It's amazing how in tune most movie geek bloggers are with responses to advance peeks at highly anticipated films. Today's Conversation consists of reactions to the prologue of The Dark Knight Rises, most of which seem to be slightly reworded copies of each other. Sure, a few people have additional insight, one person completely slams the footage and everyone is apparently in disagreement about what entails "play-by-play" details, which are forbidden by Warner Bros (the very first site I read, The Daily Mail, has what I'd consider a pretty full account), but basically if you've read one report you've read them all.
The gist of the consensus is that the first six minutes of TDKR is spectacular, must be seen in IMAX, is more like James Bond than Batman, isn't as good as the opening of The Dark Knight and -- the most glaring point of all -- Bane is frustratingly difficult to comprehend through his muffled Darth Vader-like speech impairment. Many expect or hope that Nolan will fix the issue before the film's release next summer, but the version going out to cinemas next week to screen ahead of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is probably the same.
Then again, Nolan appears to be satisfied with the mix as is, claiming that Bane isn't supposed to be entirely audible and hints that repeat viewings will be necessary to piece together all his dialogue (ah, so it's just a ploy to get us to pay more!).
What are people saying about the Dark Knight Rises prologue? Here's The Conversation heard around the blogosphere and Twitter:
A spectacular bigscreen sequence built around practical stunt work and some amazing camerawork, and my first impression of the whole thing is that I don't really recognize the Bane that Nolan has created for this film, and I like that. I like that he's taken this comic character which I've always seen as somewhat ridiculous and, in less than ten minutes, turned him into something between a cult leader and a crime lord, a figure of real terror. [...] I will say that the mix on the sequence we saw tonight could use some tweaking because while I believe Nolan's goal is to make it hard to understand everything Bane says, it really felt like I only picked up about 10% of what he said. - Drew McWeeny, Motion [Captured] (HitFix)
The star of the sequence is not Hardy, or Nolan, but the IMAX format. It is clear after seeing this sequence that The Dark Knight Rises is a must see in 70mm IMAX. I can’t even imagine watching the film in digital or 35mm, missing out on much of the epic scope. [...] And while the Rises prologue might not beat the one in The Dark Knight, that might just be a matter of Heath Ledger’s gunshot explosive performance. - Peter Sciretta, /Film
It's a bit incomprehensible. It makes little sense out of context. The actors surrounding Bane seem cheap in an '80s TV show kind of way. And it has a slight odor of Spider-Man 3 stench hanging off of it. Which is to say, it's actually pretty good. But it's inevitable. Fans are no doubt expecting more. They will be disappointed. I was expecting more. This is good stuff, but is it good enough? [...] Bane couldn't be any more different from The Joker if he tried. He isn't charismatic. So far, he isn't likeable. And worst of all, you can't understand anything he is saying. Trust me, he has huge chunks of dialogue in just this short stretch. And its almost all unintelligible. - Alan Orange, MovieWeb
Fucking awesome [...] your jaw will hit the ground a few times while watching the footage [...] While Bane was a mighty presence on screen, the same cannot be said for his voice, which I struggled to understand at certain points in the film. It remains to be seen if this was the final version of his voice or if it’s still a work in progress. I asked producer Charles Roven about the voice and he wouldn’t say if it’s the final mix or still a work in progress. - Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub, Collider
Holy shit, does it look unbelievably awesome. [...] My only complaint has to do with his voice, I couldn't understand some of what Bane was saying, it seemed mixed wrong, but either that's part of it or just the first pass. Besides that though, I loved it, every second, and I'm about ready to get back into full-on TDKR hype mode all the way until next July. - Alex Billington, First Showing
Aside from a slight audio issue (it is a bit of a challenge to make out the dialogue with the obstruction of the mask) that will likely be adjusted by the time of the film’s release, Bane is by all indications a villain worthy of the final installation of this franchise. Tom Hardy is able to electrify a frame with his very presence, his every movement fills the viewer with tension and a chilling sense that no one (not even him) knows what he may do next. He is simply terrifying to watch. - Roth Cornet, Screen Rant
Unlike anything I think I’ve seen in its go-for-broke ambition [...] prepare to scratch your head at much of Bane’s dialogue, which had most everyone in Thursday’s screening asking each other how much, if anything, they could understand. - Adam B. Vary, Entertainment Weekly
A stunningly complex, practically-staged action sequence [...] Honestly, I caught probably half of Bane's dialogue, and every colleague I spoke with had similar difficulty understanding him. I hate to cause problems for Nolan at this stage of the filmmaking process, but if Bane sounds like this throughout the film, it could be an issue. - Beaks, Ain't It Cool News
A bravura set piece involving something that’s never depicted on the big screen before [...] the sheer weirdness of the spectacle is much closer in scope to Nolan’s Inception than any of the polished CGI mayhem you’d see the recent Iron-Man or X-Men movies [...] between [Bane's] labored breathing and quasi-English accent, he was impossible to understand. - Chris Lee, The Daily Beast
Can we sum the footage up in a word? No. A sound? “Woooargh!” [...] comes off like a cross between a Bond movie and everything we’ve come to love about Nolan’s Bat-universe. - James White, Empire
A pulse-pounding caper worthy of a James Bond movie and it makes razzle-dazzle use of the giant-screen format, as one’s eyes boggle and one’s stomach drops out, given the height, depth and scope of the imagery beneath the aircraft and the deft camera work inside, all the more impressive given the unwieldy logistics of using the oversized IMAX camera [...] [Bane's] voice behind the mask is metallic and muffled; another cause for concern.- Amy Dawes, Thompson on Hollywood
Think less The Dark Knight and more Inception or, even closer, an IMAX version of a James Bond film. [...] Though the response from the crowd was overwhelmingly positive, there was much discussion about Bane's voice. Muffled by his mask and featuring a British accent, it's difficult to fully understand exactly what he is saying (but likely intentionally). - Silas Lesnick, Superhero Hype
An aerial action sequence that could only be more Bond-like if it ended with a Carly Simon song playing over the opening credits. [...] Hardy's Bane voice sounded distinct and cool, but again it's pretty important that we hear exactly what he's saying! Here's hoping they dub Hardy's voice to a higher decibel level in post so that nothing's left to chance. - Jim Vejvoda, IGN
What will be immediately memorable about The Dark Knight Rises' Bane is his voice. Hardy gives the villain a distinctly weird vocalization that's made more distracting by the fact that he's speaking through a mask that covers the majority of his face. Hardy's sinister characterization shines through, but it was difficult to understand some of Bane's dialogue in this sequence. It seems likely that there will be many parody videos forthcoming. - Andy Khouri, Comics Alliance
A lot of key dialogue, particularly that of Bane, who speaks via a mask, was unintelligible. [...]When Heat Vision asked Nolan at the post-preview reception about the perceived problem, the director admitted that because of Hardy's accent and because viewers can't see his lips, there may be problems in hearing the dialogue (though he did say additional sound work would clear some of it up). And he admitted that sometimes in his movies a viewer may not grasp all the lines. - Borys Kit, Heat Vision (THR)
@eliroth: I just saw the most incredible #DarkNightRises footage in IMAX. Mind blown.
@Jon_Favreau: Do what you can to see the IMAX film version of the Batman preview when it comes out on MI4. Trust me. #nolan #hardy
@edgarwright: It was amazing.
@geoffjohns: Bane is AWESOME.
@DavidPoland: Dark Knight Rises 6 minute opening in IMAX shows you yet another Nolan moment never before put on film. Boo-yah. (but could use subtitles)
@TheInSneider: Just saw The Dark Knight Rises prologue. It was great but main criticism will be that it's tough to understand Bane through the mask...
Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.