What I Liked:
- Heath Ledger's Joker wasn't nearly as cringe-worthy as I was afraid it would be. He seemed quite demented enough to be a Joker, and that was good. I liked the ever-changing story of his origin, his being an "agent of chaos", the constant double-crossing of the mob guys and the small bits of genuine enjoyment of what he was doing was fun.
- The continuity in storylines between the first and second movies. I didn't even remember Wayne Manor had been destroyed in "Batman Begins".
- Aaron Eckhart made a fantastic Harvey "Two-Face" Dent. Dent is probably my favorite Batman villain and it was a perfectly logical to see how he turned from crusading DA to bitter, avenging maniac. The CGI/makeup on his scarred face was perfectly chilling and better than I had hoped it would be.
- The explosion of the hospital in IMAX was maybe the most amazing effect I've seen on screen, both visually and audially. The audience actually applaud some after the explosion was over (I'm assuming for the effect, not the action)
- Gary Oldman as Lt./Commissioner Gordon was great, and exactly how he should be played. A conflicted, determined cop whose heart was in exactly the right place. He had a much bigger role than Gordon usually does in Batman stories which was deserved.
- Seeing Richard Alpert from Lost as the Mayor of Gotham City was a pleasant surprise. Wow, he does get around!
- I dig multiple, fake-out endings :)
- Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman was atrocious. An abomination. Easily the worst Batman performance since the guy from "Super Friends", and that's saying something. He was better in the first movie, but amazingly bland in this one. His deep-octave, menacing, brooding, rumbling, gravelly voice as Batman was half the time indecipherable and the other half just silly. The dialogue written for him didn't help, but that's just how Batman's supposed to talk. Bale did much better as Bruce Wayne, but I still think he's too young for the part. I found myself not missing Batman when he wasn't on the screen at all.
- Killing off Harvey "Two-Face" was criminal. Not only would he have made an amazing next-movie villain, his story was just beginning. He never had a chance to actually become a "villain," just a grief-stricken guy who went crazy for blaming those who were involved in Rachel's death and his disfigurement. Maybe I'll be lucky and he's not really dead, like Gordon was.
- Speaking of Gordon's death fake-out. Hmm. A little divided on this one. I'll give it a pass for now because it was a fun fake-out but ordinarily if a character's dead, he should stay dead. I don't feel that way about Harvey, though :) Faking out Gordon's wife and kids, though? Not cool.
- Screwing around with Two-Face's origin (and the Joker's, to a lesser degree). In the comics and original movies, Dent's face was scarred when a mob boss threw acid on him during a trial. Joker was "created" when he fell into a vat of acid. Neither stories are so anymore. It's not that big of a deal, but when you're a Batman fan and kind of expecting the courtroom acid throw to happen eventually you get out of the movie a little waiting for it to happen.
- Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are a little wasted as their characters. I've read reviews where they've been hailed for their performances, but I didn't feel they were given enough to do that couldn't have been done by anyone. Their performances were plot-driven and not character-driven.
- Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel did a very nice job so no complaint there - I just thought, up until a couple days before the movie opened, that she was actually Kirsten Dunst. The resemblance is remarkable, and it took me out of the movie a couple of times wondering why Spiderman's girlfriend was hitting on Batman and Harvey Dent. That's not the producer's fault and certainly not hers, but you'd think somebody would have noticed the resemblance and found another actress that looked more like Katie Holmes (who played Rachel in "Batman Begins")
- The mob guys were all pretty blatantly ethnic - the Italian guy, the Latino guy, the black guy, the Oriental guy... Just kind of odd in today's PC movie-making. It didn't really bother me, I just thought it a little strange.
- Ok, this really bugged me. Batman operates out of the BatCave, not the BatBasement. I know it was "being repaired" but that stark basement set was really, really bland and boring and a little claustrophobic for being that wide - I kept expecting them to hit their heads on the ceiling. Really, it couldn't have been worked out to move Batman back home sometime in the movie?
- The whole subplot with Lucius Fox's R&D department, the money moving around, the little weaselly guy who wants to reveal Batman's identity - didn't like it. Just too much in an already-bursting-with-plot movie.
- Talk about a cliche - "And here Mr. Wayne/Mr. Bond/Max we have the latest in crimefighting/spy equipment. It's a pen that doubles as a machine gun and cell phone, and also carries a lethal.... whooooooooosh - *CHUNK!!!!* (Ow!!!) - sir, perhaps you should read the owners manual first?" "Sorry about that, Chief..."
- Being that I work for a hospital system, seeing a hospital blown up was more disturbing than normal. That's fine, just saying my reaction to that particular choice. I also cringe when children actors are used in dangerous, tense situations like the standoff with Harvey, Gordon and his family at the end. Again, not a criticism per se, I just don't like to see kid characters in mortal, immediate danger. One of the (many, many, many.....) reasons I didn't like "War of the Worlds" last year.
While there are many more "Didn't Likes" than "Likes", they still pretty much balance out in quality. I enjoyed the movie for the most part - I'll give it a B-. For those that are thinking it's now the BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE EVER.... I just have to continue to point you here.