If you thought that Christian Bale's Batman was difficult to understand, you'll love Bane...
The slight matter of the prologue for “The Dark Knight Rises” only playing in select IMAX cinemas in the UK and the teaser trailer being attached to prints of “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” wasn’t going to be an impediment to me seeing them today. Oh, heck no.
This being the age of internet Kung Fu and impeccably coded bread crumb trails concealed within forum posts, I was able to hop around the interverse for a few minutes and got to enjoy both slices of Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming conclusion to the Batman trilogy.
Yes, they were in borderline-imperceptible, somebody’s elbow-in-the-frame, gritty and grainy cam-vision but that’s neither here nor there. SPOILERS for the preview footage follow.
The prologue, first. This is the six-minute sequence which introduces the threequel’s villain Bane and does even more than the extended snow level did in “Inception” to surely position director Christopher Nolan as a future Bond helmer. The action is huge, seems admirably practical in staging and offers a wonderfully frustrating teaser as to Bane’s motivations, back story and character.
Hardy is fantastic in this most brief of glimpses – a brute of a man who is none the less intelligent, methodical and possessed of a deadpan sense of humour (his one-liner when asked about the goal of his plan is a classic). If there is a problem, its that Bane’s headgear and electronically processed voice makes it difficult to understand much of his dialogue – a problem compounded when his hench persons rappel down to the jet he’s being transported on (from their own transport plane, as one’s L33T hench persons are wont to do) and proceed to systemically dismantle the bloody thing whilst it’s in mid-air: It’s a bold gambit and one that I support completely.
The thing is, when you’ve got an already difficult to understand character, heavy-duty sound effects competing for attention in the audio mix and all kinds of visual chaos going on (and you’re relying on this to be your big introduction to the character who will be the main antagonist in the film), it would be nice to be able to understand the bulk of what he’s saying.
It’s a simple but presumably easy to fix post-production problem, which will hopefully be achieved by the time that we get to hear the final sound mix in the release prints. Because, and call me crazy here, I’m not sure that I want to see a film where both of the main characters are nearly impossible to understand. It’d be like watching those two titans of elusive diction, Miley Cyrus and Chris Tucker acting together on-screen. The horror – the horror!
The trailer gives a real sense, meanwhile, of Gotham City’s slide into anarchy and injustice without the Batman on hand to cause massive property damage and beat up fellow costumed neer-do-wells.
We’ve got a football stadium being blown asunder by Bane’s forces, prison riots, mass disorder, the Tumbler being pursued by Batman’s Batwing, Bane standing triumphant and even some business from Anne Hathaway’s Selena Kyle, whose dialogue suggests that Nolan is going to deal with the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ and anti-globalisation protests in some fashion. Rather him than Michael Bay, I guess?
Glib internet snarking aside, the trailer is quite heady stuff, even when seen in the murkiest quality possible and suggests that Nolan has lost none of his gift for translating the heightened reality of comic book characters and settings into something which approaches a convincing reality – it’s always seemed as though Christopher Nolan was directing the sort of genre movie which Michael Mann is so skilled in, but interpolating his take on Bruce Wayne into a story of obsessively dedicated professional criminals and the people who try to catch them. With more gadgets and a key to the dress-up box.
That may seem inordinately daft to some readers – why is he wasting his obvious talents on Batman when he could be exploring the territory that he brought to the screen in “Memento”? – but the seriousness and grounding that he brings to this character and this world feels just right to me.
If nothing else, he’s managed to almost wipe this rather terrible memory from my mind and for that, I thank him.