By Thomas Leupp, Hollywood.com Staff
L.A.-area bloggers and journalists got their first extended look at Bane, the centerpiece villain in The Dark Knight Rises, last night at a preview event hosted by Warner Bros. Director Christopher Nolan, who only recently completed principal photography on the much-anticipated Batman threequel, was on-hand to introduce a seven-minute Dark Knight Rises ""prologue,"" the bulk of which was shot with IMAX cameras. Nolan is Hollywood's foremost champion of the extra-large format: 2008's The Dark Knight featured approximately 20 minutes of IMAX footage, by far the most ever for a mainstream film; the 2012 follow-up could easily double that.
Reactions to the clip, which introduces Bane (played by Tom Hardy) via a breathtaking high-altitude action sequence, were overwhelmingly positive but tempered somewhat by audience confusion as to just what exactly the new villain, who speaks through a mask with a nasal, aristocratic affect, was saying. Noted film writer Alex Billington, of firstshowing.net, declared the footage "unbelievably awesome" (emphasis his) with a lone caveat: "My only complaint has to do with his voice, I couldn't understand some of what Bane was saying, it seemed mixed wrong, but either that's part of it or just the first pass."
It may be hard to believe that Nolan, whose previous film, Inception, won Oscars for sound mixing and editing, (Dark Knight also won for sound editing, and was nominated for sound mixing as well) would release something to the media that was "mixed wrong" or "just a first pass," but other writers seemed to concur. HitFix's Drew McQueeny called it a "spectacular bigscreen sequence" before lamenting that "the mix on the sequence we saw tonight could use some tweaking because while I believe Nolan's goal is to make it hard to understand everything Bane says, it really felt like I only picked up about 10% of what he said."
Soun<a href=""http://www.hollywood.com/feature/The_Dark_Knight_Rises_News/26264583""><img src=""http://cdn-images.hollywood.com/site/DarkKnight.651x113.jpg"" border=""0"" height=""123"" width=""651""></a>d-mixing snafu or no, voice-related controversy is nothing new to Nolan's Batman saga: Christian Bale's Napalm Death growl in The Dark Knight was the source of much criticism, as were most of Katie Holmes' line readings in 2005's Batman Begins.
Moviegoers will get a chance to see the aforementioned footage next weekend, when it unspools ahead of IMAX screenings of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. The Dark Knight Rises opens July 20, 2012.
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