The Dark Knight Rises

Last week, I was invited to see a private preview screening of The Dark Knight Rises, three hours before the long-awaited midnight showings on July 20, 2012. The next morning, of course, I awoke to the news of a horrific shooting at one of those showings in Aurora, Colorado, in which 12 people were killed and nearly 60 were wounded, some critically. I have no idea how the movie figured into the gunman's plans—if at all—but the event has certainly cast a pall over what would have otherwise been just another Hollywood mega-blockbuster opening.

The screening I saw was not in an Imax theater, which I regret, since director Christopher Nolan shot about one hour of the movie on 70mm Imax-format film with 4:3 frames that are about nine times larger than conventional 35mm film frames. The rest of the footage was shot on 35mm film in a "scope" aspect ratio of 2.4:1. (Nolan did the same thing with The Dark Knight, though he used less Imax footage in that case.)

Nolan's intent was to have the movie's aspect ratio switch back and forth between 2.4:1 and 4:3, but that can only be achieved in a classic, film-based Imax theater with a gigantic 4:3 screen. Most Imax theaters now use digital projectors on a smaller 16:9 screen, so the transition between aspect ratios is not nearly as dramatic, and the Imax footage is cropped. And you will see no change in aspect ratio in theaters other than those branded as Imax.

So where can you see The Dark Knight Rises exactly as the director intended? The website and magazine LF Examiner, an independent journal of the large-format motion-picture industry, has posted a list of 70mm film-based Imax theaters showing the movie. Nolan reportedly insisted that Warner Bros. make at least 100 70mm prints of the film to be shown in these theaters, and I plan to see it again in one of them.

What about the movie itself? It's a true sequel to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, relying heavily on plot points and characters from the previous installments. If you haven't seen them recently, I recommend watching them before you see The Dark Knight Rises. I admit I hadn't seen either one lately, and the new movie felt a bit disjointed to me, so I will definitely watch the first two again before I see the new one in Imax.

Overall, though, I enjoyed the movie, especially Anne Hathaway as the Catwoman and Tom Hardy as the evil Bane with his heavily processed voice. I did have a hard time suspending my disbelief that Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) could overcome the serious injuries sustained as Batman in the previous stories—injuries outlined by a doctor in one scene—not to mention the beating he takes this time around. But hey, it's based on a comic book, so anything is possible!

As you might imagine, this is a pretty loud movie, though it wasn't as bad as many others I've seen, at least in a conventional digital-cinema theater. The average level over two hours and 44 minutes—it's a long movie!—was 82.3 dBA, and the highest maximum level was 95.5 dBA. The level exceeded 88.0 dBA 10 percent of the time, 80.0 dBA 33 percent of the time, 75.0 dBA 50 percent of the time, and 64.0 dBA 90 percent of the time. I expect it to be substantially louder in a real Imax theater.

If you liked the previous two installments of this trilogy, you'll probably enjoy the final episode, though I make no guarantees. Someone in the chat room of Leo Laporte's The Tech Guy radio show last Saturday said he's a huge fan of Christopher Nolan and Batman but found The Dark Knight Rises to be completely boring. To each their own, I always say!

If you see The Dark Knight Rises, please let us know the type of venue and what you thought of it.

HDMan72's picture

I went to the 12:01am screening on Friday the 20th at my local Digital IMAX theater. Really enjoyed the movie, great sound but yes, the IMAX scenes really went un-noticed due to the smaller screen. I'm going tomorrow afternoon and seeing it again at a 15/70 IMAX theater. Can't wait!

Goswami's picture

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Mister Leadfoot's picture

As someone who's a huge Batman, comic, and movie fan I felt the movie was good but the first two films were better. I had a few gripes with leaked material (such as Catwomans costume and Banes Sean Connery / Darth Vader voice) but overall during the movie I didn't care about those nit-picks. Someone I know complained about the injury thing, which I pointed out happened in the comics (yet its believable to fall off a building and drive a 2 ton tank on building tops? anyways...).

I also think watching all three films on blu-ray will cause this film to grow on me.

By a way some advice: don't drink anything before or while seeing this movie. 2 hrs and 44 min is a loooong time to wait to use the facilities.

marknott's picture

I purposely went to an IMAX branded theater, but the 35mm 2.4:1 sections of the film were filling 90% of the screen. They only looked slightly smaller than 4:3. The IMAX scenes filled the entire screen, while the 35mm scenes had very small letter box bars on top and bottom as if the scenes were being zoomed in and cropped on the left and right. The transition between scenes was negligible because of it. Not nearly as breathtaking like it was when I saw Dark Knight in IMAX.
I wanted to see it in IMAX to get the whole image, but I think the regular footage was being cropped off.
Am I wrong? I want to see it in a regular theater now to see the rest of the movie.

HDMan72's picture

Sounds like the theater you were at was a Digital IMAX theater with smaller screen. a true 15/70 IMAX theater has a much larger screen. The Digital IMAX theater I went to was like you described. I read an article that says IMAX footage in a Digital IMAX theater increases 20%, IMAX footage in a true IMAX 15/70 theater increases 40%. Scott's article above lists all 15/70 IMAX theaters, there are way more Digital IMAX theaters which some forum community members label LIEMAX (lol).

Fake IMAX screen size: 28x58 feet
Real IMAX screen size: 76x97 feet

marknott's picture

Ah! Thank you! I looked it up on and found a true IMAX theatre nearby. I'm excited to see it again! Stupid fake IMAX.

abigailcole12's picture

I haven't seen the latest Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises". Some say that its an exciting Batman movie and others said that it's bring. I have to see to myself because I'm a huge Batman fan. I failed to see the Batman - The Dark Knight Rises in its premiere night because I'm very busy with my volunteering work at that time. I am reaching children about nursery rhymes song. The children also must know some of the kids songs online.

BrolicBeast's picture

I saw this movie at the AMC IMAX Theater in Columbia, MD. I thought the movie was absolutely remarkable and a fitting conclusion to the Nolan trilogy. The A/V was turned up quite loud, but not to an unbearable level. It most certainly does help if you've seen the first and second movies....I would suggest anyone watch (or re-watch) BOTH movies before giving this great film a spin.

Jarod's picture

So tragic about the shooting. We seen TDKR on Digital 2K Barcos opening Friday and I gotta say I LOVED it! I love Chris Nolan's writing style along with the DP work on all his films. Alot of my friends either loved or hated Banes voice. I was of the former. I still think that TDK is the strongest of the trilogy tho. This one begs to be seen in IMAX 15/70!

kevon27's picture

Batman looks good but I'm not enthusiastic on seeing it as Total Recall..

applebyter's picture

In addition to your comment about the chat room comment that one person found TDKR boring ... I thought Batman Begins was great and far and away the best film version of Batman. I found The Dark Knight to be very boring. I could barely sit through my first viewing in a theatre and was constantly looking around and at my watch wondering when it would finish. I haven't managed to sit through watching The Dark Knight since. I haven't convinced myself of whether to give TDKR a try or not.

MatthewWeflen's picture

Waiting for the Blu-Ray. Why?

1. We have a 9 month old.
2. I'd rather spend the $20 on something I can pause and rewatch at my leisure.
3. The rest of humanity.

sukhwindersandy's picture

The Dark Knight Rises has continued to perform well at the box office, taking the number one spot as expected in its second weekend with $64.075 million (against a 60% drop)and a 10 day North American total of $289.086 million.The Dark Knight Rises earned $160,887,295 in its opening weekend — making it the biggest 2D opener in history.

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Speaker Dude's picture

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Simon's picture

Sure I didn’t love The Dark Knight Rises, but what I HATE about today’s digital culture is that if a director makes one bad move in their career, then all of a sudden their entire filmography is thrown out the window. who to get assignment | Speech assistance

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Aalia Nebhan's picture

Best superhero moive of all-time much better than dark knight
Batman begins 7.5/10
Dark knight8.5/10
Dark knight rises 10/10
The hype for this moive was so much that some persons would say this moive is horrible unless it was perfect and the crazy thing is it was pefect the only flaw was the banes cheap death.

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