At 6:30 p.m. tonight, Regal theaters across Middle Tennessee are showing all three movies in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy back to back, climaxing with late-night screenings of the much-anticipated The Dark Knight Rises. After seeing TDKR at a preview screening last night, we'd advise the following: See the trilogy, and see it on Opry Mills' real-deal 70mm IMAX.
Why the trilogy all in one sitting? If The Dark Knight overshadowed Batman Begins upon release, The Dark Knight Rises makes clear that all along it was the second panel in a triptych. The Joker never gets a mention, but characters and events from the first movie are revived here and resolved, giving the three films an epic heft and sweep while unifying the trilogy into a sustained vision. As a stand-alone movie, The Dark Knight Rises is rarely less than gripping, and even its unrealized ambitions are impressive. Viewed straight through, however, as the concluding third act of a three-film arc, it may look even better.
Why 70mm IMAX? Nolan certainly exploits the eye-filling format for every grain of spectacle — as with last winter's I-candy Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, this is one movie where you eagerly await the establishing shots. Even more impressive, though, is how he toggles between widescreen 2.35:1 framing and the square, screen-filling IMAX ratio for dramatic effect. Early on, loyal Alfred (Michael Caine) tells Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne he dreams of seeing his lifelong boss lead a normal life. The scene between them is in standard widescreen. Alfred's intercut fantasy of Bruce at an outdoor cafe, however, is in dazzling, crystal-clear IMAX — a cut that immediately evokes the power of the dream and their bond.
Even if you save it for after seeing the movie, we direct you to Bilge Ebiri's excellent review in this week's Scene, which had those of us who saw the movie last night nodding in agreement this morning. My major complaint is that the casting director was evidently instructed to find the least intelligible actors available — which reaches an exasperating peak in one of the movie's most pivotal scenes, wherein the three principals must've taken elocution lessons from Fat Albert's Mushmouth. The rest — well, we can talk about it after tonight.