A lot of sequels simply suck it up and server more of the same in larger more expensive quantities, excess of this kind has sunk the hardiest of film series, think of the "Indiana Jones" canon if you doubt me.
And then occasionally, some sequels go deeper, harder, crazier even, here "The Bride of Frankenstein" can be enrolled with honor, also "The Dark Knight".
Oh don't get me wrong, the film has it's problems, the plotlines are too numerous, the script writers all decided for some inexplicable reason that The Joker's first outing HAD to occasion the creation of Batman's other nemesis, Two Face no matter how badly this marred the storyline...and as usual the film has something akin to three very shrill climaxes.
But...the acting is uniformly excellent thru out, nobody so much as winks at the camera once...nothing is held and not one false or smug note was sounded.
Everyone out there in cyberspace is going into ecstatic convulsions about the late Heath Ledger's performance (very much a bookend to Max Shreck in "Nosferatu" or Anthony Hopkins' as Hanninbal Lector) as the Joker...but let me just note that Aaron Eckhart comes within an ace of stealing the show as Harvey Dent (The future Two Face) and Gary Oldman's Police Chief James Gordon plays it as a worn flint of man...the grand batman freakshow has only just begun and already he is overwhelmed.
Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes the inevitable love interest is right in there throwing haymakers in a role previous phoned in my Katie Holmes.
The diff between the two performances is stark and simple, Gyllenhaal rides a beast called talent while Holmes has a cute show pony called "celebrity".
Alas and alack amidst all this stellar wattage, Christian Bale's Batman is merely fine in every respect, angry tough, stoical and full of coiled doubts as to the efficacy of his mission even as he goes on and on busting heads....hard to outdo the competition this time around.
It is indeed a violent and even nihilistic film DON'T bring the kids this is at last as dark and as brutal a Batman as the popular cinema can tolerate. There is no Robin, No Batgirl and only the faintest scintilla of hope.
Appropriately we saw it at the Tri Town Drive In, the biggest remaining outdoor screen in Massachusetts and for setting alone it was worth the $17 per carload price. We even managed to "part the clouds" so to speak and dodge a savage thunder storm just before the film started.