A scant three weeks after filming wrapped on “The Dark Knight Rises,” Warner Bros. and director Christopher Nolan kicked off the marketing campaign for the July 2012 release by unveiling seven minutes of footage in the IMAX giant-screen format at an event held Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Introduced by Nolan as the “prologue” that begins the movie, it began with Gothan police commisioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) at a dais saying, “I knew Harvey Dent, I was his friend,” confirming that the D.A. character portrayed by Aaron Eckhart is dead.
It then cuts to a full-on action sequence involving hooded hostages in CIA custody who are taken aboard a small aircraft where an agent threatens to throw them overboard unless they give up information. When a hood is ripped off one hostage, the muscle-bound villain called Bane (Tom Hardy) is revealed. He then proceeds to pull off a surprise turnaround that leaves the baddies in control.
There is no point in spilling the details; suffice it to say it’s 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. Nolan will include some 50 minutes of IMAX in the final film.
Still, you’d have to know in advance the villain was Hardy, given that he’s muscled up and puffed up, has a shaved head, and wears a disturbing-looking gas mask that hides all his features save his eyes – a Hannibal Lecter hockey mask-look on steroids. The effect is more likely to appeal to S&M fetishists than to anyone who hopes to gaze upon the physically blessed actor, who also appeared in Nolan’s most recent movie, “Inception.” His voice behind the mask is metallic and muffled; another cause for concern.
Some additional images spliced onto the “prologue” showed Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (you can see her in a still on the movie’s official site) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a cop (not the rumored Holiday Killer). Nary a snippet of Christian Bale was included, though of course he returns as Bruce Wayne, aka Batman. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are also in the cast.
In a roll-out similar to the campaign for “The Dark Knight” in 2008, fans will be able to see this same “prologue” footage starting Dec. 16 when it runs as a trailer ahead of Tom Cruise-starrer “Mission Impossible: The Ghost Protocol.” A separate more traditional trailer will debut as a lead-in to “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” also starting Dec. 16.
Nolan says he chose to shoot in 65mm IMAX because he considers it “far and away the best imaging format ever created,” and that his goal is to bring back “some of the feeling of the grandeur of movies which is being chipped away.” He explained that he wants to recreate the feeling of being a child and encountering these larger-than-life images at the movies, and the excitement and impact those memories created for him.
Warner Bros. plans to release the film this summer in some 100 IMAX screens, mostly in North American cities, as well as rolling it out on thousands of screens in the traditional 35mm format. “We really hope the fans will seek out these theaters and experience it this way,” he noted.
Nolan, who wrote the script with brother Jonathan, has said that he was willing to do this third movie in what is now his “Batman” trilogy because it afforded him the opportunity to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. At the event, however, he evaded answering any specific questions about the story, saying the team really hopes to keep the details under wraps until the actual roll-out.
He confirms that the movie picks up eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight,” and involves Batman’s return to Gotham to face the villain Bane, who seeks to destroy the city, and to uncover the truth about the enigmatic Selina Kyle. Nolan describes Bane as a brutal killer, but wouldn’t say whether he breaks Batman’s back, as he does in the DC Comics 1993 “Knightfall” storyline. A brief trailer is posted on the movie’s official website.