FILM: The Dark Knight Prologue First Reactions

Posted: December 9, 2011 in Film
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The Dark Knight Rises prologue screened for select press in the Hollywood last night and the early reactions have already come through. The general impression is that the film will have a massive scale and scope to it, much like Inception. The point of the prologue appears to introduce Bane in a heist that’s similar to The Joker’s introduction in the previous movie. With the huge threat that faces Gotham, the prologue reveals the immense need for a savior, for Batman to return. The one overriding concern, however, is coming from Bane — the central villain. Played by Tom Hardy, early reviews say that his British accent and the muffles from the mask he wears makes it nearly impossible to understand what he’s saying. Here are a few reactions.

Superhero Hype:

Even though the opening shot takes place immediately after The Dark Knight and features Commissioner Gordon speaking at Harvey Dent’s funeral (and is shot in 35mm), the footage moves immediately to IMAX and the events that transpire during the hostage situation discussed in the viral documents. There, we’re treated to a hostage transfer and the reveal of Bane aboard a private plane and an ensuing fight that takes every advantage of the IMAX frame. 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).

At the conclusion of the footage, there’s a rapid montage of shots, all in IMAX, that feature a lot to excite fans, the most intriguing of which is Bane carrying a shattered half of Batman’s mask.


Nolan introduced tonight’s event, and he extolled the immersive virtues of the IMAX format before plunging us into footage – which starts in 35mm widescreen with Gordon eulogizing Harvey Dent. Then we’re being whisked across a field. And a few minutes later, aboard a plane, we hear Bane speak for the first time in a horrible, strangled tone. Tom Hardy’s Bane is a substantial, but strangely broken man. He’s a bruiser, but not exactly massive. He also struggles with his elocution, which may be intentional, butnevertheless resulted in lots of puzzled post-screening discussions. 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.

The footage concludes with a montage of shots that gives us a pretty good sense of what Batman is up against (and how Gotham City might tear itself apart). This is going to be a huge movie. No one gets to make a film on this kind of scale anymore. Except for Christopher Nolan. He’s brought a physical, David Lean-esque scale to the superhero genre. July can’t get here soon enough.

The Hollywood Reporter:

The sequence was grand in scope, expanding the Batman world outside of Gotham City, and it was filled with a lot of tension and dread. The impact was strong, not only from the images on screen but from the score, which was reminiscent of Nolan’s The Dark Knightand Inception. (In fact, the plane heist opening synchs thematically with the bank heist opening of The Dark Knight.)

The crowd, made up mostly of the entertainment press and such executives as DC’s Diane Nelson and Geoff Johns, left the screening definitely impressed. Some did point out one pickle, however: the sound. It may be early in the sound mixing process, but a lot of key dialogue, particularly that of Bane, who speaks via a mask, was unintelligible.

The prologue will be available for the public ahead of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol on IMAX.


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