After experiencing an influx of big budget blockbuster movie madness this year (particularly of the comic-book based genre), it’s nice to finally see a superhero movie that exceeds the stock-standard formula that we have come to expect. I am indeed speaking of The Dark Knight.

We must take care not to reveal too much. The Dark Knight is the sequel to the hugely successful Batman Begins. The caped crusader (Christian Bale) makes a triumphant return as he attempts to fight the corruption riddled Gotham city. Armed with the skills of ninja, and an exemplary array of gadgets, it seemed that our favourite multi-millionaire vigilante was unstoppable … until now.

The word anarchy brings on a whole new meaning as the Joker steps on to the scene. He is a man who has no morals, no rules and nothing to lose. He likes to think of himself as “a dog chasing a car, I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught it!”.

Regardless of all the hype surrounding the late Heath Ledger, his performance is unforgettable. The subtle nuances, the slight slur in his speech and the way he saunters about, like a child in a toy store, is incredibly chilling and a treat to behold. Fans of Jack Nicholson’s original Joker will not be disappointed, nor under whelmed.

The old favourites of Batman Begins return in The Dark Knight. Michael Caine is the father-like Alfred Pennyworth, Morgan Freeman as the witty weapons specialist Lucius Fox, and Gary Oldman as the courageous Lieutenant James Gordon. Along for the ride this time comes Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent (fans of the comic would know him as Two Face) and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes.

Staying true to the previous installment, Katie Holmes was originally intended to reprise her role as Rachel Dawes but was unable to make the contract requirements due to “scheduling conflicts.” Well there’s a pregnancy and a half.

From a visual standpoint, The Dark Knight delivers an unprecedented experience. Six sequences have been shot with IMAX technology, a revolutionary integration of the two film formats.

The film itself has all the elements you would expect from a sequel of Batman Begins. There are breathtaking stunts, subtle yet effective special effects and some terrific fight scenes all bound together by an engaging plot. Fans of the comic and cartoon series will smile as they notice various references to the Batman of old.

That said, punters who haven’t seen Batman Begins will still get a kick out of The Dark Knight. There’s truly something here for everyone.

Crikey rating: 4 out of 5