The Dark Knight

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Can a decent man stay decent in an indecent world? That's the question at the center of the Nolan brother's latest Batman pic, But before you jump to the 'oh boy, here we got another super hero movie', rest assure this is NOT just another super hero movie. In fact it isn't even just another Batman movie. "The Dark Knight" is an epic crime saga, the eternal battle between good and evil, cloaked in a high tech fabric cape!

Gayle and Vique talk about "The Dark Knight," "Mama Mia!" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

Like many of you, I grew up on . Not the comic book but the comic book TV series. It was high camp fun that my whole family adored. I mean really adored! We had the album. My Dad had some costume parts. How serious can you get?! But I was actually disappointed the first time Batman was reinvented for adults in the Michael Keaton version. Where was the camp? Well, I've grown up since then and boy has Batman, too!

When last we left our caped crusader in Lt. Gordon handed Batman the calling card of the latest criminal to terrorize Gotham: The Joker! The Dark Knight picks up right where Batman Begins left off, at a break neck pace!

There's no need to go into extensive plot suffice to say that this movie starts and ends with a bang-with a series of pops all along the way. The Joker is knocking off banks and criminals left and right, with the ultimate prize being the death of Batman. But our hero has more than this evil villain to deal with. Gotham's fine men in blue want Batman, too! As far as they are concerned he is a vigilante menace to society. And speaking of society, the general public wants a piece of the masked man, fearing that his antics put everyone in danger.

Everything about this tale is done to perfection. The action is stunning, with some scenes shot in IMAX to give it the absolute fullest effect. The story is engaging and detailed. And the acting is as positively stellar-from everyone.

Most of the cast from "Batman Begins" returns for round two. Michael Caine reprises his role of the butler on steroids, Alfred, Morgan Freeman is the head of Wayne Enterprises as Fox and the incomparable Gary Oldman is Lt. Gordon. At the center of the action is the impressive and intense Christian Bale as our hero.

New this time around is Maggie Gyllenhaal as Bruce Wayne's squeeze Rachel Dawes, replacing Katie Holmes. And Aaron Eckhart does an outstanding job as Harvey Dent, fighting crime in the bright lights while Batman works his magic in the shadows.

But all the buzz keeps coming back to and his astounding performance as The Joker. And rightfully so. Forget all that crap you heard when he died of a drug overdose. If he was indeed a tortured soul it wasn't over his ' getting too deep' into his part. Ledger tears up every scene with the gusto and passion that only someone who truly loves acting can do. Make no mistake he is having a ball being the ultimate psychopath. He is scary, twitchy, bewitching and yes, funny. I won't go as far as to say he IS the movie because everything and everyone is far too perfect for such an insult.

But the whole thing is very sad, heartbreaking really. To think that such a wonderful talent has left us at what is really a tender age. He leaves a legacy and a performance that will go down as legendary. I pity the next person that takes on this role as someday someone surely will.

I didn't see the first installment "Batman Begins" until after I had seen TDK. So if you haven't seen the first movie yet, don't be discouraged from seeing "The Dark Knight" on the big screen while you can. It didn't ruin my experience and it won't ruin yours.

The movie will probably earn Ledger not only an Academy Award nomination but the award itself. In fact the movie itself has a good shot at the Oscar, too. Yes, it's that good. But as I said before, Batman has grown up and this intense version might be too much for little ones. It was almost too much for me! After nearly 3 hours of non-stop stress I was a limp noodle when I left "The Dark Knight" and ventured into the bright of a summer's day.

"The Dark Knight" swoops in with 5 Red Vines for being an epic of heroism.

LADIES ROOM LOWDOWN: I took my brother to see this movie with me. As I told you, Batman is a family affair for us. He is what I would call a 'fanboy' and he absolutely loved it. We could not help but make comparisons with Ledger's Joker and Nicholson's. While there's no question Nicholson rules, we both agreed that Ledger's Joker made Nicholson's look like Cesar Romero's!! (Sorry Cesar. But you still hold a special place in our hearts as our first Joker. And the finest for your time!)