The Dark Knight Rises Prologue Review - An Appeal to the TDKR Team *Major Spoilers!!*
Warning: Major Spoilers, Bad Language and Dick Twiddling to all who dare hit the jump..
Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to Warner Brothers and Chris Nolan for allowing myself to view the prologue. Even though I managed to lose my printout the folks at the theater were most gracious in seeing that I was admitted in any case and were interested in our responses to the screening. As a way of repaying such courtesy I've decided to post a write up all of my responses to the prologue.
Now before I get started let me just say one thing:
We Love Our Arrogant Son of a Bitch!
That having been said I will now attempt to summarize the prologue and what I liked and didn't about it. First we see Commissioner Gordon giving his eulogy to Harvey Dent in which he expresses his admiration for Dent as well as his doubts that they will encounter anyone to inspire them as much anytime soon. Next the movie cuts to the opening set piece. For those of us that were part of the viral marketing campaign this represents the CIA's Operation Early Bird attempt to extract Russian nuclear scientist Dr Leonid Pavel from the clutches of a Russian militia and bring him to the US. For those who ain't had This aspect of the plot spoiled yet, it is highly likely that Dr Pavel is the creator of 'the device' with which Bane holds Gotham City hostage. So the CIA proceeds to get him on a private jet along with some members of the militia who were captured in the struggle who can be coerced into providing information. They are all hooded. While in flight CIA guy begins to interrogate them (rather than waiting to get them to Guantanimo or wherever) by opening the plane door and having one of his subordinates hold a gun to their head before threatening to make them walk home. He asks them about Bane's whereabouts while as every motherless fanboy already knows one of them Is in fact Bane. My own opinion would be to have them ask about the location of the HQ of the League of Shadows or Ra's al Ghul instead so that they don't end up looking like such a bunch of dolts.
Personally, I just didn't feel as intimidated by the CIA officer in charge as I should've been. He seemed a little too much like some desk jockey analyst and not enough of the cowboy/operations division, mercenary-with-a-paycheck type that this mission required. This might be a bias because that is how he looked wearing glasses. What we should see is not some smooth Theodore Shackley type CIA beaureacrat but some asshole like Frank Terpil who enjoys watching rats eat through peoples stomachs. Next time, don't send a special agent in charge of a black op to confront Bane that wears glasses. I know that is an asenine and retarded thing to say but this dude didn't seem tough enough for the job.
Once Bane is revealed he doesn't tell Mr CIA what he wants to hear but instead tells him that allowing himself and Dr Pavel to get captured was necessary in order to find out what Dr Pavel had told them and what they knew..
This doesn't make much sense. If the League of Shadows wanted to find out what Dr Pavel told the CIA why didn't they just capture him and administer one of Dr Crane's compounds instead? We already know from Batman Begins how exquisitely effective they are in loosening the tongue. This would be far less risky than allowing Bane & Pavell to be captured and having to go through all this stuff to get him back. They should edit the dialog so that Bane does Not say this. Otherwise it makes all this seem like a big waste of time..
hurrrrrrrr..... In any case, while the fun is going on a LoS C147 transport plane manages to fly up over the CIA plane from behind and drop 4 grapplers onto the CIA plane who begin firing into the plane and attach cables to the plane so that the C147 literally takes posession of the CIA plane. This is done in a visually stunning and convincing manner. One might quibble as to whether the windows should be bulletproof but, in any case they then grapple up to the front of the plane (which is now vertical) and proceed to blow the front of the plane off (also beautifully depicted) and then attach cables to Bane and Dr Pavel while blowing the others and allowing the CIA plane fall away. The final shot is meant to remind the audience of Bruce Wayne's kidnapping of Mr Lau from Hong Kong as the transport carries Bane and Dr Pavel away still suspended via cable.
Visually, the sequence is stunning to watch. Nolan was right, the Scottish highlands add a truly epic backdrop to the sequence of events described above. Everything seems as if it was staged on location, no lame cgi although you gotta figure that's how they managed the part where they drop the plane. All in all, do Not think Batman, think James Bond instead. This is like a good opening set piece to a Bond film. Likewise, when thinking about the character of Bane as presented here don't think the massive Bane from the comics. The Bane presented here is Not that Bane. Instead, think 'super terrorist.' That's who the Bane presented in this prologue is, more of a Bond villain than a villain from the Batman comic books. Does this interpretation of the character work well in this context? The answer is yes, visually.. Christopher Nolan tends to shoot him close up and in such a way that Tom Hardy's lack of height is not a factor. Now here comes the real problem with the prologue and this wasn't just my response but the response of those leaving the theater around me after the showing that I attended. People simply could not understand what Bane was saying.
Now it is essential that people completely understand what Bane is saying because of both the complexity of the plot along with the fact that we are being thrown right into the middle of things at the outset as Chris Nolan likes to do with his audience and have to get up to speed quickly. If Bane cannot be clearly understood the audience falls behind and can lose interest in the movie as if it were a second semester class on compilers.
The main problam is how his speech is muffled by his mask. However, as this sequence was shot in IMAX and because of how the large IMAX cameras make noise it would seem that the dialogue that we hear must already have been added in post-production. If this is indeed the case I can only say this: either get back to the recording studio and refine Bane's speech until he's articulate enough to be understood at the pace that the story moves or wait for the inevitable parodies 8 months from now: a gravely throated Batman and a squeaky, inarticulate Bane trading inaudible dialog. Even if they made him sound exactly like Darth Vader it would still be a better choice regardless of the inevitable comparisons. At least people can understand Vader when he's talking.
And while we're on the subject of people going out of their way to avoid comparisons, we've heard the stories of how actress Anne Hathaway has had to live on nothing but kale and dust (whatever 'dust' is) in order to fit into her Catwoman costume. Ryan Reynolds just went around wearing a motion capture bodysuit that would be CGI'd anyway while Anne Hathaway has to starve herself to fit into a suit. Forgetting the fact that Green Lantern wasn't any good I still have to ask the question: Why was this necessary? It is Essential to the success of this movie that Bane be understood. That is truly an Essential aspect of the movie. Now having said that I feel it necessary to ask the question as to why This is considered necessary? Is it because people are So Desperate to avoid comparison with the Avengers that they don't want Catwoman to appeal to fetishists in any way? If so, than they're making a mistake 'cause that was how she was designed. I promise, if you put some curves on her I won't jack off on your $17.00 IMAX seats. I can also sympathise as to how much work there is left to do in getting all the other aspects of tyhe movie right including those involving Selina Kyle and her relationship with Bruce Wayne. Her scenes are going to take some careful editing to get right but I have faith. And if there's a problem getting them done on time you can always bring in people to help. You can always bring in Jon Favreau for example. He's good with these kind of scenes and he's a fan too as indicated by a recent Tweet:
I mean, he'll even help you move if you ask him and won't charge you anything either. He's just that kind of guy..
I guess if I were to sum up my response it would be this: what I saw has the Potential to be great, but it isn't great yet and will require some significant further effort before it becomes an opening sequence that would compare favorably to the fantastic opening bank heist presented in the Dark Knight where everything was clearly articulated and about which hardly any of the final decisions are in question.
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Michael Caine as Alfred
Gary Oldman as Commissioner Jim Gordon
Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox
Tom Hardy as Bane
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake
Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate
Josh Pence as Ra's Al Ghul
RELEASE DATE: July 20th, 2012
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