Bane and Batman Face-Off in <strong><em>The Dark Knight Rises</em></strong>

Do not read the following if you want to stay fresh and clean. A few minor spoilers lay ahead.

Christopher Nolan hopes to ignite a fervor amongst fanboys with his seven minute long prologue to The Dark Knight Rises, which will be attached to IMAX prints of Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol when it gets it's early IMAX theatrical release on December 16th.

Speaking before an advanced screening of this Bane-centric short in Hollywood tonight, the director introduced the clip by expressing his love for the IMAX format. He wants audiences to know that this is the only way to see his new film. Even though its short at just seven minutes, Christopher Nolan is putting this footage in theaters early to whip up a want and need to see The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX. Rather, though, this so-called prologue will more likely stir up nothing but controversy and debate.

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The Fire Rises, indeed.

We're contractually banned from giving a second-by-second, blow-by-blow, detailed account of what this seven minutes of footage contains. It's a teaser. A Taste. And a quite detailed account already hit the Internet last week. It's true. This seven-minute short film, as rumored, is Bane (played by Tom Hardy) on an airplane. This footage is bookend by Gary Oldman's Lt. Gordon telling an enraptured crowd how much he misses Harvey Dent. And it ends with a random procession of quick clips from the as-yet unfinished movie. The scene earning the heaviest response from the crowd sees Bane carrying Batman's tattered mask, which has been crushed and ripped in half. It's a very powerful image.

According to Christopher Nolan, he has barely begun to scratch the surface on putting the final film together, "I have barely started to edit. Please don't ask me what happens at the end." He said with a smile.

With the exception of the Harvey Dent memorial, which clocks in at less than a minute, everything seen is in gorgeous IMAX. And it's stunning. The cinematography is beautiful. These opening moments are surprisingly lush and bright, and green. It has been shot in the daytime. Not at all what you might expect from a Christopher Nolan Batman movie. And that is bound to throw a few people for a loop.

We can't tell you what happens on the airplane, but the aerial stunts are exhilarating and streamlined. It's an action packed seven minutes, for sure. Yet, it doesn't quite have the same emotional weight as The Dark Knight's prologue. That scene was perfect in setting up the Joker's introduction. It worked on its own. And it got people really excited for the movie yet to come.

<strong><em>The Dark Knight Rises</em></strong> footage Screened
The Dark Knight Rises prologue is a complete 360. It's a bit incomprehensible. It makes little sense out of context. The actors surrounding Bane seem cheap in an 80s TV show kind of way. And it has a slight odor of Spider-Man 3 stench hanging off of it. Which is to say, it's actually pretty good. But it's inevitable. Fans are no doubt expecting more. They will be disappointed. I was expecting more. This is good stuff, but is it good enough?

The main debate will come with Bane as the main villain. As with the bright daytime photography in contrast to the dark nighttime gloom associated with Batman, Bane couldn't be any more different from The Joker if he tried. He isn't charismatic. So far, he isn't likeable. And worst of all, you can't understand anything he is saying. Trust me, he has huge chunks of dialogue in just this short stretch. And its almost all unintelligible.

This isn't a slam on the character. This is what he is supposed to be. Unlikable. It's all intentional. And Tom Hardy looks to have created something original and unique in the superhero genre. This isn't like any Bane we've seen before. And this is where the heated debates are going to arise.

You simply can't compare Heath Ledger's Joker to Tom Hardy's Bane. It's a moot point. And the grating contrast was really the only way Christopher Nolan could go, here in this final installment of his beloved franchise. In the coming months, leading up to The Dark Knight Rises release on July 20th of next year, there will be plenty of deliberation about this new villain. And it will all boil down to this one question: "Does this suck? Or does it not?"

Me, personally? I can't stand being unable to hear dialogue in a movie. It drives me nuts. And trust me, you will be straining to hear the words coming out of Bane's breathing apparatus. Especially in a packed movie theater surrounded by the noise of the crowd. This was only seven minutes of Bane, and truthfully, I was annoyed by it. "What the buck did he just say?" I caught, "The Fire Rises!" But everything else was incomprehensible.

After the screening was over, I was allowed a quick second to shake Christopher Nolan's hand. I had to ask. "Are we going to be able to understand anything Bane says?"

This was his response.

"Probably not. He has the mask on, the apparatus, and he has the accent. It's a tough one. He's incredibly hard to understand. Of course, the whole movie doesn't take place on a plane...This insures that you'll go back and see the movie a couple of times in the theater."

Tom Hardy plays Bane in <strong><em>The Dark Knight Rises</em></strong>
So straight from the director's mouth himself. We will probably not understand most of what Bane is saying. Not until we get the Blu-ray home and pop it in with subtitles. Let's just remember one thing. He could fix the dialogue in post. As mentioned before, this is purely intentional on Christopher Nolan's part. The Joker had an elegant and delicious way of speaking. It was infectious. How do you top that? By having a villain that is impossible to understand at least 70% of the time.

Is the seven-minute The Dark Knight Rises prologue worth a trip to the IMAX theater and a ticket to Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol? Yes. Just be prepared to be a little under whelmed (the montage at the end of this short film will seem quite familiar to anyone who has kept up with all the spy footage. Most of these iconic images have already been accounted for in bootleg form, which, I think, too, is intentional). Also, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol is pretty damn near close to being the best film in that series. So even without the Batman footage, it might be worth it.

I'm just saying...