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The Dark Knight

By Christopher Gildemeister


Release Date: July 18, 2008

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace

Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman

Recommended age: 16+

Overall PTC Traffic Light Rating: Red




Kissing, brief implied sex


Death depicted, murder, guns, knives, threats, explosions, terrorism, torture, beatings, car chases and crashes


“Godd***,” “Jesus,” “ass,” “damn,” “hell”


Torture performed by hero


Batman returns in The Dark Knight, a film demonstrating the moral compromises that heroes (and movies about heroes) make in today’s world. When Batman, Police Commissioner Gordon and “White Knight” District Attorney Harvey Dent bring down all of Gotham City’s crime kingpins, the mob bosses hire the psychotic Joker to eliminate Batman. The Joker kills numerous Gotham citizens and threatens to continue unless Batman reveals his identity and turns himself in to the police. Batman agrees, but Dent refuses to allow Gotham to lose its defender. But when the Joker captures Batman’s girlfriend and turns Dent into the villainous Two-Face, Batman shows him the true meaning of revenge…


Extreme violence is rampant in The Dark Knight. The movie opens with a bank robbery by the Joker’s henchmen – each one of whom has been ordered to brutally murder another, until only the Joker remains. The Joker consistently terrifies hostages with a knife: he holds it to their faces or eyes or places it in their mouths and threatens to disfigure their faces; impales one man’s face on a pencil; and plants a bomb in the stomach of one of his henchmen and sets it off. Batman’s battles with criminals alternate between extremely explicit beatings delivered by Batman, and Batman’s use of gadgetry, often including high explosives. Criminals, police and bystanders are sometimes injured or killed in these battles. The Joker murders various individuals and burns off half of Dent’s face; the grisly wounds exposing Dent’s eyeball and parts of his skull are repeatedly shown. The Joker’s terrorist schemes also include poisoning, crushing and burning individuals and blowing up hospitals. This is in addition to typical action-movie violence such as car chases and crashes, gunfights, explosions and other general mayhem.    


Behavior demonstrated by characters in the movie is also of concern. Far from being an upbeat, optimistic “superhero” movie, The Dark Knight features a “hero” nearly as dark as its villain. With Commissioner Gordon’s cooperation, Batman beats the incarcerated Joker for information, and also drops another criminal from a building, breaking his legs.


Compared to the film’s dark overtones and extreme violence, other content in The Dark Knight is of trifling concern. Sex is implied in one scene: Bruce Wayne enters a room during a party, as a man and woman hastily and nervously adjust their clothing. Bruce’s old flame Rachel exchanges kisses with both Bruce and Harvey. Profanity used includes a few uses of “godd***” and “Jesus,” and frequent uses of “ass,” “damn” and “hell.”


The Dark Knight is aptly named, with the movie focusing on darkness, violence and revenge almost to the exclusion of heroism. Because of its extremely dark overtones and graphic violence, parents are strongly cautioned that The Dark Knight is not recommended for viewers under age 16.


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