New Year Extravaganza pt. 5: The New Era Rises

Here we are:  the Final Day of the New Year Trailer Extravaganza.  Reviews from Days One through Four can be found at the following links: The Hobbit — Prometheus — The Dictator — Jack the Giant Killer.  Also, if you’d like to check out the review I did for the Teaser trailer for this film that came out in October, you can see that at the link above as well.

December 16th is a day that will go down in history as the day that hundreds of people flocked to the theaters, not to see a movie, but to see the trailer before it.  Hundreds of men, women, and teenaged fanboys waited anxiously for the lights to dim, the commercials to finish, and the previews to begin.  I imagine a great hush filling the theater at the each and every green preview screen, a profound and awe-filled silence hoping that this would be the one.  And about three trailers in, that pause would be rewarded with by far the most anticipated trailer of our generation, if not all time. Truly, this was a great day for the art form of the trailer, when people waited more anxiously for a two-minute teaser than for the two hour movie it preceded.

And so, it is with great joy and even greater trepidation, that I proudly present to you the first trailer for Christopher Nolan’s finale to his Batman Trilogy.  Please enjoy the video below and then continue on to find my analysis of it.
Without further ado, The Dark Knight Rises:

I, of course, was sitting by my computer on the 16th of December, waiting for the internet release of the first trailer for what is sure to be the cinematic event of the decade – when millions of fans line up outside theaters to watch, of all things, a Batman movie.  Since the trailer’s release, I have poured over it for countless hours trying to figure out what makes it tick and what strikes (or fails to strike) at our heartstrings.  As this is such an important trailer, I think I will break it down into two sections.  First, I will analyze the trailer as it is, solely on its own merits and see how it holds up without all the hype.  Then, I will take a look at what this trailer tells us about the coming film itself, analyzing whether or not it will live up to our very lofty expectations.  So, let’s dig into the trailer, shall we?

Trailer Review

The trailer begins with the applause that the audience is holding back, giving life to the stifled emotions of fans who are desperately trying to catch every sound and word.  Clearly the editor took a leaf out of Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, because they go with a kid singing an otherwise harmless song while we see all hell break loose.  The National Anthem becomes the underlying level for the entirety of the trailer, illustrating the authenticity and humanity of the chaos in Gotham and the turmoil in Bruce Wayne’s inner struggle.  Accentuating the line “At the Twilight’s last gleaming” is absolutely brilliant – further fueling the fanboy debate over whether or not the Batman will survive this film.  In the end, it is a gambit that really works at creating tension in the audience’s mind and making them lean forward in their chairs to see what will happen next.

Leading off the trailer is our first look at Bane (assuming you haven’t seen any of the set leaks on the internet).  I like the quick look at him rising from the sewers – it clearly spells out for non-fans that this isn’t going to be a happy and cheerful sports film. 🙂  It sets up the tone for the film very early.  Immediately following that we get a beautifully pained monologue from Alfred (Michael Caine) grieving at his failure to due his duty to his now-past masters.  Heart-wrenching for fan and regular film-goer alike, this sort clip shows us that Bruce’s inner struggle with his role in the world of Gotham will take center stage in this film.  The editors do a fantastic job of setting up a lot of what the film is going to be about on the basic levels very early on in the trailer so that we can move on to the more specific conflicts as the video goes on.

Following a great shot of PittsburGotham and the aforementioned haunting lyric, we get our first title card at 0:29. Rising from the blackness comes the name that, four years ago, was respected by critics and unknown by the masses. Yet within that short time-span, we have come to know the name of Christopher Nolan via two smash hit phenomenons – one being the prequel to this film. The text card itself is fine, being typical Nolan fashion.  My only qualm with it is that it does not match the actual Title slide at the end, but I will get to that later.  Suffice it to say, this acts as a good separation of the first moments of the trailer and its second act.

The Rising Action, if you will, of the trailer begins with a reminder that a lot of time has passed since the capturing of the Joker. We get a changing of the guard from the “War Hero” Commissioner Gordon to an assumed peace-time police force.  Though it is a short clip, it gives the audience that sickly sweet sense of irony that the upper-ups of Gotham think that they are now in a time of Peace.  Of course, we the audience see the dramatic irony and are let in on the joke, particularly by the shot of the silhouetted man on the roof.  Again, a brilliant move by the editing team – we are drawn deeper into the zone and they continue the pattern of giving us something that goes on to set up that which follows.

At 0:40, the fanboys went nuts I am sure as we get our first audio bit from Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman.  Fans have been wondering ever since it was announced that Anne Hathaway was attached to the project whether or not Ms. Princess Diaries would fit as the seductive and independent jewelry thief, known for running circles around Batman upon occasion.  I will get into more detail about what she says later, but I can say that the way Hathaway performs in the 20 second monologue we are given is fantastic and she seduces not only Wayne but the audience further into rapture at the trailer.

Overlaying Kyle’s little speech about corporate greed, we get a very interesting divergence from the way that Batman has been done before.  If you remember back to the 1997 film Batman and Robin, you might recall a Bane who is hulk-ish and a brute with no apparent intellectual capacities what so ever.  However, it is clear that Christopher Nolan is taking the big steroid-junkie image of the Bob Kane campy Batman and throwing it out, remaining in favor of Frank Miller’s gritty realism.  From 0:45 – 1:03, we see a very interesting realization of that stylistic choice.  While there is a lot of explosions and chaos all over the place, neither Bane nor Catwoman seem to be any part of it.  Both are engaged in hauntingly calm actions – walking around corridors, putting on pearls – not things that one typically expects of supervillians.  It furthers the quiet tenseness of the trailer, allowing a natural contradiction to play in our minds.  I will say, though, that whoever thought up the line “BATten down the hatches” should be drawn and quartered for terrible punsmanship.

By FAR, my favorite part of the entire trailer comes at 1:04.  The editor does a beautiful thing:  he/she overlays the prison chanting (which so captured us back at the Teaser trailer) over top of three scenes and makes them flow beautifully.  The chanting starts as we see a massive prison break, clearly organized by Bane.  Flawlessly, the left-right motion of the camera in that shot is transitioned to one of the Football teams punter preparing to kick off the start of the game, and THEN, the motion continues further into the next shot of Bane calmly approaching one of the field entrances.  There, the camera stops and the motion of Bane walking away from the camera suddenly becomes a flashback to Bruce walking away from camera into the prison where the chanting is!  It is an amazing bit of cinematographic and editing brilliance that creates flow for the specific moment and continues the ramping of the trailer as a whole!  Absolutely amazing work!  And it ends with “Rise.”  Wow!  They work in the key word for the film perfectly, reminding us that this is both the rise and fall of Batman in Nolan’s trilogy.  Truly remarkable work in editing and proof that their is an art to this think called trailers.

Unfortunately, that great success is short lived.  The next ten seconds are entirely pointless.  1:20 – 1:30 shows us a slightly comedic scene as the punt returner for the Gotham Rogues runs the length of the field as it collapses behind him.  In short, this section is unnecessary.  It kills the flow they had going because it isn’t big and powerful to play off of the preceding build and it certainly isn’t even close to being the horror-esque “Loud to Silent” scare tactic that we have seen in both the Prometheus and Jack the Giant Killer trailers.  It disrupts the flow and, to be honest, is a bit spoilerish to me.  I would have loved to have seen that for the first time when I saw the movie.  If nothing else, that leaves Bane’s plan in the shadows which only makes me more interested.  They should have cut right to “When Gotham is ashes…” line that Bane has immediately after this section and left this shot out entirely.

And with that I am now obligated to briefly mention “The Bane Problem”.  If you didn’t catch what Bane was saying the first time around, don’t worry – neither did thousands of audience members around the globe.  I will get into this issue more later, but for nowthe line he says is this: “When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die.”

The remaining Third Act is a wonderfully collected montage of action and text cards.  In particular, I believe the editor found it necessary to highlight every major star in the film who hadn’t been shown yet.  Marion Cotillard gets a brief unmasking as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Hathaway and Hardy get at least one more facial each and their is of course a lot of fighting.  Overall, the pacing of the montage is great and it does a great job of pumping us up for little things.

For example, the text cards couldn’t have been better stated.  Very briefly we know when the film is coming out and that this is the “Epic Conclusion to the Dark Knight Legend“.  The phrasing gives us exactly the psych-up we need going in to the last stretch of the trailer and it simply does a good job of conveying the grandness of this film in a short time.

Another great thing we see is a progression of intensifying action as the trailer draws to a close.  Starting with a shot of Wayne talking to Miranda Tate, the montage builds each shot to a new level of motion, special effects and chaos until finally ending on the jaw-dropping first look at the Bat-plane and the crumbling skyscrapers forming the logo.

Before I hit the final seconds, I want to speak about the music.  Going back to the beginning, I love how the editors play off of the pregnant silence that undoubtedly filled each theater when it starts.  They recognized this coming atmosphere and use that to their advantage.  Overall the trailer is very quiet, playing on that awe-filled pause and drawing the audience further into that moment.  The little music that is there is very percussive, driving the trailer and our heart-rates to higher and higher echelons.  The patented Hans Zimmer slow-rising note gives the second act trailer the structure and ramping that it needs.  And, of course, the pounding chant drives the final montage into an emotional fever pitch, which allows the theme at the end to pop the silent bubble in the theater and permits the audience to go mad with cheering and applause.  As a whole the music is quiet and inviting, drawing the audience in beautifully to the environment of the trailer.

The montage ends with a burning white screen that screams visually at the audience, just as Hans Zimmer’s theme is doing auditorily.  Wonderfully juxtaposing the previous film’s white text on black screen title sequence, The Dark Knight rises boldly out of the ivory perfection in stark blackness, followed shortly by that ever important modifying verb, as the theme swells to its climax and our goosebumps reach their most heartstopping peak.  It is a beautifully orchestrated moment that packs every bit of the punch that the editors built into it.

With a few powerful thrusts of the score and one final haunting reminder that “The Legend Ends…”, we come to the conclusion of one of the greatest trailers I have ever seen.  It is compelling and wonderfully layered so that each moment builds upon the next.  Other than the one shot mentioned, nothing is given away so that I feel cheated of any reason to see the film at all.  We are perfectly teased into wanting to see this movie in the best IMAX image possible on opening night with sold-out crowds.  The marketing team at Legendary Pictures can be very proud to know that they made a fantastically successful first trailer and have fans eager for the next one.  The Dark Knight Rises is off to a great start, thanks to this absolutely incredible trailer.

Overall Rating:  5//5

Now that we have picked apart this magnificent trailer, I’d like to briefly turn to some of the questions and thoughts this trailer brings up about the coming film:

Film Expectations

Overall, I would say this trailer did nothing but excite me about what is to come in The Dark Knight Rises.  However, I do have a few questions that this trailer failed to answer and so I bring them up here.

First and foremost in my mind, this trailer does a great job of jumping the gap from the ending of The Dark Knight.  As I recall from the end of that film, Batman was on the run from every Gotham City Official because of his taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s death.  The trailer for the sequel doesn’t show us much of what happened in between then and now so I am left with several big questions to bridge the gap.  I was shocked to learn from IMDB that this film is set a full eight years after the events of the previous film.  What does that mean for Batman, for Gotham, and more importantly for Bruce Wayne?

Obviously, the big unanswered elephant in the room is this:  what happened to the Joker?  As Heath Ledger will be unable to reprise his role in Rises, fans have been speculating for three years now as to what happened to the insane arch-nemesis of our Batwinged hero.  Unfortunately, this trailer does nothing to give us any clues as to the solution to that mystery.  The trailer does state that Gotham is no longer in a state of war as it was in the time of the Joker, which does hint that perhaps they have removed him from the equation in some manner.  However, what end (temporary or otherwise) the Crown Prince of Crime came to will have to be left until, I suspect, the film releases this summer.

Another big concern has cropped up about The Dark Knight Rises as a direct result of this very trailer.  I mentioned earlier that audiences complained about having difficulty understanding Bane’s lines through his heavy respirator device.  Labeled “The Bane Problem” by several news media outlets already, the internet has become a firestorm of memes and discussions about the addition of another oddly mangled voice joining Christian Bale’s world famous growling Batman.  News stories have cropped up saying Nolan and Co. are looking into cleaning up the villian’s audio track for the final release of the film, but most thus far have been false.  Personally, I understood what he was saying after only a second viewing.  I think most audience members will be able to adapt and learn to listen properly to Bane just as they do with people who speak with foreign accents.  However, some movie-goers and WB Executives are still worried about this issue, so we will see how it gets addressed over the coming months.

One final concern I know I share with some fans is that The Dark Knight Rises might be overbooked with storylines for it to be successful.  I am not alone in my fear that this could turn out in a manner like Spiderman 3, which is generally held as a train-wreck of a movie because it tried to do to much.  The comparisons are startlingly similar:  A hero struggles with personal identity as well as his moral responsibility to society, all the while fighting not one but two supervillians and trying to protect the people he loves.  Luckily, this trailer shows a great balance of each of these elements which gives me hope that this film will not fall into the same pit at it’s web-slinging predecessor.  If nothing else, I can have hope because I know that Christopher Nolan is far too tactful to allow Bruce Wayne to meltdown into an angsty jerkwagon who Saturday Night Fever-struts around Gotham. 🙂

My last comment about the first trailer for this film is that they reveal an interesting plot point that I don’t think any fan expected.  Selina Kyle’s monologue to Bruce during the ball is oddly reminiscent of our current economic issues and political activism.  I practically expected a shot of the “Occupy Gotham” movement during the final montage series, particularly because it was rumored that they were going to film at Occupy Wall Street a few months ago (though that never ended up happening).  Still the uber-political motivations of Catwoman to bring down the “1%” is very intriguing, and I know I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how that element plays out in the chaotic world of Gotham.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Well!  This has by far been my largest review here on Art of the Trailer and it is a beautifully fitting end to the New Year Trailer Extravaganza.  If you missed any of the previous four days of the review blitz, I’d love it if you’d check those out at the following links: The Hobbit — Prometheus — The Dictator — Jack the Giant Killer.

It has been absolutely wonderful sharing all of this with you and I can’t imagine a better way to kick off the 2012 blogging season than with five great trailers to review and the promise of many more to come.  Thank you from the bottom of my hear for sticking around for all five days and for all of the great feedback you have given on the posts thus far.  I would absolutely love to hear what you think of this trailer for The Dark Knight Rises in the comments below, particularly your thoughts on the semi-political nature given off by the trailer or “The Bane Problem”.  And what do you think happened to our good friend Smiley?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below and I will be sure to reply to any and all of them.

I honestly can’t tell you what is coming next for Art of the Trailer other than to say that it will be the same Bat-time (Noon on Friday) and the same Bat-channel next week.  I will be announcing what trailer I will be reviewing on Tuesday’s post over on the Soontobeangel blog, so be sure to tune in for that.  Again, thank you so much for your support, let me know what you think of this review, and I will see you all next Friday for another look at the Art of the Trailer.  Bye!

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About Tyler D. Welch

Filmmaker, Storyteller, Scholar View all posts by Tyler D. Welch

2 responses to “New Year Extravaganza pt. 5: The New Era Rises

  • Logstorm!

    “The Bane Problem” actually did not come about at the release of this trailer. It came about from the 6 minutes of footage that was shown in IMAX in front of Mission: Impossible. Having seen that 6 minute preview, I can attest that his dialogue was almost completely intelligible. It was so difficult that it was literally impossible to understand about 50% of his dialogue and the other 50%, while barely understandable, had to be processed several times through my brain before I understood it. The trailer, on the other hand, was a lot easier to understand even though you definitely have to be paying attention to pick it up.

  • How to make me HATE your Movie in less than 5 Seconds | The Art of the Trailer

    […] instantly painting a picture of what we were in for.  Go back and watch the first trailer for the Dark Knight Rises or the one for Man of Steel.  This trailer, before it had ever shown me any footage, had let me […]

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