Well, it took me just under a week but I did manage to see “The Dark Knight Rises” for a second time. If I could have seen it earlier in the week I would have, but this time I wanted to catch it in IMAX as director Christopher Nolan filmed much of it in that format. And since there are nowhere as many IMAX screens as there are regular movie screens in America, I figured getting tickets to see it that way would take forever. Tickets were being sold way in advance of the movie’s opening, and getting them sooner than later was not a bad idea as its predecessor was sold out for ages.
Nolan had made use of IMAX cameras previously with “The Dark Knight,” and the results were extraordinary. With those particular scenes which filled up the entire screen, you felt as if you were moving along with the camera as you sailed over the city of Gotham. But whereas “The Dark Knight” contained only twenty-eight minutes of IMAX footage, “The Dark Knight Rises” has over an hour of it. That’s quite impressive considering that the IMAX camera is said to be so incredibly noisy (Anne Hathaway has described it as sounding like an “espresso machine”) that filming dialogue scenes with it seems impossible.
The prologue of “The Dark Knight Rises” I had already seen previously when it debuted in IMAX before “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.” The high altitude escape of Bane (Tom Hardy) remains as viscerally exciting even after watching bootleg footage of it over and over on the internet. IMAX also serves to give Gotham an epic expanse which makes you see how powerful this big American city is. Certain overhead shots give you the feeling that some powerful force is observing the terrorist onslaught of Gotham from above, and the fact that it is not doing anything to stop Bane and his men makes you feel as helpless as the town’s citizens when he cuts the city off from the rest of the world.
Yes, there are scenes that do not take up the entire IMAX screen as they were dialogue driven scenes filmed in 35mm and 75mm, but the difference in projection never felt like a hindrance when watching this movie on such an enormous screen. With IMAX movies however, the resolution of the image is much higher to where you feel like you’re a part of the movie instead of just watching it. Heck, I’m surprised I didn’t get airsick just from watching Bane escape from that airplane.
Once again I am reminded of how much Christopher Nolan would love to shoot an entire movie in IMAX. With “The Dark Knight Rises,” he came really close as that hour plus footage in IMAX really feels like it’s a lot longer than that. Nolan is certainly out to give the audience their money’s worth here, and kudos to him for not bothering to shoot or present “The Dark Knight Rises” in 3D. Unlike so many other filmmakers, he knows where the future of movies truly lies, and it’s not with that extra dimension.
There’s also a couple of things I noticed while watching “The Dark Knight Rises” in IMAX which I’m not sure I was as aware of the first time I saw it on a regular movie screen:
- Of all the great performances in this movie, the best really belongs to Sir Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne’s ever so loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth. While his presence here pretty much amounts to a cameo, he gives “The Dark Knight Rises” its most emotionally powerful moments as he struggles to protect Bruce in the only way he knows how. One of his last scenes in this movie will definitely have you choked up and on the verge of tears. Regardless of what the actor has said about roles he has played in the past, Caine is not someone who ever just phones it in.
- Bane, as played by Tom Hardy, is not just another generic movie villain like some have claimed him to be. In his madness, Bane is calculated in his plans to destroy Gotham, and he is not without a heart. We even get to see him shed tears over the few he tried to protect when he was younger. I love these truly complex bad guys because they are so much more interesting than your average James Bond villain bent on world domination.
- That little boy singing “The Star Spangled Banner” reminds me of how I would like to see this song sung at major events; not by celebrities who are eager to show how many octaves they can reach with their vocal talents, and without any sort of accompaniment. Remember when people used to just sing the damn song? Their voice alone was more than enough to get your attention to where you can hear a pin drop in the stadium. Even Bane had to admit that the boy had a “lovely, lovely voice.”
- The movie’s last scene is not necessarily a lead to a new franchise as many have surmised, but proof of how Bruce Wayne’s intention to inspire people to do better paid off in a good way. Now keep in mind that proved to be the case long before he became Batman (just listen to Joseph Gordon-Levitt who played Blake).
- The Joker was not missed. If Heath Ledger were still with us, it would have been very cool to have him back in the role he won a posthumous Oscar for. But everyone knew quite well that Ledger was impossible to replace in that role, and even Nolan wasn’t about to try to do so.
- Anne Hathaway is an awesome Catwoman, and I don’t care what anyone says.
- Marion Cotillard is a goddess.
- Regardless of how many people say that this Batman movie is the darkest of the bunch, there is a genuinely strong ray of hope at its end.
Seeing “The Dark Knight Rises” a second time proved to me that I wasn’t trying to kid myself that the movie was great. There is at this point no doubt in my mind that this is a bravura finish to an astonishingly great movie trilogy, and that we are all lucky to have one as good as this. Seeing it in a regular movie theater is perfectly fine, but watching it in IMAX is something else.
* * * * out of * * * *