Great movie. Too long. But, for once, the length is needed and not much noticed by anything other than your bladder. It's essentially two stories, but the story arc covers both stories, so I can see how they didn't want to break it up into two shorter movies.
Hey, beyond that, it's everything they say it is.
Particularly Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker. Wow. It truly is an amazing performance. It would be nice to know how much was in the script and how much Ledger brought to it.
For instance, in American Pie, the speech patterns of the character Michelle - the sweetheart band nerd who ends up being the star in the sequels (played by Alyson Hannigan) - are actually in the script:
Oh! And then this one time? At band camp? I stuck a flute in my pussy.
The question marks are where she raises her voice at the end of every line, even though she's not asking questions.
However, the famous line she says while slapping her boyfriend during sex - "Say my name, bitch!" - was an ad-lib on her part.
Thus, one of the most distinctive aspects of her character was on the page, but one of the best parts of the performance came from the actress.
Wherever it comes from, Ledger's Joker is riveting and worth seeing the move for, alone.
Btw, I could be wrong, but I think the creative forces behind the film also put in a nudge, nudge, wink, wink in-joke for the theatrical audience. I don't know about you, but these days when I go to a major studio spectacle, especially a sci-fi or comic book flick, the volume of the surrounds can cause your coke to froth up and spray out the straw if you haven't taken a few precautionary sips. In one scene, Bruce Wayne is doing a ballistics test with a robot gun, which just BOOMS - the whole audience wobbles like they're foosball dummies during an intense game. Alfred says, "I don't think it's loud enough, sir." Ha ha.
For all the majesty, yet again there's no real need to catch this on the wide screen. I think directors have either been given the directive, or have simply unconsciously adapted to, the fact that most folks see their films on DVD, and direct for that aspect.
That said, you still probably don't want to wait that long to see it.