Take my word for it: you should see it at your earliest convenience. This is the movie my generation has been waiting for ((I hate that this sounds like an Obama slogan)) – it’s authentic in every way, not just to the source material but to humanity in general. Like the Bourne franchise and the revamped Bond films, The Dark Knight deals in storytelling, and nothing more. The inside jokes are gone, and while the setting and some of the action is fantastic, it’s not unbelievable.
It’s simply a sincere and serious movie. The loud explosions, incredible action sequences and visual imagery may hold your mind while you leave the theater, but there’s more to it than that. Gotham in The Dark Knight is a vision of America, one which is both stunning and unsurprising, and the story and characters do what film is supposed to do: serve as a mirror for what our society has become.
Every good word you’ve read is true, every bit of hype was honest: Heath Ledger’s performance was incredible.
Also: if you can see it in IMAX, you will not be disappointed. It’s an experience like nothing else.
Updated: There’s some minor spoilers (unless you’ve know Harvey Dent), but Wired has a great article on Nolan and the IMAX process.