(Sean Gerber and Josh Costella discussed the new footage in a new BOF/MMM Podcast live from Caeser's Palace in Las Vegas. >>> CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
“I want to be Chris Nolan when I grow up.”
It's a noble life aspiration from ROCK OF AGES director Adam Shankman and the feeling among the still reeling audience at CinemaCon was mutual. Moments before, the aforementioned Christopher Nolan unleashed an inarguably epic reel of footage from this summer's biggest movie, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
Both directors were there as part of Warner Bros.' presentation of its upcoming releases for 2012. Warner Bros. Pictures president Jeff Robinov served as host of a presentation that wasn't lacking in star power, or Batman directors. Tim Burton was there promoting DARK SHADOWS and he brought Johnny Depp with him!
The moment, though, belonged to Christopher Nolan and the director expressed how thankful he was to the theater owners in attendance for helping his run on the Batman franchise get to a point where he could actually conclude the story. The gratitude was followed by bad news: we weren't getting the new trailer. The good news, however, was that Nolan brought a series of "images" from RISES with him.
It's hard to say how long the sizzle reel was, as it seemed to cause an interruption in the space-time continuum. Suffice to say, this was significantly more than anyone expected to be shown, but not a single complaint was voiced. In the past, RISES has been described as a "war movie" and an "epic disaster film." As it turns out, it is both of those and more.
For those trying to keep their exposure to spoilers at a minimum, I'll provide a vague description first. The footage focused on a few key aspects. The first was the absolutely devastating nature of Bane and the unbelievable threat level he presents. The second was an aging, beat up Bruce Wayne at the end of his rope. Third, was the ambiguous relationship between Selina Kyle, Bruce Wayne, and their masked alter egos.
As a non-spoiler side note, Bane's voice has gained clarity. The reel opened with sequences from the PROLOGUE which included the villain's dialogue and the consensus is that the voice is much better. Only Nolan knows if he changed the mix, but I know for a fact that he used at least one different take to clear up one of Bane's lines. His delivery of, "the fire rises" was noticeably different from the PROLOGUE version.
Now, we've reached the turning point in this article. If you do not want to be spoiled AT ALL, this is where we part ways. Really. While both Nolan and Warner Bros. are OK with what was shown -- and we all know how close to the vest Chris plays things -- I know may of you reading want to know virtually nothing and that’s totally cool. What follows will be a more detailed description of what was shown and it is unknown how much of this footage, if any, will be included in the new trailer attached to THE AVENGERS next week.
So, HERE. WE. GO…
It opened with previously seen images from the PROLOGUE and teaser trailer before fading into brand new, incredible sequences. The first "money shot" has now been shown with Batman standing atop a bridge with the wind sweeping his cape behind him. Batman looks as badass as one would expect, but Bruce Wayne looks tired and in need of retirement.
We saw at least a couple shots of Bruce Wayne in his robe at Wayne Manor, one of which shows him in particularly awful shape. He's standing, but the fatigue shows on his face.
Not all is bad for Bruce, though, as his love life appears to be on the upswing. There was a shot of he and Miranda Tate kissing (I've seen it reported elsewhere that he was kissing Selina Kyle, but it was definitely Tate) on what appeared to be the "morning after."
The relationship between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle is a little harder to pin down, as the footage sent mixed signals. Selina Kyle might be a master of disguise, as she's shown leaving what appears to be a party in a maid's costume before ripping off the white collar to convert the outfit to a simple black dress. She's also quite the car thief, boosting Bruce's Lamborghini and, as you already know, the Batpod. What you don't know is that she's learned how to use the vehicle's weaponry.
Despite the evidence to the contrary, I was left with the feeling that Batman and Catwoman are indeed allies. There was a brief shot of the two of them fighting side-by-side, but more importantly was the sympathy Catwoman showed to Batman and his cause. "You've given them everything," she tells Batman, to which he replies,"No I haven't. Not yet." I'm paraphrasing the beginning of Batman's line, but I'm sure about the "Not yet" part. This was the moment that had the biggest emotional impact for me.
Meanwhile, police commissioner James Gordon has his hands full as he loses his grip on Gotham to Bane. We did not see much of him in this reel, but there was an incredible shot of Gordon lighting a road flare while searching for Batman, only for The Dark Knight to oblige his old friend, emerging from the smoke. You'll have to see it to understand just how amazing this shot looks.
Bruce Wayne's faithful butler and, let's be honest, adoptive father, Alfred, concedes that it may take Batman some time to get back into the "old routine." Remember that this film takes place eight years after THE DARK KNIGHT. Time, however, is not a luxury Bane is going to afford anyone.
Gotham is at war and Bane is the unstoppable villain who provided the declaration. The ill-fated football field was shown again, but this footage showed us an additional explosion in either a press box or luxury suite, begging the question of whom the target is.
The explosions don't end there. Bane takes out the bridges to Gotham City, perhaps in an effort to deter the arrival of outside assistance. Bane was also shown taking over the Gotham stock market, forcing brokers and other business men to march outside of the building with their hands behind their heads. Taking prisoners is about as much mercy as can be expected from Bane, I'd imagine.
There was also a shot of Batman looking behind him and seeing Bane waiting for him. It looked like they could have been in The Batcave. This might be the beginning of the their first fight, which Batman likely will not win.
Gotham's other heroes were also seen. Matthew Modine's character was shown preparing to lead his fellow officers into battle. There was another shot of the Gotham police force searching the tunnels beneath the city, presumably for Bane. John Blake, played by Joseph-Gordon-Levitt, was out looking for trouble. Blake finds what he's looking for in the form of a gun to the back of his head, but that scene cut away before we could see what became of him.
Batman is going to be down at some point in this movie, but he will rise and he will be well-equipped in this war. We've seen his new aerial vehicle before and learned it's name, The Bat, but this footage really showed it in action. It moves like a jet, doing a barrel roll as it whips over a Gotham skyscraper, but lands almost gently and efficiently like a helicopter within the safety of The Batcave. The Bat is cool. No doubt about it.
I'm sure there's more that I've unintentionally left out, but the feeling I walked out of this presentation with was clear: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES truly looks like the very best of Christopher Nolan's already legendary era of the franchise. There is a small, but visible ray of light at the end of the tunnel for Batman, but that just appears to be a freight train headed his way. That freight train has a name, and it is Bane.
While Batman may find a way to stop Bane, nothing will stop THE DARK KNIGHT RISES from blowing away fans and general audiences on July 20th.
I want to be Chris Nolan when I grow up, too. - Sean Gerber