The Dark Knight Rises publicity machine has hit full throttle, and the film doesn't even reach theaters until July 2012. A newly released poster for the final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy generated impressive buzz earlier this week. And now Warner Brothers has screened the first six minutes of The Dark Knight Rises for critics in New York, the same prologue that will play before IMAX showings of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol beginning this Friday. Critics were forbidden to divulge specific plot points, but that hasn't stopped them from giddily teasing some of the footage they previewed. Here, four talking points:
1. The film launches with an incredibly impressive stunt
After a scene previewed in the film's trailer — in which Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon laments Harvey Dent's untimely death — audiences are treated to "an elaborate and grand aerial action set piece," says Indie Wire. Indeed, this footage is "hugely ambitious and technically outstanding," says Robbie Collin at the U.K.'s Telegraph, culminating in a stunt "the likes of which I've never seen before." Let's just say that it involves two planes, a crash, and actors dangling from wires. Amazingly, it's all "pulled off seamlessly, without any apparent assistance from computer graphics."
2. But an unintelligible villain overshadows the stunt's impact
Tom Hardy makes a big impression as the brutal villain Bane, says Katey Rich at Cinema Blend. But worryingly, Bane has several lines of exposition, "and you can't understand a single one of them." At all. "Imagine trying to listen to someone with a heavy accent, speaking from the other side of the wall so their voice is muffled and you can't even read their lips for clues." Yeah, it's painful, says Collin. The critical consensus: "Nobody had understood what on earth Bane was saying."
3. A bonus montage will whet your appetite
After the six-minute prologue concludes, viewers are treated to a "rapid-fire" montage of shots from the rest of the film, says Steven James Snyder at TIME. Highlighted: Glimpses of Anne Hathaway in full Catwoman attire, multiple shots of the Batmobile in action, and brief footage of Bane dropping a shattered mask — the same image the film's new poster features. That could be an allusion to a DC Comics storyline from the early '90s in which "Bane notoriously broke Batman's back," notes Joe Neumaier at the New York Daily News.
4. IMAX was the icing on the cake
Screening the prologue on an IMAX screen only increased the "wow factor," says Snyder, leaving me enthralled and eager to see the rest of the film. With this prologue, Nolan proves once again that he maximizes the world's biggest screens like no one else, "bringing the audience inside a meticulously choreographed spectacle." If this is just a taste of what's to come, "expect fireworks."
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