I was perusing the interwebs, as I often do, and came upon a promotion by Gofobo to see early (and free!) screenings of The Dark Knight Rises – Prologue, which is basically a glorified 6-minute trailer for next summer’s blockbuster movie event. The screening was held in several theaters around the United States, thankfully on real IMAX screens (in case you haven’t kept up to date, there are fake IMAX theaters out there. Beware!). All of the footage shown was true IMAX, in a screen so big it made me question my significance on earth.
I must admit, I wasn’t too thrilled with the previous two iterations of director Christopher Nolan’s bat movies. Not that they were bad films, but I thought they were slightly over-praised. An admittedly strong point in the previous film is Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, which, even if I felt (and feel) that it was somewhat overrated, still stands above most performances given these days, particularly in films involving “superheroes.”
After watching the prologue, I am confident that Nolan has pulled off another great performance by Tom Hardy as the new villain, Bane. The action sequence begins with a man who is searching for information on Bane. Three hostages are brought to him with their heads covered and taken on a plane for further questioning. The scenery shows the plane flying next to a mountain, and that instantaneously tells me that this movie must be watched on true IMAX. Not those wimpy new IMAX screens, but the full-on, makes-me-feel-like-dirt, enormously delicious screens that may or may not be at a theater near you (sorry to you folks that may never get a chance to experience this).
The action sequence moves quickly. The interrogator threatens to throw the hostages out one by one if they do not give him information on Bane. After a bit, Bane’s voice is heard. It is distorted and nearly unintelligible. He happens to be one of the hostages that had a black bag over his head. The sequence then picks up in pace. It involves another plane and men repelling from that plane, and somehow, by the end of the sequence… oh no, I don’t really want to give it away that easy. I’ll just say it is quite overwhelming.
Some folks who have seen the prologue have complained about Bane’s voice. Mind you, I was not a fan of the digital distortion that was used for Batman’s own voice in the previous iteration. However, even though roughly half of the things spoken by Bane were unintelligible to me, it did not seem to bother me much. If anything, it added to the character’s persona, in such a way that he could very well match (or at least compete with) Ledger’s performance. It’s certainly way too early to tell, but I think Nolan choice for Bane is solid. He must have liked Hardy’s work in last year’s Inception. (He’s also brought over one of my favorite young actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.)
After the action sequence, the prologue ends with quick cuts of the rest of the film, showing a few more scenes (all in full IMAX) of fight scenes, explosions, mobs, and Catwoman herself. It ends with Bane throwing Batman’s broken mask on the floor as he walks away.
This will be a strong entry into the bat universe, and Nolan will continue to surprise and delight. I’m confident of that. As to Bane’s voice, there’s still time to fix some of the rougher elements through ADR if necessary. You can read a bit more about that (non)-controversy on Josh Wigler’s blogpost on MTV.com. And as for now, it’s a long wait till summer of 2012.