First published on 17 Jul 2008. Updated on 19 Mar 2012.
Already being acclaimed as "the best superhero film ever made", "one of the best crime dramas in modern movie history", and "the best and scariest comic-book adaptation ever", The Dark Knight is also the last will and testament of The Joker, as played by Australian actor Heath Ledger, who died on January 22 this year.
Director Christopher Nolan, they say, has created a film that is completely original, raw, messed up and challenging with his latest excursion into Bat-Noir. Christian Bale's performance as Bruce Wayne has attracted acclaim, but "Oscar nomination" is what's being bandied about to accord full tribute to Ledger's effort.
"I can only speak superlatives of Ledger, who is mad-crazy-blazing brilliant as the Joker," says Rolling Stone's Peter Travers.
"Ledger takes the role to the shadows, where even what's comic is hardly a relief," says The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt.
Ledger's Joker "is much more obtuse and fiendish and truly in love with his chaotic impulses than Jack Nicholson's famous, distracting take," Nick Nunziata observes in Chud.com. "He truly makes you believe that for him the thrill of the game isn't the outcome but the ride there."
Ledger's Joker "has no gray - he's all rampaging id," concludes Travers. "The Joker's sadism is limitless, and the masochistic delight he takes in being punched and bloodied to a pulp would shame the Marquis de Sade."