To describe this film in one word is easy: wow.
This film is big, it's loud, it's harsh, but it's also reflective, deep and twisted. Featuring a plethora of heroes as conflicted as its villains, the film is as complex as it is visually entertaining.
This is block-busting cinema at it's finest. Every face punched, engine revved and building blown up is as exciting as the last, but the film is dark. It's incredibly violent, made even more unnerving by its lack of explicitness. The film has no happy ending - the Joker really does win, as we see our heroes become more and more engulfed by shadow.
And so, the Joker. A role that has drawn so much attention following the untimely death of Heath Ledger, and what a role it is. By far the powerhouse of the film, Ledger's performance is so massive, so immense, that it's easy to see how it would have become all-consuming. Every inch of him is the Joker - he twitches, he blinks, he pokes out his tongue in an absolute embodiment of a highly disturbing, yet highly attractive, character.
But to sing the highest of high praises for Ledger is not to detract from the rest of the cast. Christian Bale and Aaron Eckhart provide fantastic foils for Ledger. Christian Bale utterly owns the roles of Bruce Wayne and of Batman, wonderfully portraying the conflict that drives the film. Equally Eckhart, as District Attorney Harvey Dent, provides an equally effective hero as he does, later, villain.
Nolan's vision of Gotham city is a wonder to behold. While less grimy than in Batman Begins, it somehow feels scarier. The film's more intimate scenes are handled with as much talent and creative flair as the visually stunning action sequences. Pile on top of this a superb score by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard and this film nears perfection.
It's not perfect, though. It does feel somewhat meandering - there are lots of twists and plot threads that don't appear to tie together, but this, fortunately, does not make the film any less coherant.
Next week, I'll be seeing this film on an IMAX screen. Considering how big this film feels on a regular screen, I'm preparing myself to be truly blown away.