Last night The Dark Knight Rises prologue was screened for critics in Gotham (aka New York City), and while we've rounded up other reactions out of Los Angeles, ours is the most important, obviously. Okay, not really, but we can pretend that it is.
The 7-or-so-minute prologue is apparently the opening of the film and an introduction of the film's villain, much in the same way The Dark Knight opened on a bank heist scene introducing Heath Ledger's Joker. Except this action sequence is bigger, louder and meaner than the bank heist -- accurately reflecting the kind of villain Bane (Tom Hardy) truly is.
Many critics are instantly comparing the two opening sequences, giving The Dark Knight favor over Rises, though it's hard to do that because a) we don't have more context for Rises, and b) the Joker and Bane are completely different villains. The Joker deserves an entrance that's tricky and funny and layered, like a riddle. Bane's entrance is explosive and over-the-top, just like the character. For a minute you'll think you're watching a Mission Impossible film -- which makes Ghost Protocol the perfect movie to screen this prologue in front of -- until you realize that, nope, this is Batman's latest nemesis and he's out of his f**king mind.
The biggest problem with what really is a fantastic action sequence is the fact that we unfortunately cannot understand more than three words Bane is saying. Like, really can't understand him -- to the point where many critics questioned the projection, or that this wasn't a final mix. This is an issue that has to be corrected, either with subtitles or re-recording audio, because it will hurt the film considerably. Bane's is a voice that won't grow on us -- it's not like after watching him for 10 more minutes, we'd understand his garbled tone. This isn't Attack the Block.
This is a serious problem that takes away from what truly is a spectacular opening scene. Are we scared of Bane after watching it? Definitely. But we'd be more scared of him if we actually understood him. Not only does this scene play like gangbusters, but it also includes a few pieces of meaty plot exposition that audiences will need to pay attention to because things will be paid off later on. And it's hard to pay attention to plot when we're asking the person next to us what the hell it is Bane is saying. (Note: Nolan did tell THR that "additional sound work" should help to clear up some of those issues.)
Right off the bat we see that Bane will be unlike any other villain Batman has faced yet. This guy is tough and ballsy and insane. He's brutal to the bone; by far a worthy adversary for the Batman. Plus, when you watch this thing on a true 70mm IMAX screen, the film swallows you whole. We watched this scene on the largest IMAX screen in North America, and it was an absolute blast of a moviegoing experience. Nolan was in attendance more for the IMAX presentation than the movie itself, and we can see why he's so excited about it.
The Dark Knight Rises has doubled the amount of IMAX footage from The Dark Knight, and that's really what will make this a must-see summer blockbuster. In an age where our movies are being delivered on tablets and cell phones and the box office is suffering because people just don't care much about going to the movies anymore, it's an experience like The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX that will change your mind.
The Dark Knight Rises prologue will screen in front of select Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol IMAX screenings beginning this week. Head over here for a full rundown on where you can catch it in your neck of the woods. Now to start counting down the seconds till the film hits theaters on July 20th.