The Dark Knight Rises
Last week, I was invited to see a private preview screening of The Dark Knight Rises, three hours before the long-awaited midnight showings on July 20, 2012. The next morning, of course, I awoke to the news of a horrific shooting at one of those showings in Aurora, Colorado, in which 12 people were killed and nearly 60 were wounded, some critically. I have no idea how the movie figured into the gunman's plansif at allbut the event has certainly cast a pall over what would have otherwise been just another Hollywood mega-blockbuster opening.
The screening I saw was not in an Imax theater, which I regret, since director Christopher Nolan shot about one hour of the movie on 70mm Imax-format film with 4:3 frames that are about nine times larger than conventional 35mm film frames. The rest of the footage was shot on 35mm film in a "scope" aspect ratio of 2.4:1. (Nolan did the same thing with The Dark Knight, though he used less Imax footage in that case.)
Nolan's intent was to have the movie's aspect ratio switch back and forth between 2.4:1 and 4:3, but that can only be achieved in a classic, film-based Imax theater with a gigantic 4:3 screen. Most Imax theaters now use digital projectors on a smaller 16:9 screen, so the transition between aspect ratios is not nearly as dramatic, and the Imax footage is cropped. And you will see no change in aspect ratio in theaters other than those branded as Imax.
So where can you see The Dark Knight Rises exactly as the director intended? The website and magazine LF Examiner, an independent journal of the large-format motion-picture industry, has posted a list of 70mm film-based Imax theaters showing the movie. Nolan reportedly insisted that Warner Bros. make at least 100 70mm prints of the film to be shown in these theaters, and I plan to see it again in one of them.
What about the movie itself? It's a true sequel to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, relying heavily on plot points and characters from the previous installments. If you haven't seen them recently, I recommend watching them before you see The Dark Knight Rises. I admit I hadn't seen either one lately, and the new movie felt a bit disjointed to me, so I will definitely watch the first two again before I see the new one in Imax.
Overall, though, I enjoyed the movie, especially Anne Hathaway as the Catwoman and Tom Hardy as the evil Bane with his heavily processed voice. I did have a hard time suspending my disbelief that Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) could overcome the serious injuries sustained as Batman in the previous storiesinjuries outlined by a doctor in one scenenot to mention the beating he takes this time around. But hey, it's based on a comic book, so anything is possible!
As you might imagine, this is a pretty loud movie, though it wasn't as bad as many others I've seen, at least in a conventional digital-cinema theater. The average level over two hours and 44 minutesit's a long movie!was 82.3 dBA, and the highest maximum level was 95.5 dBA. The level exceeded 88.0 dBA 10 percent of the time, 80.0 dBA 33 percent of the time, 75.0 dBA 50 percent of the time, and 64.0 dBA 90 percent of the time. I expect it to be substantially louder in a real Imax theater.
If you liked the previous two installments of this trilogy, you'll probably enjoy the final episode, though I make no guarantees. Someone in the chat room of Leo Laporte's The Tech Guy radio show last Saturday said he's a huge fan of Christopher Nolan and Batman but found The Dark Knight Rises to be completely boring. To each their own, I always say!
If you see The Dark Knight Rises, please let us know the type of venue and what you thought of it.