trusted with bringing to life and Ledger lives up to the task and even goes beyond. The rest of the cast are fantastic as well. Though nobody in the film measures up to Ledger's monumental role, they all pull their weight, Bale especially. He shows more sides to the often one-dimensional character and shows a depth which is lacking among a lot of the current Hollywood "talent." His previous amazing performances (see American Psycho) are enough to make any casting agent's jaw drop, but this one is especially notable. His softer moments are ironically the most hard-hitting. Not that he is any less convincing in action, but the raw talent and incredible skill shown in his moments of doubt should show the rest of the world how to really play a superhero. The rest of the cast, though they are not the main focus, really are great, with Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhall, Gary Oldman and Aaron Eckhart creating a thick web of talent. But this is the film worthy of this incredible cast list. A film which stays true to its superhero roots while, at the same time, redefining the entire genre. From the beautiful blue filter of nighttime, remeniscent of Michael Mann's 'Heat,' to the amazing work with the fantastic IMAX cameras, to set-piece after set-piece after set-piece, each more amazing than the last, and not least of all Ledger's incredible performance of an amazing character, The Dark Knight will spin you about and knock you for six every time you watch it. Heath, we hardly knew you. Rest in peace. Defining Scene: Batman and The Joker in a not quite conventional interrogation scene. Quotes: "Why so serious?" "Whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you... stranger." "You wanna know how I got these scars?" "Some men just want to watch the world burn." "And here... we... go." "I'm gonna make this pencil disappear." "And I though my jokes were bad." "So we'll hunt him because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight."

- TomBowler, Monday, July 12, 2010