‘Dark Knight' and Ledger are full of surprises

“The Dark Knight” – which opens Friday – has bombs; bullets; car chases with gigantic and loud crashes; brutal, sadistic murders; and a cast that sometimes appears as big as Gotham City.

But it is Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker that moviegoers will likely be talking about the most.

His scenes are plentiful, stoked with fiery, bizarre delivery and a snake's forever-moving tongue. He and his movie are full of surprises, too.

Seriously, one of his most effective lines is simply, “Hi.”

Some critics are already piling up praise for Ledger and the movie:

Richard Corliss of Time: “This Joker is simply one of the most twisted and mesmerizing creeps in movie history.”

Justin Chang of Variety: “Seriously brainy pop entertainment.”

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: “An epic that will leave you staggering from the theater.”

What did Observer movie critic Lawrence Toppman think of “The Dark Knight”? Read the CLT section in Friday's paper to find out.