Attached to full IMAX prints of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a six-minute prologue to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, the eagerly-anticipated closer to Nolan’s Batman trilogy.  This excerpt sets up the hunt for Bane, a ghastly brute who requires a nightmarish breathing apparatus, which also serves to define his horrifying visage.  Designed and shown to start the public drooling for The Dark Knight Rises, does it do its job?

Spoilers lurk ahead, for both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises prologue!  Continue at your own peril…

As much as I hate to say it, I was rather underwhelmed by it all.  Why?  Not until the climactic end of the prologue and into the spare shots of scenes from the movie was I even remotely engaged.  Presented in IMAX with the exception of the opening logos and one eulogy scene from Harvey Dent’s funeral, the prologue concerns two prisoners being detained by CIA agents and escorted onto a plane.  The objective?  To gain any and all information about Bane, who (from the urgency with which this interrogation is carried out) seems to be an extremely dangerous international terrorist.  The tried-and-true “let’s fake one prisoner’s death to scare the other into giving us the information we want” play gets trotted out here with disastrous results.  The biggest reveal is that Bane himself is on the plane disguised as one of the two prisoners, having orchestrated this entire charade in order to liberate another prisoner onboard the airplane, Dr. Leonid Pavel.  Another, larger plane comes into view, dwarfing the CIA plane; this was, I thought, where the fun began.  Bane’s operatives tether the CIA plane to his plane, thus starting a gradual evisceration of the smaller plane – various panels and sections start falling off of the plane, rendering it useless.  And after saying an encouraging word about self-sacrifice to the other prisoner, Bane rides a tether with Dr. Pavel onto his plane, while the tethers holding the CIA plane are severed…
After this sequence, we are treated to full IMAX shots of various action scenes and character moments, all coming to the now-recognizable shot of the Batman insignia as outlined by crumbling buildings.

Sure enough, Nolan hasn’t missed a trick behind the camera – the entire scene was shot in IMAX, bearing a towering picture that shows every detail of the scene.  The action and set pieces are what I consider “Nolan-epic”, meaning that in its simplicity, it makes a huge imprint on the audience.  Not every big-budget director is the same; if you take a look at Michael Bay’s multimillion-dollar explosionfests, you’ll see that the action is all amped up to excite and titillate the audience.  Nolan’s set pieces are just as equally huge and the action is just as impressive (if not boatloads more impressive), but where Nolan succeeds over other action directors is in his willingness to make the action gigantic without having to resort to computer-generated trickery.

What turned me off was the overanxiousness of the blowhard CIA agent played by Aiden Gillen.  Here we have a character that seems to be possessed of self-righteousness and superiority; when he gets taken down, more’s the fun.  I can understand that one occasionally has to be the heel that everyone hopes dies horribly; if that was the intent, then Gillen did it perfectly.  Also, for all the complaints that actor Christian Bale’s voice as Batman was unintelligible in The Dark Knight, there are bound to be more concerning Bane.  Tom Hardy, recently seen in Nolan’s Inception, gives a growling mushmouth-type performance, more than likely due to the aforementioned breathing apparatus.  Nolan has already stated that there will be audio fixes done to make Bane’s voice clearer and more easily-understood.  Speaking of audio, maybe it was the auditorium in which I saw this prologue, but the sound lacked severe bass punch.  Hopefully this was just an oversight and the release version’s audio will kick the audience into the next building.

As a fan of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, there’s not one shred of doubt that I will jump at the chance to see The Dark Knight Rises.  This prologue, however, is a bit of a double-edged sword for me.  On one hand, the photography, the set pieces, the action and the scale of everything are extremely great and befitting of a place in Nolan’s Batman pantheon.  On the other, I found myself not caring a whit about any of the characters.  However, I’m looking forward to seeing this when it comes out in 2012, and I’m counting on Nolan to end this trilogy with a bang so big, even the gods will take notice and say, “Damn.”

FINAL GRADE: B

Reel Film News Movie Trailer (can we call it that?) Review by Eddie Pasa

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