Who?
Christian Bale (gravelly), Heath Ledger (licky), Aaron Eckhart (bacony), Morgan Freeman (weighty), Maggie Gyllenhaal (turtle-like), Michael Caine (Michael Caine)

What's it about?
With Gotham's streets thoroughly cleansed of crime, thanks to new District Attorney Harvey Dent, the Mob call a crisis meeting. How can they dispense with the Man In Black? The answer lies in a partnership with a cackling sadist, indifferent to money, power, even his own survival. Someone who just wants, in the words of Batman's butler Alfred (Caine), "to watch the world burn." The Joker…

What’s good about it?
What's good about it? Of course, it’s Heath Ledger garnering the critical plaudits – no doubt after accidentally launching the darkest movie marketing campaign in history. And his lip-smacking, Clockwork-Orangey terrorist jester should close the betting on a posthumous Oscar; being dead is tantamount to playing a disabled in the Academy's mind.

But it’s the action that kicks the proverbial ass. Joyously-crafted set-pieces whip past, bolstered by gadgets and prop vehicles deliberately built to actually work. (Except, er, possibly the Batbike driving up a wall). And Spielberg, Lucas, and the indeterminate Wachowski siblings should take note: it may be easier to blow up a hospital, or flip an 18-wheeler truck through 180º on a computer screen - but it only looks this cool when you do it for real. Watch and learn.

What’s bad about it?
It could easily, and probably should have been, two films. World-beating action sequences pile on top of each other, suffocating; weighty dialogue is clipped in the edit; the opening bank robbery could have been a film in its own right. The result is a breakneck, breathless pace where The Dark Knight’s central themes - of chance, and terrible 50/50 choices – are obscured, and significant events (the death of a key character, say) are underplayed in the rush. Put it this way: your girlfriend will lose track of what’s going on.

Verdict:
It almost, almost drowns under the sheer weight of invention, but you’ll be recalling set-pieces and little touches for weeks afterwards. Be under no illusion: with only minor caveats, this one rocks like a fucker.

Extras? The usual behind-the-scenes nerd appeasers, as well as documentary “Batman Unmasked” – a psychotherapist’s take on the tormented character of Bruce Wayne.

5/5