LOS ANGELES — If you happened to be in or around the IMAX theater at Universal City Walk Thursday night, there's a decent chance you may have been privy to the collective fangasm (some shock and awe) generated by the lucky audience invited to screen the prologue for Christopher Nolan's third Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."
Nolan was on hand himself to introduce the nearly seven-minute clip, which he described as, basically, the opening sequence, with a few out-of-order bonus shots thrown in at the end. The director also emphasized his love for IMAX technology, explaining that even though it was probably developed before he was born, it is "far and away the best imaging format created," and it's one that allows fans to experience the grandeur of old Hollywood films, which Nolan said is "slowly being chipped away." At the special screening, he encouraged fans to seek out official IMAX screens for a fully immersive experience when "Rises" opens next summer, but not to inquire about the plot of the film.
"I've barely started to edit, so don't ask me about the ending," he joked just before the lights in the theater dimmed.
In the interest of preserving the mystery of the movie, Warner Bros. politely asked journalists in attendance to refrain from giving blow-by-blow reactions, a request MTV News is happy to heed. What we can say is that the action in the opening sequence occurs mostly on a plane and that it features several high-flying, mind-blowing special effects of the practical, not the CG, variety. The sequence seems to pick up right where "The Dark Knight" leaves off — Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent's funeral — and, most important, features one of the more memorable character introductions we've seen of late as viewers got the first look at Tom Hardy in action as Bane, complete with creepy leather face mask.
There are government agents, military personnel and civilians involved in the setup, but it's all eyes on Bane. And if what we see him say and do in the first few minutes is representative of his villainous arc in the full-length feature, it's clear that Nolan is venturing into more ominous territory in "Rises." Where Heath Ledger's unforgettable Joker was dark, twisted and almost whimsically crazy, Hardy's Bane is a horrific, maniacal force. That's apparent whenever the camera locks onto his eyes or when he speaks for the first time, revealing a garbled, aggressive German accent. Bane will no doubt prove a formidable force to be reckoned with, and we can't help but anticipate his first meeting with Batman.
Speaking of Batman, the caped crusader, played of course by Christian Bale, makes his first appearance in a few quick clips at the very end, along with new additions Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
Check out everything we've got on "The Dark Knight Rises."