I love viral marketing. I especially love viral marketing when it's attached to a new Batman project.
A good friend of mine was one of the first 100 people to beat the Arkham Asylum viral marketing campaign and won the collector's edition of the video game thanks to his online detective skills. Prior to the release of the 2008 film "The Dark Knight", I received campaign buttons, Gotham newspapers and a Gotham City voter registration card all in support of Harvey Dent. I attended a Harvey Dent political rally where I had the chance to meet up with fellow supporters and was given a "I support Harvey Dent" t-shirt along with campaign signs. I was even featured on the official website and was thrilled (and slightly disturbed) when The Joker hacked the system and scribbled the face of every photo of Dent supports making them resemble the Clown Prince of Crime. Viral Marketing gives us a personal connection to something we enjoy and makes us feel like we're actually a part of the magic.
Batman fans around the world are gearing up for the 2012 Summer release of the final film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy "The Dark Knight Rises". On December 13th select IMAX theatres around the United States were screening the first six minutes of the film and you were allowed access if you knew how to get tickets. There were two showings at the IMAX theater; one at 10pm and the other at 10:30pm. My guest and I were in the 10:30pm group. We observed the first group as they exited the theater and became concerned by the expression on their faces. People looked confused. No shouts of awesomeness or fanboy freak outs. I found out later they were confused for a variety of reasons. After handing over our tickets and my purse being inspected for recording devices, were we given promotional t-shirts that features a bizarre design and simply says "End". No one could figure out what the design is suppose to symbolize (one guess was Bane's mask and there's no indication on the shirt that it's related to a Batman film.
The prologue lasted only six minutes and began with Commissioner Gordon speaking at Harvey Dent's memorial service. The rest of the prologue features some mercenaries being captured and boarded on a plane. The men who apprehended them are looking for Bane and it turns out one of the captives is in fact Bane himself. After his identity is revealed he breaks free. Bane's objective is to kidnap a doctor aboard the plane (who, thanks to viral marketing has been revealed to be Dr. Leonid Pavel) and take it down. A second plane filled with Bane's henchmen comes into play and in what was probably the most impressive stunt I've seen filmed in the air, Bane transfers the doctor's blood to a decoy before successfully taking down the airplane and making a getaway in his own. The last few seconds of the prologue are filled with never-before-scenes featuring a new Batman vehicle (or the Tumbler transforming, I couldn't really tell), a tortured looking Selina Kyle traveling in a car, Batman on the steps of a building during snowfall, a glimpse of Catwoman and finally Bane holding Batman's mask.
When the screening was over I came to the realization why the first crowd who viewed it were troubled. It was almost impossible to understand any of Bane's dialogue. His heavy accent is muffled behind a mask and I can honestly say that I barely understood a line that actor Tom Hardy delivered. Many of the movie goers in the theatre said the same thing. One said:
"I don't know what I just saw but it was awesome!"
While many others clearly stated they couldn't understand a word Bane said (myself included). One joked that between Christian Bale's gruff Batman voice and Bane, the next logical character to include in the film would be Beaker from The Muppets. There were numerous complaints regarding Christian Bale's performance in "The Dark Knight", so much so that it was corrected for the DVD release and the result was a smoother audio delivery. Numerous complaints regarding Bane's voice have all ready surfaced online and one hopes that this will be corrected in time for the film's worldwide release in 2012. If not, this could be as painful as Stallone and Schwarzenegger getting into a verbal argument.
The writing remains intelligent and though the airplane sequence was cleverly written and visually satisfying, Bane's problematic voice stole the show. Clearly that's not good news. I was more impressed by the images shown after the plane sequence. In all honesty Batman's hand to hand combat among the stairs with Bane during a snow storm would have made for a better sneak peak. I'm going to chalk the prologue to being entertaining but nothing spectacular.