Thoughts after seeing the six-minute Dark Knight Rises prologue!
Last night, Christopher Nolan brought together a handful of journalists and friends in New York City at the largest IMAX screen in North America to show off the much ballyhooed prologue for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. I was lucky enough to have been invited and....?
Prior to the footage, an impeccibly-scarfed Nolan calmly stepped before the audience to speak a little bit about what we were going to see. But, perhaps surprisingly, he spoke very little about the footage. As he explained it, what he was really excited about was the format. After shooting some sequences of THE DARK KNIGHT with IMAX cameras, Nolan was dedicated to using the 15 perf 65mm/70mm film even more for the film's follow-up. And as he did with THE DARK KNIGHT, Nolan wanted to give fans a sneak peek of what the format could bring to the final installment in his Batman trilogy.
After a few short words, Nolan stepped aside and let us soak up the opening six minutes of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. While he did specifically ask us to not reveal what happens in the scene, I don't think it's spoiling anything to mention, like the DARK KNIGHT prologue focused on The Joker, this DARK KNIGHT RISES prologue centers on Bane.
The scene is visually as impressive as you can imagine. With James Cameron making a big push for 3D, I hope Nolan continues to push for the IMAX format; an experience I far prefer to seeing something in 3D. I'd rather see more films even partially use the 70mm format than continue the unnecessary use of 3D. The only problem is the limited number of "true IMAX" theaters (the TDKR prologue is opening in only 100 theaters worldwide). But when a movie can look this good shot in IMAX, it's worth getting more filmmakers on board and Nolan is just the guy to push that agenda. When one of the biggest films of 2012 will have over 50-minutes of IMAX footage, it's time for the rest of Hollywood to join the fray.
What's particularly impressive is that Nolan has used the IMAX camera to shoot dialogue-heavy sequences, something traditionally not done because of the loud operating volume of the cameras. Nolan and his team had to ADR all the dialogue shot during these sequences, a cumbersome addition to the post-production schedule but absolutely worth it when you see the scope of the film. Speaking of dialogue and ADR...
Visual beauty aside, there is one problem with the footage and it's a big one: Bane's voice. As spoken by Tom Hardy behind the character's mask, his dialogue is almost entirely indecipherable. He has a significant amount of dialogue in this particular scene and I understood maybe five or six words he said. I caught something about "the fire rises" and "pain" and that was with much concentration.
This is not just me nitpicking. Bane's dialogue is a real problem and needs to be addressed. I've been told that the labored breathing and speech of Bane is very much a deliberate choice by Nolan and Hardy but that dramatic affect can be achieved without compromising the film and making an already complex plot more difficult to follow (as it was, it took a lot of post-footage contemplation just to figure out exactly what was going on).
After the six minutes, we were treated to a truncated look at the upcoming trailer, which will run before prints of SHERLOCK HOLMES: GAME OF SHADOWS (not sure yet when it will debut online). There's a lot to like in there including looks at all the major characters in action plus some impressive new additions to Batman's arsenal (OMG The Batwing).
I'm confident Nolan will address the Bane issue in post-production, either through ADR or perhaps even subtitles, and with that, save audiences a lot of trouble.
The prologue will be screening for fans across the United States, Canada and the UK tonight at 10:00pm. If you're one of the lucky ones who got into Operation Early Bird, leave your thoughts in the comments below!