It is with regret that the IMAX showing of The Dark Knight Rises prologue and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was yours truly’s first experience of the format. Because it is the greatest cinematic experience I’ve ever experienced.
Superior than the magic of my first visit to the pictures for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves or any gratuitous three-dimensional picture, it is a breathtakingly immersive treat. And at £15, is undeniably reasonable.
Generic cinema adverts were shown in 35mm and once ended, suddenly the spotlight fell upon the usher, who announced that there would be a few trailers prior to the IMAX premiere of Tom Cruise's fourth outing as Ethan Hunt. He then added the cherry on top of the richly iced cake: that prior to the film was The Dark Knight Rises prologue. This set off cheers.
Then the screen expanded into IMAX format for two trailers: Puss in Boots and John Carter. Nobody seemed receptive to these because the adrenaline had already taken over, and sans BBFC clarification, the Warner Bros. logo suddenly appeared, but portrayed as ice cracking. There is a short speech made by Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon eulogising Harvey Dent in 35mm, before fading to black. Subsequently, the screen enlarges once more for the sequence.
Christopher Nolan shot the majority of The Dark Knight’s action sequences in IMAX and has promised that roughly an hour’s worth of footage will appear in the conclusion to his Batman saga. The marker he has laid down with The Dark Knight Rises prologue (ie. the opening six minutes of the film) is innovation personified.
Introducing the Caped Crusader’s latest antagonist Bane (Tom Hardy), it resembles the opening to The Dark Knight’s bank heist, from playing with identities to painting a twist on a raid. Parts of Hardy’s dialogue are unintelligible due to Hans Zimmer’s intense score and the airborne setting, but critiques have over-exaggerated the ‘problem’ of Bane’s mask muffling his voice. Sounding gentlemanly, with some Cary Grant from North by Northwest thrown in, his primal outburst is however bone-crunchingly fierce.
Blending Bondian grandeur with Inception’s vertiginous audacity, it is a remarkable and epic exhibition of stunt work and – most impressively – seemingly free of CGI. A director who refuses to resort to painting by numbers unless absolutely necessary, Nolan has again afforded cinephiles a treat – only in the highest resolution on Britain’s largest screen.
For one who usually sneers at Americanised audiences clapping pointlessly (ie. a plane landing), it was testament to the majesty of the six minutes and teasing montage that I, and many others, did applaud an amazing feat on film.