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Overall Rating
4.43

Awesome68.49%
Worth A Look: 18.49%
Average: 5.88%
Pretty Bad: 2.1%
Total Crap: 5.04%

10 reviews, 178 user ratings


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Dark Knight, The
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by W. Scott Gordon

"More than an Ordinary Comic-book Movie, Less than a Masterpiece"
4 stars

Top-rate production values, a stellar cast, and a serious message about the chaos of our modern times are slightly weighed down by bloated plotting and exhausting pacing. Bale is again solid as Batman, and the late Heath Ledger gives a great penultimate star-turn as The Joker, whose rootless characterization fascinates but doesnít quite warrant an Oscar. Aaron Eckhart carries the day as Harvey Dent/Two-Face in a pathos-filled performance.

Contrary to its title (referring to the central characterís hero-as-vigilante status), the latest incarnation of the Batman franchise isnít really about Batman. It is, rather, a commentary on the consequences of having such a person aroundówould crime stop completely? Would people unabashedly embrace the bat, or would he be seen by many as just another kind of menace?

In Nolanís anarchic vision, Batmanís presence certainly inspires its share of admirers, mostly copycats whose dubious tactics get them killed or badly maimed because, as Batman himself points out, heís wearing more than shoulder-pads to soften the blow. It also gives Gothamís criminal elements, who have been ďbacked against the wall,Ē the impetus to dig further down into the inky well of evil than ever before, giving rise to The Joker (played with grim relish by the late, often great Heath Ledger). These gangsters are not particularly hard nuts to crack; their goals are money and power. When The Joker bursts upon the scene with a singular purposeóthe spread of chaos, money and power be damnedóthe souls of Batman and Gothamís citizenry are put to the test.

During a key monologue, the Joker explains the horrifying reality of what he represents. Planned acts of violence, including but not limited to war, are indeed terrifying; in the end, however, they fail to make much of an impression because they can be anticipated. But as he destroys city streets, buildings and lives, mostly through random explosions that echo real-life terrorist acts in our post-9/11 world, The Joker keeps everyone on a extremely tight leash that may be choked up, brutally, at any given moment. The Dark Knight is the story of what Batman and those around him will sacrifice in the quest to restore order.

Knightís relentless adherence to the sense of chaos of our times represents both its strongest and weakest point. The Joker says that the beauty of terrorism lies in peoplesí inability to anticipate it, yet every frame drips with the chilling knowledge that he shall return to wreak havoc. Gotham (and by extension, the movie audience) is never safe. But I think that terrorism and other acts of violence are terrifying not only because of their seemingly random nature, but because they happen during otherwise quiet moments in the course of normal lives tragically interrupted. Unfortunately, Nolan never slows down enough to show us ordinary Gothamites feeling truly out of danger, therefore selling his message short.

Pacing and plotting are also chaotic. The elegant Batman Begins can be divided into two distinct halves (Iíve always preferred the first, the point leading up to Bruce Wayneís donning of the famous cowl). Knight, in contrast, gives us one coherent arc amid a sometimes literal minefield of threads, the most needless of which involves some sort of money-laundering scheme by a corporation in Hong Kong. While the skyscraper sequences are breathtaking, and itís nice to see the bat flying outside of his cage every once in awhile, itís difficult to care about whatís happening. In its raw realism, unmarred by pretentious CGI, Chicago-as-Gotham is a more than adequate representation of our hopes and fears without a forced nod to The Rise of China.

As a rule, plot and location should be kept simple in these kinds of movies. Especially when the central message is conveyed so well by an intelligent script, brought to life by a cast of wonderful actors who, each in his or her own way, breathe life into ďthe darkness before the dawn.Ē As mentioned, Christian Baleís Bruce Wayne/Batman is not the central character here, and (to his enormous credit) never tries to be. A year after first becoming the Caped Crusader, Bats here grapples with the both the literal and symbolic meaning of his existence as an admittedly crazy force of order on one side, in contrast to The Jokerís insane chaotic bent on the other. Standing between them is Aaron Eckhartís Harvey Dent, Gothamís new District Attorney, who will become a perfectly-cleaved representation of good and evil, the Janus-faced tendencies that reside deep inside all of us. Christian Bale does his intense best as one point of this triangle, but heís overshadowed by two virtuoso performances.

And the throaty-voicebox has got to go. Realism is admirable, but when your source is a comic-book, you can take some liberties to ease the cheese. Inside a genre where a towering Christopher Reeve concealed his identity just by wearing glasses, and a short, balding Michael Keaton known better for Beetleguice conveyed his menace via one gruff glance from behind the Bat-mask, Christian Bale can afford to speak in his normal (albeit American-accented) voice as Batman. If nobody can see that the Bill Gates of Gotham is the only one who can possibly have such wonderful toys, then the secret is safe! Bale has a bit more fun as Wayne, but not enough; he smiles exactly two times in the film, not a great track-record for a multi-billionaire with a boatload of swimsuit models at his beck-and-call.

As Batmanís arch-nemesis, Heath Ledger makes an intriguing star-turn that, tragically, represents his penultimate performance. Critics who panned Jack Nicholsonís portrayal of the Joker in 1989ís Batman criticized it because it had too much Nicholson in it, that it was essentially The Shining in clown makeup. I personally found it to be brilliant, perfect in the context of Burtonís gothic but cheeky vision. Beware of baseless comparisons between these films and performances! That said, if Nicholsonís performance was indeed too Nicholsonesque, Heath Ledgerís take shows a haunting absence of anything linking the character to the actor himself. I havenít seen Brokeback Mountain yet, and I missed 10 Things I Hate About You because Iím not a tween-aged girl. But the affecting young police officer who conveyed so much pathos in Monsterís Ball, the naively robust son of Mel Gibson in The Patriot, and the square-jawed hero in The Brothers Grimm, while all very different, still came across as the recognizably talented Heath Ledger doing good work.

Ledgerís Joker is nothing short of a jack-o-lantern which, having been completely carved up and de-seeded of all humanity, now sits rotting on a stoop, an eerie candle-flicker barely discernable behind the black pools of its hollowed-out eyes. He is at once creepy, terrifying, and pathetic. He is also, truth be told, disturbingly funny. One scene, where he has not yet blown up a particular building to his satisfaction, is simply a gem. He presses the detonator again and again in childish frustration--as the charge finally works and we are witness to a final, devastating KA-BOOM, The Joker lopes out of the frame as giddy as a schoolboy. We donít want to laugh with him, but we canít help it. Whether The Joker is in manic motion on the streets or deadly still in a jail cell, all eyes are on him no matter the scene. Lack of a reliable back-story and discernable motivation fits the character, but itís impossible to care about him. I usually associate the phrase, ďOscar-winnerĒ with actors whose characters, no matter how thick their physical or mental masks, convey something from behind them. I am both dazzled and horrified by Heath Ledgerís madman, yet there may not be enough meat to the character to warrant an Oscar. Let the onslaught of flying tomatoes begin.

As a vehicle of pure anarchy, The Joker crashes straight through D.A. Harvey Dentís plans to clean up the city and, in an ironic twist, puts him on the road to the dark side. It is through Dent that we finally understand Nolanís moral crux: In uncertain times, even the best of us have the capacity to turn to evil. As Harvey Dent, Eckhartís complex mix of charm and smarm works beautifully; as the coin-flipping Two-Face, whose face and heart have been scarred forever, Eckhart portrays a man exactly half-unhinged. He knows the price of doing evil, but canít always afford to do good.

Because his role called for restraint over flamboyance, inner conflict over crazed villainy, Eckhart stands at the top of the Batman-Harvey-Joker triangle. I only wish that some of the more extraneous plot elements could have been shelved in favor of fleshing out Harveyís duality in a convincing fashion. His transformation is handled somewhat hastily in the last act, perhaps leaving some to wonder whether the character-arc was truly earned. Aaron Eckhart certainly gave a far better performance than Hayden Christensen did with a similar character study in Revenge of the Sith. The supporting players (Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman) comport themselves very well, although Maggie Gyllenhaal as underwritten love interest Rachel Dawes merely drives the plot toward its ambiguous climax.

In the end, it is not that the forces of evil have been vanquished so much as the playing field has been redrawn yet again. Batman proves his mettle, but he is not a hero in the eyes of those he seeks to protect. Can he be redeemed? Wait for the sequel.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17085&reviewer=406
originally posted: 08/21/08 22:27:08
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell AWESOME GRITTY EXCITING 5 stars
2/21/17 Dave One of the better superhero films out there, but I am not a huge fan of Nolan's direction 4 stars
4/27/16 Ken Amazing film. Heath Ledger was a great Joker, even though Jack Nicholson was great, too. 5 stars
3/14/16 Charles Tatum One of those films where everything absolutely works 5 stars
9/11/15 misterfilms my top 3 films of 00s: LOTR, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, THE NEW WORLD 3 stars
5/03/15 Cooler One of the greatest movies ever made 5 stars
3/02/15 mira storm all nolan's film is shit 1 stars
2/17/15 roxelena it waste my time and my money when i watched this film in theatre 2 stars
2/15/15 enicmatic al is this gay movie? YES 1 stars
2/14/15 jason gracio this movie are GAY! 2 stars
2/08/15 russel fuck you fanboy this is the most SHITTIEST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!!! 1 stars
1/08/15 vendoza overrated piece of shit in cinematic history 1 stars
1/06/15 brando i hate this crap! 1 stars
1/05/15 crovie i didn't like this movie 1 stars
6/18/14 Haley S. This was such a great movie. It's one of my favorites! 5 stars
3/24/14 Justin R. Mesmerizing! 5 stars
1/14/13 austin one of the best movies of the century 5 stars
10/11/12 austin wonderful 5 stars
9/19/12 Gabrielle Barnard The Best Superhero Movie. Dark, dramatic, intriguing, riveting...I could go on all day. 5 stars
9/07/12 austin fantastic 5 stars
8/29/12 Alex Figueroa Epic! 5 stars
8/09/12 Kcaj fuck yeah 5 stars
7/27/12 Amanda Smith Captured my attention. 5 stars
7/25/12 the truth yes 5 stars
6/20/12 Jordan Kentris Holy cow, this movie blew me away. Heath Ledgers performance was amazing. 5 stars
12/22/11 Isaac Simply the best comic book film ever made; it works on every level. 5 stars
12/15/11 cr Even if christian bale is not my fav batman, this movie and heath ledger perf. were soild. 3 stars
10/19/11 Magic An apocalyptic movie, Wagnerian in scope. The escalation in nihilism is exhilarating. 5 stars
5/26/11 Glenn Laurence Hardy Junior this movie is great. no question or doubt in my mind. friend me on facebook!mypic. is sonic 5 stars
4/27/11 the rock one of the best action crime films around 5 stars
3/10/11 bored mom The DC Comics equivalent of Chinatown? In the end, there is only madness and death. 5 stars
12/01/10 Barbara Leaf I cried every time I saw Heath Ledger, r.i.p.,but he was the best thing in the fillm 3 stars
2/06/10 Jessica Pretty long, Ledger was absolutely amazing though! 4 stars
1/24/10 MP Bartley Ledger is quite terrific. I'm not convinced the rest of the film is as good as he. 4 stars
1/20/10 Stanley Thai One of the best movies of 2008 and easily the best in the entire mythology. 5 stars
1/11/10 David Overlong and overblown. Not impressed with Bale, Ekhart or Gyllenhaal. 2 stars
7/03/09 Jonathan Birch Very Overrated. Boring, pales in comparison to other crime films it tries to imitate 3 stars
6/29/09 budo Poor performance by Ledger? He won by the greatest margin in Academy Award history. He was 5 stars
6/15/09 R Lan Simply the best of the Batman movies. A perfect marriage of a great script and great action 5 stars
6/09/09 freak awesome 5 stars
4/29/09 Dr.Lao One of the few things in this world that actually lives up to the hype 5 stars
4/10/09 Raul Valdez Jr POSSIBLY THE BEST MOVIE OF 2009 5 stars
4/09/09 Chris F such a poor performance by heath ledger not a patch on jack nicholson 1 stars
3/28/09 Dani O. Epic win. 5 stars
3/17/09 austin wertman best superhero movie ever 5 stars
2/24/09 man best superhero movie ever 5 stars
2/11/09 Stewart Sadistically violent with no moral purpose. Boring convoluted story and bad action scenes. 1 stars
2/03/09 Piz great adaptation of the comic book, but felt a little too rushed in the end. 4 stars
2/01/09 lo& Kinda overrated.I must be the only person alive that thinks 'Begins' was better than this. 4 stars
1/15/09 dude best movie of the year 5 stars
1/04/09 Lucy whoever gives this film a bad rating is crazy. 5 stars
1/03/09 FrankNFurter Gritty, chilling thriller--probably the first superhero Academy Award contender! 5 stars
12/30/08 Flounder This is a dark, morally complex crime drama - and one of the best I have ever seen at that 5 stars
12/29/08 the dork knight my only complaint is my mom didn't like it. :P 5 stars
12/19/08 Craig D. It's not The Godfather. It's not even the best movie of 2008. Get a hold of yourselves. 4 stars
12/11/08 Richard Remington Adam West is and always will be the best Batman,the rest are all clowns! 1 stars
12/11/08 K. Sear Surprisingly complex. 4 stars
12/11/08 Hope people are going far in saying "the best movie ever"but it is great and i saw it 2x =] 5 stars
12/06/08 Jared Robb Very epic film, casting was perfect. Excellent acting all around. 5 stars
12/01/08 killer feels epic this film 5 stars
11/27/08 little Red best movie ever. Heath Ledger was perfect as the joker. to bad hes dead 5 stars
11/26/08 Leo T very dark, but never lost the Batman 'feel'.... awesome 5 stars
11/20/08 Joker Fan one of the best films ever created 5 stars
11/16/08 killer one of the best crime films ever 5 stars
11/16/08 Meep Has it's moments certainly, and better than Begins, but still just ok 3 stars
11/12/08 Michael M Not perfect, but indeed a great film. And like all Nolan films, has an incredible ending. 4 stars
11/01/08 ldavies Could have used some editing. Ledger and Bale were fantastic. 4 stars
10/20/08 heath electrifyimg 5 stars
10/18/08 AshleyRockO The Best Superhero movie ever made. Period. The acting from everyone is impeccable. 5 stars
10/14/08 The Dork Knight A bit too much speechifying by the villains but otherwise good 4 stars
10/10/08 man best superhero movie ever 5 stars
10/10/08 dude best superhero movie ever 5 stars
10/06/08 jokera mindblowing 5 stars
10/01/08 Danny BEST...MOVIE...EVER!!! 5 stars
9/27/08 Ken It's not a great movie if at least one person in the world didn't like it 3 stars
9/17/08 joker face mindblowing cinema 5 stars
9/16/08 Brad The Joker is the best villian in the DC universe and Heath Ledger nailed the role 5 stars
9/16/08 Carla A. Amazing film, brilliant performances, intelligent script. What more could you ask for? 5 stars
9/15/08 g. AWESOME 5 stars
9/12/08 Joker's Younger Brother incredible movie....The Joker is the best villian EVER....!!! 5 stars
9/10/08 dark knight ledger is the new hannibal lecter 5 stars
9/06/08 Halad65 Amazing film. 5 stars
8/31/08 another one fucking kicks ass 5 stars
8/31/08 AnnieG Better than ĎBeginsí, although it could have ended much sooner. 4 stars
8/27/08 Quigley Amazing, brilliant, well-acted/directed, this film is unforgettable. Ledger was incredible 5 stars
8/23/08 pantera best film ever 5 stars
8/22/08 black_queen_marches Ledger's performance was the best i've ever seen, awesome movie, ending was anticlimatic 5 stars
8/22/08 Jen Minor flaws aside, the most earnest, thought-provoking and satiating movie in years. 5 stars
8/21/08 Christ An ok movie, but certainly not great. 3 stars
8/18/08 jonathantstorm mindblowing cinema 5 stars
8/17/08 Ricky This film honestly blew me away. The ending gave me chills. Top notch in every respect 5 stars
8/15/08 Allan Jackson not the great film that I had expected to see, but satisfactory. Michael Caine was good and 3 stars
8/15/08 Melissa Ledger was wonderful. If you get the opportunity you should see it at IMAX! 4 stars
8/15/08 Alice Heath Ledger was very very good as the psycho Joker.He is the reason I give 4 stars. 4 stars
8/14/08 jessica speechless! cristian bale and heath ledger were great! 5 stars
8/13/08 snakeeyes awesome 5 stars
8/12/08 RB The best of the Batman movies. Ledger, Oldman and Eckhart carry the movie though 4 stars
8/11/08 M Took it self a bit too seriously, but nonethe less great. Heath was perfect! 4 stars
8/09/08 JW Heavyhanded, confused storytelling. Good performances. Good explosions. 3 stars
8/09/08 Bnorm Freaking amazing. with out a doubt the best superhero movie ever made 5 stars
8/08/08 Tiffany Losco LOved it!! Heath was crazy lookin though. But he is a great actor. 5 stars
8/07/08 Ameisha It was long...but worth it! 4 stars
8/06/08 Paul Sweet, sweet brilliance. 5 stars
8/06/08 E K Zimmerman Am I the only one who loathed this garbage flick? 1 stars
8/05/08 Zim my favorite super hero movie 5 stars
8/03/08 Mark Glazer The Joker was the scariest ever. Great movie!!! 5 stars
8/03/08 J Smaltz Boreing, fell asleep somewhere in the final hour, never did see Ledger die or what ever 1 stars
8/02/08 R.W. Welch Chaotic actioner is carried by Ledger's inspired Joker characterization. B+ 4 stars
7/30/08 johnnybgoode Ledger was great. This film overall was well-done but a bit over-rated. 4 stars
7/30/08 zenny top-10 action movie, all-time 5 stars
7/28/08 austin wertman best superhero movie ever 5 stars
7/27/08 Samantha Pruitt too long, dragged a bit, the only good part was the Joker. 3 stars
7/27/08 Roland same old bat...boring..exept for heath ledger who actually carrys anoter ways tired pot 2 stars
7/27/08 christy this movie is thoughtful and incredible. best in '08. 5 stars
7/26/08 Ry Great film with a message! 5 stars
7/25/08 erick definitely, the best superheroes movie ever. heath ledger deserves the oscar. 5 stars
7/23/08 Albert Darmawan L Fantastic&Superior.The best Batman movie i`ve ever seen. 5 stars
7/23/08 Roy Smith This should be 6 Stars ------------> 5 stars
7/23/08 mr.mike First half rocked , 2nd half fell off 4 stars
7/23/08 The Talking Elbow TDK WAS flawed. Tried to fit too much into one film. Choppy editing. This made it boring. 4 stars
7/22/08 COUSINSEXx TDK is not your tweeny superhero flik but an epic crime saga in the realm of The Godfather2 5 stars
7/22/08 mike Ledger was freakin awesome. One of the best villains ever 5 stars
7/22/08 Luisa Heath Ledger is very disturbing, what a great performance. Movie is good but ran too long! 4 stars
7/22/08 Koitus Just - "wow." BUT - I checked the rating as I left; totally a border-line "R", IMHO. 5 stars
7/22/08 Heat1996 Good story, okay script, excellent acting, really good cinematography...Ledger, genius. 4 stars
7/21/08 ES It was good, but something was missing, i just didn't get absorbed into the story 4 stars
7/21/08 orpy Am I the only one who was bored, bored, bored? 3 stars
7/21/08 Simon Wow. What a loaded film, so many thoughts and themes to ponder.. THIS is why we love movies 5 stars
7/21/08 I Luv Heath Heath Ledger was so good in this movie, I couldent ask for a better joker than him 5 stars
7/21/08 Jiz Bale continues his ridiculous scowl, Eckhart hams it up, and Ledger/Nolan own the movie. 4 stars
7/21/08 Adi Wonderful! I loved it, every moment of it. Will probably go watch it agian in IMAX!!! 5 stars
7/21/08 Toni Awesome, best movie of the year by far. 5 stars
7/21/08 carlos G I wish 2face was held off til next film, but NO JOKE, give Ledger and Nolan their Oscars! 5 stars
7/21/08 james Aaron Eckhart steals the show 5 stars
7/21/08 Diana Kee Awesome movie. Far exceeded my expectations!!! 5 stars
7/21/08 Jonathan This is a deep great philosophical and action pact movie, you keep your eyes off of it! 5 stars
7/21/08 Ryan W Ledger lived up to the hype 5 stars
7/21/08 Adrian Want to see a magic trick? 5 stars
7/21/08 Pete K I agree; Batman and robin was more my cup of tea over this muddled in your face overly long 2 stars
7/21/08 Dan While Ledger's Joker was great, the rest was mediocre. Batman/ Wayne wasn't written well. 3 stars
7/20/08 Tripp Speechless. Beyond anything I expected..god help us all. 5 stars
7/20/08 Dave Yep...This is going in my top 10...ever! 5 stars
7/20/08 D Somehow exceeds the hype....simply put an incredible film 5 stars
7/20/08 Paul Levinson eons beyond any prior Batman ... infiniteregress.tv 5 stars
7/20/08 Obi Wan Absolutely amazing...Best SuperHero movie EVER! Joker/Ledger best Villian EVER!! 5 stars
7/20/08 jm I think ledgers performance is overrated. Sad but great ending. Batpod intro was brilliant. 5 stars
7/20/08 Phil B Truly Epic 5 stars
7/20/08 paulette This was a beautiful, well-acted, dark, intense film for 110 min, then long & gratuitous. 3 stars
7/20/08 Moose This is possibly one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. Heath was incredible. 5 stars
7/20/08 Darkstar I'm fucking speechless. 5 stars
7/20/08 Dimu Brilliant...just bloody Brilliant!!! 5 stars
7/20/08 Drew Simply Amazing 5 stars
7/20/08 Michael S T Simply amazing.. Actually the movie shies away from CGI in the action-heavy scenes. 5 stars
7/20/08 kimryan an amazing, scary, great story. You glory in Heath's performance and mourn at the same time 5 stars
7/20/08 twilightbringer Brilliant and brutal, The Dark Knight is now the defining event of our cinematic era. 5 stars
7/20/08 Gazza Jack Nicholson STILL personifies The Joker, ledger more hannibal lecter. 3 stars
7/19/08 Eugene True to it's comic book roots, excellent film. 5 stars
7/19/08 TyrantisTerror The polar opposite of Batman and Robin. A defining movie of our generation. 5 stars
7/19/08 Dab Great friggin movie. 5 stars
7/19/08 joker steals the show.very good but too damn long. damalc 4 stars
7/19/08 bullit16 Went in thinking, "it can't possibly be as amazing as the reviews say." I was dead wrong 5 stars
7/19/08 TheClown Ledger is vastly overated. Any hack with that makeup would have made a great joker! RIP 4 stars
7/19/08 Stacy It was just perfect. 5 stars
7/19/08 long johnson liked batman and robin better 1 stars
7/19/08 David V Believe the hype, this is absolutley a fantastic movie. 5 stars
7/19/08 Gerard Espiritu THE WORD "GREAT" IN OUR EXPECTATIONS OF THE MOVIE ARE SORELY INADEQUATE! 5 stars
7/19/08 larkin Good Lord 5 stars
7/19/08 Gary Simply Outstanding! Ledger is The Joker. 5 stars
7/19/08 KieranDraven Considering other countries hate us but want to live here, the movie was great! 5 stars
7/19/08 Matt Craven It can not be said enough - Ledger was one of the best villains in history. 5 stars
7/19/08 PAUL SHORTT NOT JUST A GREAT COMIC BOOK FILM, BUT A BRILLIANTLY CRAFTED, SOLID AND ENGROSSING THRILLER 5 stars
7/19/08 Flounder Saw it in IMAX last night. I was BLOWN away. One of the best films I have seen 5 stars
7/19/08 Shaun Wallner The Joker looks pretty wild in this film. 5 stars
7/19/08 Guy Smiley Considering Americans have the attention span of a peanut, I'm not surprised by the review. 5 stars
7/18/08 ben dover the best comic book film ever and yet so much more 5 stars
7/18/08 BrianWilly I cannot believe how good this movies was. 5 stars
7/18/08 tmcmistress Absolutely fantastic. 5 stars
7/18/08 alex r. not just a great comicbook movie--it is a great movie! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  18-Jul-2008 (PG-13)

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Australia
  18-Jul-2008




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