I went to see The Dark Knight this week and I can safely tell you to believe the hype. It is a great movie. Is it better than Batman Begins? That is debatable. I've always liked the start of tales (The Fellowship of the Ring was my favourite part of the LOTR trilogy) so I'm partial to BB, but the latest Batman movie is certainly worth the price of admission, some popcorn and a bottled water.
Heath Ledger is excellent as the Joker. He completely disappears in the role and is very compelling. Oscar worthy? I'm not so sure. For my money Aaron Eckhart is the star of the movie as Harvey Dent -- the "I believe in Harvey Dent" slogan seems tailor made to be reused for a supporting actor nomination bid. Interestingly, Batman himself is almost a secondary character in this movie as he keeps to the shadows. And that bring me to my only real complaint about TDK: It is very dark. Not in tone (which it is), but visually. A dark screen with your protagonist dressed all in black can make it difficult to see what is going on in the fast, jump cut fight scenes. Anyway, a minor complaint and I think the effect was probably intentional.
Oh yeah, and what was with all the 'dog' metaphors? Yes, the Joker is a 'dog let off his leash' but it seemed like overkill. Still, go see it. The Joker says Gotham deserves a better class of criminal and he's going to give it to them. Well, you deserve a better class of superhero movie and The Dark Knight gives it to you.