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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Extensive discussion of the rule of law versus the rule of force; police and political characters who work within the system are contrasted with the vigilante Batman. Political and police corruption are featured prominently in the plot. The thematic idea of order versus chaos also figures prominently in the film.
Positive Role Models
Batman is ostensibly the champion of justice, but his methods can get pretty iffy, and many characters wonder just how different he is from the "villains" he tracks down. The Joker is pure anarchy -- he embraces chaos for chaos' sake and doesn't flinch at hurting the innocent to accomplish his goals.
Violence & Scariness
Extensive, intense violence, including (but not limited to) shootings, stabbings, fistfights, explosions, rocket attacks, grenades, and more. A thug is slammed face-first onto a pencil that's stuck in a table; an underling has an explosive device sewn into his body and then detonated; a hallucinogenic "fear drug" is used as a weapon; dogs are unleashed on victims; a man is set ablaze; cars crash; characters are bound in rooms full of explosives; live grenades are placed in the hands and mouths of hostages; two boats full of passengers are threatened with bombs on-board; suicide bombs are used as threats; knives and guns are brandished. Several characters have extensive facial scarring, either from knives or fire.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing; someone walks in on a couple (standing up and fully dressed), and it's clear they've been fooling around; bikini-clad women are shown.
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Words used include "ass," "hell," "damn," "goddamn," "balls," "son of a bitch," and "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise. Minimal; the Lamborghini brand is mentioned, and Budweiser products are visible.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cocktail party scenes show adults drinking champagne, liquor, and beer, mostly in the background. Some scenes take place in bars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although The Dark Knight is an excellent movie, this sequel to Batman Begins is 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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Big, bold, and bruising, this is a prime example of how a high-budget, high-profile comic-book sequel can still be an actual movie -- well-made, exciting, invested, and engaging. Yes, it's going to sell tickets and toys, but credit has to go to director/co-writer Christopher Nolan for making a strong, rich film that gives audiences plenty to talk about and mull over even after the initial adrenaline rush wears off. Like the other filmmakers who've tackled Batman in the modern age, Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, Nolan has an obvious enthusiasm for the character; unlike Burton and Schumacher, Nolan also has an obvious respect for the character's history, grounding the costumes and action with real character development and focused storytelling.
The actors are all excellent, as well; Ledger's work as The Joker is earning Oscar buzz, and that's not just post-mortem sympathy talking. His swaggering, unhinged take on the character makes for an unsettling, compelling interpretation. As Dent (who, as comic-book fans know, eventually becomes the scarred villain Two-Face), Eckhart also delivers a strong performance that goes much deeper than the special-effects makeup he winds up wearing. Bale's performance is also terrific, whether he's portraying Batman's driven crime-fighting exploits or the quieter moments of Bruce Wayne's struggles behind the mask. Supporting players Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Maggie Gyllenhaal also deliver in their smaller roles. The Dark Knight is two and a half hours long, but it never meanders or wastes time; instead, it's packed to the brim with action, ideas, well-drawn character moments, and surprisingly effective drama.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.