It’s funny, when it comes to movies, I’m actually not that hard to impress.
While I consider myself well-versed in the world of film, at the end of the day all it really takes to peak my interest, is:
A): A decent cast.
B): A decent concept.
and C): The promise of people punching one another at some point in the movie.
In some cases that last one, if represented well enough, is the only excuse I need to see a movie, regardless of how dumb or crappy it is.
And when it comes to The Dark Knight Rises, as utterly incalculable as the build-up has, and will continue to be for the next 6 months or so, at the end of the day I will see it because it, unlike any other movie in film history; will deliver the long anticipated spectacle of Batman and Bane duking it out on the big screen.
Christopher Nolan’s track record when it comes to cinematography and fight choreography suggests that the ensuing bout will be clumsy and edited through a meat grinder, but even so, I’ve been waiting to see this fight brought to life on the silver screen since I was 6 years old; and crappy or not, I will not be denied.
That being said, Batman and Bane grudge match aside, what did I think of the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises?
Well, to answer your question, I felt it was quite good by most standards, but much too enigmatic and fractured in it’s presentation to pack the same visceral punch that the later trailers for The Dark Knight did.
Here’s a refresher in case you need it:
I’d prefer not to compare the 2, as it’s obvious the people cutting the trailers for these movies came at it from very different tonal and thematic standpoints; but I feel it needs to be said that, to me, The Dark Knight really did have some of the best trailers of all time.
Everything, from the shot selection, to the music cues, to the overall pacing of the trailers for The Dark Knight was absolutely spot on.
What’s more, thanks to the dialogue-heavy nature of the trailers, as well as his untimely death, an absurd amount of buzz was generated for Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker, (*Sigh* “Why So Serious?”) not to mention the overall plot of the film was made crystal clear.
Though it sounds silly in this cynical age of ours, in many ways I feel the catchphrases and buzzwords of The Dark Knight actually served to make it’s advertising campaign both effective and memorable on the whole.
The trailer for The Dark Knight Rises has a lot of neat shots in it, promising quite a few interesting set piece moments, however, perhaps due to the lack of dialogue, many of these shots are difficult to interpret from a purely visual standpoint.
Early on we see the reflection of a man with a cane approaching a shiny dinner platter while Alfred drones on about the Wayne dynasty:
Later, we see a bearded Bruce Wayne wandering around what appears to be the prison equivalent to Discovery Zone:
There’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
There’s A SHIT TON of rappeling.
Seriously, if you take into account the fact that maybe, just maybe, the people viewing this trailer haven’t been blogging about every step of the script writing process, or staring at leaked production photos for the past several months, (oddly enough, not me!) then this trailer basically offers no hint as to her role being that of Selina Kyle.
Oh wait excuse me, she’s wearing a mask at a masquerade ball that, if you look really hard, has cat ears:
Sarcasm deployed, mystery solved.
Much like Aaron Eckhart’s Two-Face, unless you’ve been following the production or are familiar with the Batman universe, chances are you’d never know Anne Hathaway was supposed to be Catwoman in this trailer.
Indeed, I’m curious to know what this trailer meant to people who aren’t familiar with Batman outside of the movies.
In many ways, when I watch this trailer, I feel my perception is skewed by the fact that I already have an attachment to and understanding of many of the characters based on their comic book equivalent.
When I think “Bane,” I already have an image in mind of what I expect from him.
When I hear Tom Hardy speaking through his mask I say to myself:
When I see scenes from the trailer like the prison break, I think to myself:
To the average Batman virgin however, I’d imagine imagery such as this would be provocative, but purely in a “oh, so that’s gonna’ happen at some point” kind of way.
Hell, I’m willing to bet the average Bat Virgin doesn’t have the slightest clue as to who or what Bane even is.
What I think I’m trying to say, is that the style of editing and presentation of this trailer is enticing, as anything with a budget and pretty pictures can manage to be, but at the same time I feel frustrated by the numerous vagaries it throws in my lap.
As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of the J.J. Abrams-style marketing.
It’s not that I prefer my trailers to spell their plots and structure out to me, I simply value coherence and context over sound cues and pretty pictures.
Much like all of Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters, The Dark Knight Rises appears to be an audio-visual powerhouse, though in some ways it appears a little less so at this point.
The set pieces looks suitably big, but the color palette appears more gray-ish and natural than The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, and curiously enough, despite it being an almost comical trademark of his, there’s not a single (gorgeous) overhead shot of a cityscape.
That last part troubles me, as I’m a big fan of Nolan’s wide open establishing shots, particularly in outdoor scenes, and though it may just be the editor’s doing; there are none to be found in this trailer.
Perhaps the strangest thing though, at least to me, is the fact that they re-used the mood building drone AKA The Joker’s theme from The Dark Knight in this trailer.
I always thought of that particular piece of music as “belonging” to The Joker, which made it somewhat puzzling to hear played over a trailer for a film that, almost certainly; won’t feature him.
Despite everything I’ve said about this trailer, both good and bad, at the end of the day it’s a very good piece of advertising for a sequel that, unfortunately, benefitted from some of the best advertising and pre-release buzz in recent memory.
Not only that, it’s only the first trailer, for a huge movie that isn’t dropping until late in the summer.
As good as the advertising for The Dark Knight was from the get go, the 2nd trailers for it, Iron Man, and Inception were all MONUMENTALLY better than the first, which leads me to believe the same will likely be the case with The Dark Knight Rises.
In addition to this, one also has to consider the fact that virtually all of Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters up to this point, while heavily advertised, also did well to avoid showing a great deal of the major story beats and action set pieces.
I don’t know about you, but up until it’s release I really thought the “truck flip” from The Dark Knight trailer was going to be the climax of the movie.
Instead, the entire skyscraper based finale of the movie ended up playing that role, while never once being hinted at in the trailers.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that though I may seem overly critical, in truth I’m just a fanboy hoping for the best.
In the meantime though, as weird as it seems, I think I actually liked the almost universally panned teaser for The Dark Knight Rises somewhat better than the trailer.
True, most of the footage was borrowed from Batman Begins.
True, Commissioner Gordon’s dialogue was hard to understand.
True, virtually nothing Commissioner Gordon had to say was even worth hearing in the first place.
BUT, at the very end of the teaser, there is a single, barely 2 second shot that made it all worth it:
Batman in the rain, taking a deep breath, while Bane slowly approaches from the foreground.
The whole thing was crap up until then, but that last shot instantly sold me.
The trailer, while bigger and much more coherent, didn’t have this shot or even a suitable equivalent.
True, it featured a few shots of Batman and Bane throwing down in the snow, however I felt the subtlety and dramatic implication of the teaser shot did more to appease the fanboy in me than the entirety of the full trailer.
That’s just me though.